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Much Ado About Nothing [Blu-ray]
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Star studded rendition of the classic Shakespeare romantic comedy which sees two princes, Claudio (Robert Sean Leonard) and Benedict (Kenneth Branagh), battling to win the hearts of those they love. The object of Benedict's desire, Beatrice (Emma Thompson), acts as his sharp tongued sparring partner, while Claudio's path to true love is obstructed by the evil meddling of the embittered Don Juan (Keanu Reeves). Love, of course, triumphs eventually in Kenneth Branagh's sunny adaptation, filmed in Tuscany.
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It was filmed on a low budget in a limited time with many one-take scenes and is all the bolder and brighter for it. There is a rush of action and delight running through the film that is almost breath-taking.
The music adds a real heroic touch too!
However, WHY DOES THE DVD NOT HAVE SUBTITLES?
I teach this text to a variety of students, from lower processing ability to higher. One of my students is deaf. Subtitles for any Shakespeare DVD is essential.
Please address this.
Excellent performances from all the cast, particularly from Branagh himself and his former wife Emma Thompson, brilliantly cast opposite one another as Benedick and Beatrice, plus Kate Beckinsale as Hero, the falsely accused maiden at the centre of the story; Denzel Washington as Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon; Keanu Reeves playing the villain for once, Richard Briers as Hero's father; and Michael Keaton and Ben Elton as the incompetent constable Dogberry and his sidekick Verges, renaissance equivalents of the "Keystone Cops" who sometimes solve crimes by fortunate accident.
Exceptionally entertaining and strongly recommended.
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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