Much Ado About Nothing – Kenneth Branagh 1993 Film Review

The movie I have chosen to discuss is Much Ado About Nothing .This movie is directed by Kenneth Branagh and begins with a very lively, joyous outlook. The movie opens with such brightness(Act 1, Scene 1), where Beatrice is munching on grapes, and asking the messenger loaded questions and making jabs about Sir Benedick such as “I pray you, is Signior Mountanto returned from the wars or no?”( ll. 1.1.28-29) . At this point, everyone is chatting and poking fun at each other excited that Don Peter and his men will be arriving shortly. This scene sets a very relaxed, and fun tone almost as if to indicate to the readers that this story is indeed a happy one and not one of melancholy and deception.

muchado-heynonny

The entire scene in which all the young men are riding in on their horses comes about solely through Branagh’s interpretation of Shakespeare’s text, as this is not something that was actually written in the script, and he sets the tone for the rest of his movie. The characters are dressed in all white (women) and white and black (men) running around excited to meet.

Shortly after Claudio’s proposal to Hero, the men find themselves bored having to wait an entire week until the wedding. At this point, they decide to make Benedick fall in love with Beatrice. This scene (Act 2 Scene 3)  is shot outside in the courtyard, which I personally feel was an excellent choice. In my opinion it shows the green grass and blooming flowers which almost add a “spring” feel that allows the audience to appreciate the flirting and joking even more. At this point,  where Benedick overhears Don Pedro and Claudio jestering about how Beatrice loves him unrequitedly he is attempting to set up a lawn chair in the grass and it becomes the  focus of the scene where he is able to use the prop to emphasize how flustered he is to hear this information,(cue the shocked face in the picture)maan6-1 . Branagh, has him fumbling with the lawn chair so many times he almost breaks it, falls over it, trips on it, and it seems that he’s acting this way to portray just exactly how shocking this information is to him. He says “ Is’t possible? Sits the wind in that corner?” (2.3.917) and this, I feel has been depicted very well. The idea that Beatrice loves him with “all her heart” is so foreign to him that he begins to alter his mindset and opinion about her and how much he hates her, and instead comes at her with an open heart so as to accept the love she is offering.

The wedding scene between Claudio and Hero(Act 4 Scene 1), I felt was one that was a demerit of this movie. The camera tends to focus in on the reaction of the father so much more, 11252after Claudio storms off and I don’t feel that in the text this is what it was meant to be portrayed as. In my opinion, there was more emphasis on Leonato’s reaction rather than Hero’s reaction herself, and I wonder if focusing on her reaction would have been better because she was essentially being accused of being unfaithful. Her emotions would likely be very high considering that she was being accused by the one person she was so happy to be married to, in love with, and so adored by. I’m curious as to why Branagh chose to depict the father’s disappointment in her so much more greatly than her own disappointment,by showing him grabbing her aggressively, and yelling profanities “Do not live, Hero; do not ope thine eyes: For, did I think thou wouldst not quickly die, Thought I thy spirits were stronger than thy shames and disappointments at her” (ll. 4.1.1772-1775). Hero’s sadness, grieving, and reaction was barely captured in the scene. The camera shot of her “fainting” was so quick i felt that it was overlooked and I was quite disappointed by this as it seems like she fainted and immediately recovered without so much as water splashed on her face. I feel the interpretation of this scene could have been done better, in terms of the camera focus and the depiction of her expression of emotion.I would have liked to see the guests at the wedding react more, and less of Claudio breaking things. I do however, adore the scene following the wedding, for its cinematography where Beatrice asks Benedick to kill Claudio. The dramatization, and acting were very realistic and the tone in which the words were spoken, with urgency, fear and intensity was very captivating. Specifically Beatrice’s reaction of pushing Benedick away when he hesitated to agree to her request of killing Claudio was perfectly executed.muchado02

Rehana M

 

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