Customer Reviews


39 Reviews
5 star:
 (9)
4 star:
 (18)
3 star:
 (5)
2 star:
 (4)
1 star:
 (3)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Never mind the critics - try it for yourself!
Kenneth Branagh's film of As You Like It received a pretty cool critical reception as I remember. Amazon reviewers don't appear to be overwhelmed either. I came to it with low expectations but enjoyed it far more than I ever hoped I would.

Yes - the 19th century Japanese setting is a bit of a problem. It is hardy what one expects to encounter in this play. The...
Published on 3 July 2008 by Neil S. Hall

versus
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Think Branagh lost the (Shakespeare) plot
I should have been warned when I looked at the DVD sleeve, declaring that the play was written by Kenneth Branagh AND William Shakespeare - a bit of hubris that the gods of theatre rightly punished. The conceptual stuff was all over the place; it was supposed to be set amongst the European trading community in 19th Century Japan, but, once Duke Senior had been ousted by...
Published on 2 Feb 2011 by English Rose


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Never mind the critics - try it for yourself!, 3 July 2008
This review is from: As You Like It [DVD] (DVD)
Kenneth Branagh's film of As You Like It received a pretty cool critical reception as I remember. Amazon reviewers don't appear to be overwhelmed either. I came to it with low expectations but enjoyed it far more than I ever hoped I would.

Yes - the 19th century Japanese setting is a bit of a problem. It is hardy what one expects to encounter in this play. The (Sumo) wrestling scene is frankly comical - I don't think Shakespeare intended us laugh hysterically at this point! More worryingly, Branagh tries to carry the Japanese setting over into the Forest of Arden. The main problem is that this is one of Shakespeare's most English plays. There are more songs in this play than in any other he wrote, though few of them make it into the film. We only get one verse of Under the Greenwood Tree and that is sung to a faux-Japanese arrangement that I, at least, find too incongruous to swallow. A bit like eating sushi with roast potatoes and gravy! But Shakespeare was a music lover - he knew what he was doing. The songs are an integral part of the play's atmosphere - but not here. However, the famous Pretty Ring Time makes it in by the skin of its teeth. The film ends with a very fizzy and up-beat arrangement of the song - an arrangement which (thankfully) owes more to Lionel Bart than to anything from the Far East.

So - that's the bad news. The good news is that the Japanese setting, with its immigrant communities, creates the impression of a "melting-pot" in which all cultures have a right to exist. Thus, the roles of the de Boys brothers are taken by black actors. David Oyelowo's Orlando is fine. And Adrian Lester finds much more in the role of Oliver de Boys that do most actors. The Forest of Arden, for all its Japanese trappings, becomes a kind of Never-Never Land, where identities can change, characters can mutate and everything can be just As You Like It.

The other performances are all fine - or, at least, they gave me pleasure. Bryce Dallas Howard is a warm and engaging Rosalind, convincingly boyish in the forest scenes and well able to maintain the important sexual tension between "Ganymede" and Orlando. Her English accent is pretty good as well - though the mask starts to slip in the Epilogue. Brian Blessed plays both Dukes. His Duke Senior is a mellow, mellifluous performance which completely gives the lie to his popular stentorian image. And the small but important role of Adam is entrusted to the safest possible pair of hands, belonging to Richard Briers. Kevin Klein is a serious, introverted Jaques and Alfred Molina does what he can with the severely pruned part of Touchstone.

The film isn't perfect. But I was left feeling that certain melancholy happiness which good performances of this play never fail to inspire - a feeling much aided by the final chorus of Pretty Ring Time! I enjoyed the film and I am sure others will too. It is a version to which I will certainly return and I guess it will be many years until we have another film version to match it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Think Branagh lost the (Shakespeare) plot, 2 Feb 2011
This review is from: As You Like It [DVD] (DVD)
I should have been warned when I looked at the DVD sleeve, declaring that the play was written by Kenneth Branagh AND William Shakespeare - a bit of hubris that the gods of theatre rightly punished. The conceptual stuff was all over the place; it was supposed to be set amongst the European trading community in 19th Century Japan, but, once Duke Senior had been ousted by Ninja warriors, we went back to 16th Century Europe - well, England, actually, and a Renaissance court. The "Japanese" concept was just used to give some pretty sets, and litter the Forest of Arden with over-large Japanese love-notes.It also required the audience to believe that Orlando would best a sumo wrestler who only needed to sit on him to crush him to death! Oh, and it made for pretty wedding dresses - but what on earth was the point??? It didn't even do what it said on the tin!

The Blessed Brian - sorry, Brian Blessed - was believable as both Dukes, dark and light, but the forest itself was far too pretty, making a nonsense of Orlando's comment "I thought that all things had been savage here." Kew Gardens is probably more dangerous. Amiens' speech about Jaques mourning a wounded stag - a mirror of the usurpation by Duke Frederick of his brother's rights -is completely cut, and in its place, we get the short comment from Duke Senior to Jaques about hunting venison of - "I know you like it not." Worse, when they actually come to eat, the Duke lifts the lid of the pot to prove to Jaques that it is meat-free, turning the melancholy philosopher into a sort of 16th Century vegetarian hippy.

The "Seven Ages of Man" speech really did not work for me; it was filmed from long-range, Kline speaking away from his "on-stage" audience - none of whom appeared to be listening anyway, and Kline's Jaques sounded as if he'd need Prozac to get to the end of it. I am a huge fan of Kevin Kline's, but it is only when the camera zooms into close-up on the "Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything." that the shiver down the spine reminds you of what a superlative actor he really is. Despite the SAG Award, this production wastes him.

The performance that almost moved me to tears was Richard Briers as Adam - pathos personified, and utterly riveting. For the rest, Romola Garai as Celia very nearly out-acted Bryce Dallas Howard's Rosalind. But, all in all, it was a messy, conceptually confused, production; Branagh seemed not to have the courage EITHER to up-date it OR to retain the original time period. In the end, I was just glad I'd borrowed it, not bought it!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well executed and entertaining, 30 Mar 2008
By 
V. Appleton "Vicki" (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: As You Like It [DVD] (DVD)
I watched 'As You Like It' with a shakespeare novice and fully expected them to hate it. They really enjoyed the film and in fact it opened the world to shakespeare that my friend probably wouldn't have even entertained the idea of before. It is enjoyable and the setting is lovely. I agree with the other reviewer that setting the film in Japan didn't quite sit right. Overall an enjoyable film and a good film for Shakespeare virgins to watch!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars as you like it, 7 Jan 2010
This review is from: As You Like It [DVD] (DVD)
A bit too short, and frankly the idea of putting the story in 19th century Japan does not bring any good idea. Even with suspension of disbelief, it's hard to imagine a Japenes forest called "Arden", a Japanese wrestler called "Charles". The idea that the bad brother follows Japanese customs (down to the dresscode) as opposed to the good one who is still westernized is simply ridiculous. There's a nice trick in the film with fans, but you don't have to be in Japan for that.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars DESPITE BEING SET IN JAPAN THIS IS STILL GREAT, 30 July 2011
This review is from: As You Like It [DVD] (DVD)
Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of As You Like It is set in 19th century Japan. I'm not sure why as I don't believe it adds anything to an understanding of the play but it does allow Ken some interesting visual flourishes in the early scenes. Once the action shifts to the Forest of Arden the Japanese setting become largely irrelevant. As often with Branagh's Shakespearean adaptations he combines English actors with American stars in this case Bryce Dallas Howard and Kevin Kline. Having studied this play for my degree I have to say that it has added greatly to my understanding and enjoyment of the play and Branagh's abbreviated text works very well. At the centre of Branagh's production are two superb performances from Bryce Dallas Howard and Romola Garai. Howard is simply superb as Rosalind and Garai matches her every step of the way as Celia. If you doubt how good Howard is just watch her performance in Act IV Scene 1 especially the moment when she declares that her affection for Orlando 'hath an unknown bottom, like the Bay of Portugal'. Rosalind is perhaps the finest female character that Shakespeare ever created and Howard does her proud.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Will you like it?, 1 Mar 2008
This review is from: As You Like It [DVD] (DVD)
This is definitely a film for Shakespeare lovers, but not Japan lovers. As always, Kenneth Brannagh does justice to this great bard, but not unfortunately to Japanese culture. It's an interesting concept, setting this play in a trading enclave in feudal Japan, and may have worked if more was made of it, rather than just alluding to it with predictable and ill-informed cultural cliches. Good Shakespearean preformances by some heavy-weight regulars, but not enough to live up to my expectations of the film's use of its supposed Japanese setting.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes the Forest of Arden is Just the Forest of Arden!, 8 Nov 2007
By 
F. S. L'hoir (Irvine, CA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
"As You Like It" is one of my favorite plays. Grounded in the tradition of Greco-Roman pastoral, the play asks the question, via Jaques, if man, who is trying to escape the intrigues of court, escapes to the green cabinet of nature, will he not consequently bring the intrigues of court with him, and therefore ruin nature? Shakespeare answers this question, which seems very timely in our warming world of globalization, in the affirmative.

This film, which is peerlessly acted, gains nothing by its Japanese setting, which, admittedly scrumptious to behold, is merely distracting. I fully expected a mincing Gilbert & Sullivan chorus to break into "If you want to know who we are, we are gentlemen of Japan, on every vase and jar, on every screen and fan." I have no objection to updating, nor to removing the setting to another location--or as Shakespeare would say, to another part of the forest. Such a removal was successful in Trevor Nunn's "Twelfth Night," which was set in a Cornish "Illyria." It was also done with delightful tongue-in-cheek in the 1960s' "Midsummer Night's Dream," which focused on a stately British home, labeled "Athens." Furthermore, I even suspended my disbelief when Brannagh set "Much Ado about Nothing" in Tuscany (partly because I love Italy). In none of these cases, did the change of setting disrupt the illusion. By placing "As You Like It"--most of which takes place in the fantastical "Forest of Arden" (to which the characters refer repeatedly)--in the historical context of a violent nineteenth-century Japan, Brannagh disrupts the magic as irrevocably as if he had placed the first scenes of the play in the 1930s' Leni Riefenstall-inspired glamor of the Third Reich and then had everyone escape to the Forest of Bavaria, still calling it the Forest of Arden.

Because Brannagh has already burst the bubble of Shakespeare's magic, his final metatheatrical conceit, of having Rosalind deliver the epilogue (full of gender-bending innuendo, since the part was originally played by a boy playing a girl playing a boy) among the actors dressing-room caravans, falls flat. I also think that Brannagh's moving scenes around, his making cuts (Touchstone, one of Shakespeare's greatest clowns, got lost somewhere in the forest), spoiled the rhythm of the play which takes on an incantatory magic in the "And I for Phebe, And I for Ganymede, And I for Rosalind, And I for no woman" scene between the pastoral Silvius and Phebe, and the lovers Orlando and Ganymede/Rosalind.

I am also cross with Kenneth Brannagh for recycling the ending which was delightful and far more effective in "Much Ado" ("Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more!"), complete with the actors dancing in circles--all viewed from above among cascading rose-petals (Perhaps they were cherry blossoms this time.).

On the plus side, English subtitles were available, and, as I said, the acting is excellent and Rosalind is more than lovely to look at, as are the costumes.

Although I am generally a great fan of Kenneth Brannagh, I do wish he had left the Forest of Arden in its magical land of nowhere.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars something missing, 4 April 2013
By 
D. Sedgwick "DSedgwick" (Liverpool) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: As You Like It [DVD] (DVD)
Well the samurai setting is unfathomable for starters - a case of let's plonk ol' shakey in a different period/culture for the hell of it...just doesn't add anything to the original I'm afraid. The sumo wrestling? well still pushing it in my opinion.

The real issue is the editing and cutting of the text - it's actually quite confusing at times - especially at the start - it struggles hard to get into any sort of flow and even in the forest the flow just isn't there. It's rather dull and rather green and lush and...well that;s it...green and lush. There's just something missing here, which is not the case with Nunn's film version of 'Twelfth Night'.

Maybe that's the reason why this ply is often left unadapted and kept on the stage...it just doesn't make for a coherent film - at least not this version. Performances are generally very good tho not sure about Jacques, Touchstone or Charles the sumo! Such a shame that it fails to spark unlike Branagh's version of 'Othello', which is super.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The forest of all possibility, 22 Feb 2012
By 
L. Power "nlp trainer" (San Francisco) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: As You Like It [DVD] (DVD)
Recently, I have watched a number of Shakespeare plays. I have enjoyed Branagh's productions.

Particularly the amazing Henry V [DVD], when he gives the famous speech at the Battle of Agincourt- "We few. We precious few. We band of brothers.' I liked the banter between his character Benedick, and Emma Thompson as Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, and the romance between the two in Henry V.

I have also watched the BBC version of As You Like it starring Helen Mirren and James Bolam.

Now with As You Like It, Branagh movies it from its usual locale the forest of Arden in France, to Japan, and at the beginning introduces ninjas. In a nutshell, it's a love story and story of contrast between the courtly material life, and pastoral life, and when our main characters get disinherited or banished, they end up in the Forest of Arden living like Robin Hood in the golden age.

Rosalinde changes her name to Ganimede and disguises herself as a man, and her banished suitor Orlando does not recognise her. Now something unusual happens in the forest, people start wooing each other, and falling in love, Ganimede attracts the attentions of a local wench Phoebe, while Touchstone the magician has a thing for Audrey even if she is a bit of a slut. Allegedly. We also have a slightly melancholic philosopher Jaques DuBois (meaning Jack of the wood).

For me the Forest of Arden is like the superconscious mind, the magical place where all problems get solved, the forest of all possibillity. A greedy Duke experiences conversion at the forests edge, a wound from a lion instead of being fatal, becomes a catalyst for true love to unfold. In addition we have many memorable speeches and saying from the Shakespeare canon, particularly the seven stages of man speech, the seven types of insult, and other beautiful uses of language.

Perhaps best considered as part of a romantic comedy trio, which includes Trevor Nunn's Twelfth Night [DVD] [1996], which features a young woman disguised as a man who falls in love with a Duke who is in love with a Duchess, who is in love with a man not realising he is Viola, the young woman. The third being Much Ado About Nothing [DVD] [1993].

As for Branagh's As You Like It, I found some of the scenes to have a certain crispness and vitality lacking in the BBC production, particularly the scenes between Touchstone and Audrey. I liked the ninja addition. At least one scene lost its meaning. In some places lines were cut.

I like the BBC production with Helen Mirren, which seems more true to the original text. James Bolam excels as Touchstone.

Overall I recommend Branagh's production for how he stages the drama, and the BBC As You Like It - BBC Shakespeare Collection [1978]for it's realism. Helen Mirren does an excellent job in the lead role. Certainly, if you are watching this for study purposes I recommend the BBC version, and if you are watching for entertainment get this version.

I did like the performance of Bryce Dallas Howard who can convincingly play both man and woman. If Orlando cannot recognise her in the Forest of Arden, then love truly is blind.

And remember, there are no ninjas in Shakespeare.

I think you will enjoy it, and I hope this was helpful.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As You Like It, 4 Oct 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: As You Like It [DVD] (DVD)
Very impressed - the DVD arrived at my school in India in just over a week after ordering! The children were delighted.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

As You Like It [DVD]
As You Like It [DVD] by Kenneth Branagh (DVD - 2008)
£4.00
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews