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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 11 April 2017
About 17 years late watching this but have finally managed to catch it. Running time is fast for a Branagh Shakespeare film (90 mins) and he clearly had to make some costly compromises. Visually this is a lovely film full of colour, somewhat stagey composition and some great performances, all somewhat curtailed by a savagely cut text that makes room for Branagh's key idea- classic song and dance numbers from the days of real hoofing in films like Top Hat and homages to Busby Berkeley cinematography. The use of pastiche pathe film clips cleverly divides up and defines the narrative and Branagh is seemingly a floppy haired youngster (Berowne) in the kings court at Navarre. The casting generally works well though Branagh stalwarts such as Richard Briers are somewhat wasted in cutting room cameos. Tim Spall is fun as Don Armado taking it right to the edge of Shakespearian clowning, whilst Nathan Lane is an assured and goofball Costard. Nice to see a thrillingly young Adrian Lester hoofing like the pro he is and the French Princess is gamely played by Alicia Silverstone.
Overall, Branaghs film catches the central idea of the play but cuts too much text to allow some characters to develop as though (unusually for Branagh) he is scared of boring his audience- there will always be another song along in a minute if there appears to be the hint of a longuer.
However, Branagh's excuse appears to be that it is one of Shakespeare's more obscure stories so lets dump most of the plot and just harp on with the main storyline.
I was genuinely taken with the look of the thing and the singing and dancing is not half bad though Branagh has little vocal range as a singer. Nathan Lane is assured as is Lester and the direction is for want of a better word, pacey... Plenty of Love,Plenty of Labour but something is lost.
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on 10 August 2001
I groaned when I found out that LLL was being done as a musical. Has he gone mad at last? No, he certainly hasn't. He's turned a rather inaccessible play (the full text contains heavy parody of the affected language of Elizabethan courtiers and academics) into a scintillating romp. The music and dancing is perfectly apt, and the production is gob-smacking - the colour, the music... everything is a delight. This is a DVD which gives you a little more every time you see it. Life affirming and life enhancing, and the bittersweet ending is perfectly done.
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on 19 January 2001
A brilliant adaptation of what is(for me anyway) a lesser known play. Branagh brings the play up to the 1930s and makes a West End Musical out of a South Bank Comedy. The songs and dance never look out of place with the Bard's words ...Remarkably easy to watch and enjoy - you do not need to be a Shakespeare buff to have a wonderful time watching this!
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on 18 December 2000
As always, the DVD edition is much superior. Not only is it letterboxed (and Branagh shot his delightful throwback musical in the grand full 2.35:1 widescreen format), but it also has deleted scenes and a making-of featurette. If you're still living in the VHS-past, perhaps this Holiday season is the time to treat yourself to the ever-widening world of DVD.
The transfer is crisp and it sounds terrific (though I don't have a high-end system, so take that for what it's worth). As for the extras:
Outtakes - 7:00 minutes of laugh-filled screw ups. I always imagined while watching the film that it must have been a joy to make. These giggling outtakes prove that conclusively. Branagh himself seems the one most susceptible to breaking out into uncontrollable laughter. It's nice to see as a footnote to this terrific movie.
Deleted Scenes - four excised scenes, totaling about 18:00 minutes! The most time is devoted to the pagent put on near the end of the story. Good stuff, but I see how the running time as is probably works best. It's nice to have them as a supplement anyway!
Making-Of Featurette - only 8:00 minutes long, but they cram some good stuff in there about how much intense (yet fun-filled) practice these mostly non-singing non-dancing non-Shakespearian actors had to go through before going in front of the cameras. Branagh talks about their comaraderie as being "bonded in a slightly-marked terror" at what someone else refers to as "musical-comedy boot camp". Brief, but good.
So, like I said, if you are still living in a DVD-less world, you are really missing out on some great stuff.
I do LOVE this movie so much. :)
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on 29 December 2000
After the wonderful include-every-word-from-all-sources Hamlet Branagh takes almost the opposite approach, paring down the text to a minimum (see some of the deleted scenes included on this disc to get a sense of how much was cut) and adding thirties musical style songs and dances. The result is charming, amusing, delightful and great fun. Unfortunately that is all it is - and Shakespeare should always offer more. Compared with Hamlet and Henry V this is lightweight in the extreme. Better to compare it with the similarly textured but much superior Much Ado About Nothing which is almost perfect. A fine one to add to the Branagh collection, but not amongst the best. Incidentally when are Hamlet and Henry V being released on DVD?
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on 9 August 2014
Love's Labour's Lost is not the first of the Bard's plays you'd consider as a movie project; one of Shakespeare's first dramas, it abounds in intellectual in-jokes and a mockery of mangling the English language - as well as the main theme, the King and three courtiers making a vow to study and fast ,as well as rejecting the presence of females. I had heard that Branagh had interspersed the play with musical numbers from the 30s so I watched it with some apprehension. On the down side, some actors (Branagh) dance worse than others and some actors (Branagh) cannot sing which is a great drawback to a serious musical interlude. That said, you are carried away by the exuberance of the production while Spall and Lane ham up their lesser parts to help weave a sumptuous, entertaining spectacle of song ,dance and Shakespeare which in the main actually works quite well. Of course, the text is savagely cut although Branagh's Berowne manages to capture the best of them and at times the script falls to outright comedy ('it kills sheep'). This is far from faultless, but it is a courageous, enthusiastic production which will have purists reaching for the smelling-salts while seducing the rest of the public. I particularly liked the postwar reunion at the end which hints at Shakespeare's lost play, possibly a follow-up called Love's Labour's Won. Beautifully filmed, you must throw away your copy of Shakespeare and let the spectacle wash over you. And if you must sneer at this treatment of the play, at least give credit for making a little-acted drama so accessible to the public.
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on 17 April 2012
What a brilliant idea to mix thirties broadway musicality with Shakespeare comedy and prose. BUT, the song and dance got so carried away that the storyline side got cut to smitherines. What you are left with are several dis-jointed fragments of the story that dont always follow through. The result was more of a revue than the actual work itself. "Kiss me Kate" springs to mind as a cover idea of the actual "Taming of the Shrew " story but then that was a completely seperate concept and didnt claim to be Shakespeare for Shakespeares sake. Hats of to the splendid standard Shakespeare acting crew, many of whom had done very little or no singing or dancing before. Had there been a better mix of acting and showtime with the story not being so obliterated the result would have been perfect but, as I have already mentioned, if you were not well versed in the original play you would have a tough job of following the storyline with its many nuances.The fim is not very long so there was no real need to cut the story and characters so very much. Token parts taken by the likes of Geraldine McEwan and Richard Briers didnt get a chance to develope their contributions and Nathan Lane, brilliant as he was ,was not allowed to give us the true nature of his character. Shakespeare can be a mish mash of characters but that is the beauty of his perception and even the very minor characters should be allowed to expand in their parts. It could have been outstanding. As it stands its very good.
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on 24 March 2011
I loved this film!!! 5 stars from me. It was exciting and sexy which is exactly what Shakespeare should be. The extra visual gags didn't compromise the excellant delivery of the language. Branagh is brilliant as usual and really brings out the best in one of Shakespeares less known comedies.

The setting of the glamorous 30's is ingenious as the costumes and sets are delightful. Although some of the singing is a bit questionable the dancing is up to standard with some fun and memorable songs and dances.

There are several bonus features on the DVD which are all worth a watch. The directors commentary is definatly worth a listen as Branagh gives an insightful looks into what sounds like a hilarious film to make.

Thoroughly enjoyable I would definatly recommend this DVD.
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on 17 January 2013
No it's not a word for word adaptation of Shakespeare's original play, yes some of the acting is a bit flat and it is incredibly corny in places. That said the 1930's musical style does bring something wonderful to the performance and it is very watchable and enjoyable to non Shakespeare buffs. I agree with a previous review that the scene at the masquerade ball is a bit extreme for U performance and would have thought it would have been rated PG. However, despite its flaws I love this adaptation and having owned it on VHS I had to get the DVD version too. The DVD is even better as it has extra features including deleted scenes, bloopers, the original trailer and a featurette.
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on 28 April 2009
I wasn't sure what to expect when I bought this DVD, and at first the leap from iambic pentameter into 'I'd Rather Charleston'was quite jarring. However, there are some brilliantly funny moments, and whilst none of the cast are particularly good singers, its a fun film and Kenneth Branagh is his usual charming, witty self. Not one for the kids though, the tango scene is rather steamy and perhaps inappropriate for younger children.
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