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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ..so should I buy it?
There are plenty of detailed critiques of the performances and production on here which I won't attempt to emulate; this review is rather for the casual browser who is hovering around the 'add to basket' button. So - Yes! I bought this at a price pretty much equivalent to rental - and I would heartily recommend it as great value and good entertainment. It has its...
Published on 6 Oct. 2009 by Old Flozer

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68 of 74 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Superb Film - Rotten DVD
The Kenneth Branagh/Emma Thompson version of 'Much Ado About Nothing' is one of the happiest and most charming films I have ever seen (despite the tense bit in the middle and the tedious nature of the bard's original story).
This DVD is let down -so- badly by the rough and ready transfer, which has the following problems:
1) This is 1.4ish:1 and not widescreen...
Published on 22 July 2008 by M. Lindsell


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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ..so should I buy it?, 6 Oct. 2009
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There are plenty of detailed critiques of the performances and production on here which I won't attempt to emulate; this review is rather for the casual browser who is hovering around the 'add to basket' button. So - Yes! I bought this at a price pretty much equivalent to rental - and I would heartily recommend it as great value and good entertainment. It has its weaknesses - the DVD transfer is not particularly high quality (I'd like to see a fully restored, Blu-Ray version) and has no supplementary material. Of the performances, only Keanu Reeeves' is really dubious - he brings to the part of John the Bastard an impressive physique and little else. There's also some of that rather cloying best buddies quality that accompanies Branagh's core troupe. However, overall it trips along with a light touch and is very entertaining - genuinely so on the strength of the play, not just for the interest of the interpretation. The cinematography and scenery are superb (though again, some colour restoration would have helped, and some of the cast had gone very pink in the Italian sun!). I enjoyed Keaton's perfomance as Dogberry, though I struggled to hear everything he said, and it did remind me of Beetlejuice. I'd forgotten how luminously beautiful and engaging the young Kate Beckinsale was before she became Hollywood Barbie (sigh..), and was very impressed by the naturalness of Denzel Washington's delivery, as Branagh's integration of US actors sometimes jars.

You don't have to be a Shakespeare fanatic to enjoy this, but there is equally plenty there to satisfy the enthusiast. Hit that button!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not one of Shakespeare's best known plays, 5 Sept. 2005
By 
Budge Burgess (Troon, Scotland) - See all my reviews
By no means a well-known play compared to Shakespeare's tragedies, or even many of his history plays, "Much Ado About Nothing" remains a popular theatrical production, a play which offers dynamic, meaty parts and provides actors with challenging vehicles for the display of their talents. In a sense, it is a play driven by its players, its text bristling with wit and energy, its themes and concepts regularly re-interpreted and re-presented by the great actors and producers of succeeding ages.
"Much Ado" is a play about courtly society and its preoccupation with love and marriage, with 'form', and with the appropriateness of suitors and matches. Love is one thing, but marriage involves power, money, and property rights and succession. It's a play about rules - often unwritten, usually unspoken, but which are learned by social osmosis and which appear in the niceties of etiquette, manners, and social trivia, providing fragile bastions to status and breeding. Despite their apparently ephemeral nature, these are rules which are very real, and not without severe sanction.
But "Much Ado" is also a play about the breaking of rules, about their use and transformation, obeying, instead, the demands and commands of love. Much of the dynamic of the play lies in the contrast between the two couples, Beatrice & Benedick and Claudio and Hero. The former are the liberated archetypes, the latter a more classical pairing.
It's a play which has been repeatedly interpreted and reinterpreted in the light of changing social mores and tastes. Much of the difficulty in studying the play lies in teasing out Shakespeare's intent from the layers of meaning and interpretation with which it has been lacquered.
There are numerous editions of the text available - Amazon doesn't seem to enable individual reviews to appear (indeed, the book section of "Much Ado" seems to be dominated by comments on a film version). However, for the student, there are distinct advantages in getting the right text.
Of the various versions available on the market, I have to say that the Arden edition presents an authoritative text and extensive set of notes - notes on context and language also appear at the foot of each page of the play, itself. The long introduction is extremely rewarding and informative, and further notes on the play are included in appendices. Overall, I'd rate this the best edition for the serious scholar.
The New Cambridge Shakespeare is a sophisticated resource - it provides some sixty pages of an Introduction, analysing the play and providing the sort of intellectual baseline sixth form and first year university students need. It offers further analysis at the end of the play. The text, itself, is beautifully printed, with tight little notes at the foot of each page (you may find you need glasses to follow these, however). Still, an edition to be recommended.
The Cambridge School Shakespeare provides lots of ideas for groupwork and class analysis of text and themes, and must provide teachers with an excellent practical resource with which to engage their class. The text appears on the right hand page, notes and commentary are kept to the left hand page - making it very accessible and readable. There is also a quality feel to the paper and printing.
The Longman's School Shakespeare also provides notes on the left hand page, text on the right. The text is, perhaps, better presented than the Cambridge 'School' edition - it is slightly more expansive and lucid. The notes, however, don't feel as robust as in the Cambridge edition - they're more limited and less comprehensive.
The Oxford School Shakespeare is, I feel, the weakest of the 'school' editions. Overall, I didn't find it as dynamic or thought-provoking as the others. It provides a brief synopsis, a scene by scene analysis, and some useful notes. But text and notes run together on the same page, giving it a congested, claustrophobic feel which I found disconcerting.
The New Penguin version bears the imprimatur of the Royal Shakespeare Company. It's the most portable version - it'll fit in a pocket or bag. The text is presented without benefit of notes on the page - you have to keep referring to the back of the book to find these. The notes are comprehensive and thought provoking. Given that the play is largely written in prose, there can be dense blocks of dialogue on the page and, with the smaller size of the Penguin, it can make it look more daunting than needs be. The introduction can also be a touch dense and academic in places - it is worth persevering with it, for it does have some excellent points to make. The Penguin edition is an excellent, portable one, but it has its drawbacks.
The Dover Thrift edition, meanwhile, is precisely that. The bare bones of the text, no notes to speak of, and a very 'economical' feel to print and paper quality.
For school work, I'd go for the Cambridge or Longman's, for the keen student, the Arden edition is my top recommendation, followed by the New Cambridge. However, if you are studying the play, it is worth collaborating with some of your fellow students - you each acquire a different edition of the text, then you can compare and contrast the notes and commentaries.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Arden Shakespeare, 3 Nov. 2007
By 
Spider Monkey (UK) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Much Ado About Nothing (The Arden Shakespeare) (Paperback)
In some respects I think it'd be rather presumptuous of me to attempt to review Shakespeare. Someone so well known and influential wouldn't benefit from my opinions on their work, plus there are more scholarly and concise reviews out there. But I can comment on these Arden versions. Of all the Shakespeare I've read I've always found the Arden copies to be well laid out and to have excellent commentary and notes on the text. They really add to your understanding of Shakespeares outstanding plays and introduce you to the depth in his work. They have superb paper quality and are bound well, withstanding repeated readings and intensive study. For your collection of Shakespeare you can't do much better than Arden publications, some are quite hard to get hold of but it's worth the effort.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars By my troth, a good book, 16 May 2010
This review is from: Much Ado About Nothing (The Arden Shakespeare) (Paperback)
An excellent edition of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. The introduction is long and very detailed helping you to understand the time and context of the piece though I would recommend reading the play first. Similarly, the text comes with copious notes, some of which can seem at times overly detailed but do help the modern reader to decipher some of the more complex passages. Again I would recommend reading the play fully before attempting to read with notes because they are so long that you will lose track of your place within the play if you attempt to read them all while following the story. This is a text which is most appropriate to someone new to Shakespeare or studying the text at school or university due to the large number of notes. The more experienced reader might prefer the RSC edition, for example, who's notes mainly consist of definitions rather than the longer dictionary/encyclopaedic notes of this edition.

As for the play itself, Much Ado About Nothing is in my opinion one of Shakespeare's greatest comedies. It tackles many subjects including love, deception, loyalty and loss and can be both tender, tagic and comic. It is mainly in prose, though there are some passages in verse.

Altogether a great buy.
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46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Converting all your sounds of woe...oh..into hey...nonny...NONNY!', 5 Nov. 2006
By 
Mr. A. E. Hall "brother_of_sadako" (Liverpool, UK) - See all my reviews
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Kenneth Branagh's adaption of Much Ado About Nothing is a sheer delight to watch. I first saw it six years ago to prepare for a performance of it at school. The whole class fell in love with the film and while it may fall behind Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet in pure greatness, it soars ahead in sheer fun and exuberance.

As with Hamlet from 3 years later, the set is moved forward a few hundred years which just gives a fresh and vibrant touch to the film. Branagh himself plays Benedick and the chemistry between him and his (then) wife Emma Thompson as Beatrice makes you wonder why they could ever have split up. It is the war of words between these two that provide some of the main highlights of the film, especially their initial exchange:

Benedick: 'God keep your lady in that so some man may 'scape a pre-destinate scratched face'.

Beatrice: 'Scratching could not make it worse onto such a face as yours'.

Benedick: 'Well you are a rare parrot teacher'.

Beatrice: 'A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of your tongue'

Benedick: 'I wish my horse had the speed of your tongue'.

Branagh is also not afraid to throw in American actors and their effect ranges from the fish in water (Denzel Washington's Don Pedro), to the aquittable Keanu Reeves to the outstanding thespian but altogether too Yankee Robert Sean Leonard. However the real American star of the film is Michael Keaten with his sidekick Ben Elton who give a Monty Pythonesque twist to Dogsberry and Verges.

Branagh directs the film with style and his choice of music is outstanding. The all-star cast deliver as expected and it all adds up to one of my alltime favourite films.

One little criticism is the actual DVD itself. There are no extras whatsoever; it would have been nice to hear Branagh's views on the film. And although the scene selection by 'act' is quaint, it is annoying trying to find one particular scene.

Do not let that disuade you though, watching this film on a flip book while listening to it on tape would be enough. It is a beautifully written and performed play.
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68 of 74 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Superb Film - Rotten DVD, 22 July 2008
By 
M. Lindsell (UK) - See all my reviews
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The Kenneth Branagh/Emma Thompson version of 'Much Ado About Nothing' is one of the happiest and most charming films I have ever seen (despite the tense bit in the middle and the tedious nature of the bard's original story).
This DVD is let down -so- badly by the rough and ready transfer, which has the following problems:
1) This is 1.4ish:1 and not widescreen as it says on the packaging (the original film -was- widescreen)
2) The colour in the original film was wonderful - alas not the DVD, where unsightly colour aliasing and contours are evident
3) There isn't even a decent Scene Selection capability, just a small number of whole 'acts', so it is very hard to find your place if you don't see it all the way through
4) No Extras whatever, despite the fact that there was a lovely 'making of' featurette made (I watched it on TV).

Please, please, please could we have a widescreen anamorphic reissue (Region 2) with all of the above corrected?

I for one would pay full price.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fatally Flawed, 4 Feb. 2004
By 
JBV "JBV^_^" - See all my reviews
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I reviewed this film when the DVD was first released, but amazon, in their wisdom didn't publish it. so...
Lets not get this wrong. I love this film. I really do.
On the other hand this DVD is a travesty.
The picture quality is the same as the video, that is not as good as the copy i made off the TV! Sound quality is excellent (unlike the video).
No extras. Poor picture. Great sound and acting.
I don't know if the US version is any better, but it can't be any worse.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great film, but almost greater disappointment as DVD, 11 April 2002
By A Customer
I do love this film version of Much Ado About Nothing and I want to point out that the two stars are not for the film at all but for the DVD. Having gone to the trouble (and not inconsiderable expense) of ordering it, I was severely disappointed that it had NOTHING but the film as such. No extra material whatsoever, not even subtitles, and you cannot even switch to the beginning of each scene, just of each act! It would have been far less expensive to buy the videotape, and that would have been equally useful.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much Ado About Nothing (DVD) (1993), 23 Oct. 2011
By 
Derek Vernon-morris (Greater Manchester UK) - See all my reviews
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Emma Thompson, as Beatrice, opens this film version by Kenneth Branagh, reading sonnets at a merry outdoor picnic. "Sigh no more ladies, men were decievers ever, be you blithe and merry, converting all your songs of woe into hey nonny nonny--" Kenneth Branagh plays lord Benedick of Padua, returning from the wars, with a young friend Claudio of Florence, and the entourage of Don Pedro of Aragon, played by Denzil Washington.
Their visit to the household of Leonato, played by Richard Briers, is done in fine style with rousing music by Patrick Doyle. A body of Horsemen riding through lush countryside who dismount, throwing themselves in the water, and there is a kind of Roman Bath scene, as everyone excitedly bathes and changes before they meet.
Keanu Reeves brings his usual kind of surreal qualites to this star studded cast, as the disaffected half brother of Don Pedro, Don John, intent on destroying everyone's pleasure.
This Shakespeare drama is characterised throughout, by the witty repartee between Beatrice and Benedick, until they finally admit their love for each other, after amusing intruges to urge them to do this.
The film moves along with great jollity, apart from an almost violent wedding incident between Claudio (Robert Sean Leonard) and Hero (Kate Beckinsale) when Don John's plots work initially. After the intervention of self styled constables Dogberry and Vergea (Michael Keaton and Ben Elton), Don John and his conspirators are exposed, and there is a double wedding.
Brian Blessed features as Antonio, the brother of Leonato, and Imelda Staunton as Margaret, another cousin, helping the intrigues along.
As indicated by the cast, this is a first rate production by Stephen Evans, with Direction by Kenneth Branagh, and impressive costumes by Phyllis Dalton.
The picture quality and sound is excellent. I have already an old VCR Box Set, with notes, and a second tape of very interesting interviews, and my only reservation is that these have not been included with this DVD version. There are no special or extra features at all.
However, this is a tight fast moving entertaining colourfull film which I would highly recommend.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blu-ray review, 26 Jun. 2011
I checked this title out on the Blu Ray Region Code Database and it said it was region-free, so I bit the bullet. I'm delighted to report that it played perfectly on my Region 2 blu ray player.

This film is one of my all time faves and I would give it five stars even if I had watched my old video copy. But the leap in quality from the (poorly-transferred) DVD to Blu-ray is astonishing. What blu ray brings to the film is a wealth of detail (so you can really enjoy the beautiful setting), clearer speech and, most noticeably, more controlled and intense colours.

I watch my films on a projector, so the differences between disks are really magnified. But if you love this film and you have a blu ray player, I highly recommend this disk. Never has a film so deserved the blu ray treatment!
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Much Ado About Nothing (The Arden Shakespeare)
Much Ado About Nothing (The Arden Shakespeare) by William Shakespeare (Paperback - 16 May 2005)
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