Katarina Nedeljakova: Film Review

Film Review: Nunn’s Twelfth Night

Nunn's Twelfth Night (1996)

Nunn’s Twelfth Night (1996)

Nunn’s Twelfth Night (1996) is a modern take on the classical Shakespearean comedy. Created during the so-called renaissance of commercialized Shakespeare film in the 1990’s, elements of this play reflect both its predecessor as well as a more modernized style. From a variety of dramatic shots to quickly changing musical scores, contrasting elements of film are used to deepen the sense of drama. Many parallels are also present in the play, carefully placed to emphasize the irony of the play.

What I found noteworthy in Act I was the background music in the opening scene. Once Viola awoke on the beach, a soft orchestra was played as she reminisced over her brother, who she believed had drowned. However as the guards galloped in, the whole mood of the scene changed; in a matter of seconds the audience got the feeling of great urgency simply by changing the score to a fast paced orchestra. This, paired with quick tracking shots of the survivors running through the forest, establishes the setting and the mood (while giving important background information not explicitly stated in the play) in one montage.

There is a powerful parallel also present when Viola first sees Olivia mourning. After questioning the Captain, it is revealed that Olivia’s brother has recently died, mirroring Viola’s situation. Conveyed by flashes between medium and long shots, we are given the impression that even though they have never met, Viola and Olivia are not that different. This scene serves as a precursor to the dramatic irony that Twelfth Night consists of, mostly later on when Olivia falls in love with Viola (disguised as Cesario).Violaolivia

As the film progresses, both contrasts and parallels seen between many of the remaining scenes. When the drunken party is playing music in the kitchen (at 45:00), the same song is played in the background of the scene when Viola and Duke Orsino play a game of cards. This time, the music is a connection between the two scenes instead of a tool used to create contrast as discussed previously. The main difference in the two scenes is the mood. In the scene with Duke Orsino and Viola the background is a reddish hue, giving the viewer gets a sense of warmth and intimacy.

This scene has warmer colors and a more intimate feel

This scene has warmer colors and a more intimate feel

This is intensifies the dramatic irony, as it is obvious to the audience that Viola is in love with Orsino. When the scenes change, it is a stark contrast. Drunk Fester is singing the same song that was playing in the previous scene, but paired with the setting a much colder atmosphere is given. The background has a blue tint and is set in a bare kitchen. However, the acting and close up shots of the listeners’ faces reveal that the Fester’s song also holds some meaning for them.

Festers' drunken singing

Festers’ drunken singing


While this overlap of Act II Scene III and the first half of Act II Scene IV was well done, I was surprised to see that the entirety of Act II Scene IV was not kept as one scene in the film. The second half of Act II Scene IV (as written in the original play) took place much later in the movie and was staged as an argument between Cesario and the Duke. Compared to the intimate moment they shared earlier in the cozy living quarters, this scene took place outdoors with the ocean crashing angrily in the background. This, along with the blue lighting and the rocky setting, gives viewers the impression that Viola is feeling negative emotions. She is distraught and unable to contain her love for the Duke any longer. From the directors and filmmakers perspective, it is understandable that the second half was pushed to later on in the movie, to preserve the slow pacing during the first half of Nunn’s Twelfth Night.

Act II Scene IV pt.2 is a stark contrast to pt.1

Act II Scene IV pt.2 is a stark contrast to pt.1

In my opinion, Nunn balanced the original play with the demand for commercial Shakespeare movies well. He managed to keep the light mood of comedy, while making use of the many elements of film. This included dramatic events that not only set the pace of the movie, but heightened a sense of dramatic irony for the viewer, which is what gave Twelfth Night its riveting feel.

Works Cited:

Shakespeare plays “Twelfth Night”: https://www.playshakespeare.com/twelfth-night/scenes/1054-act-ii-scene-3

Nunn’s Twelfth Night 1996: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelfth_Night_(1996_film)

Shakespeare and Film, A Norton Guide, Samuel Crowl



Kirsten Cordingley: Film Review

In Julie Taymor’s The Tempest (2010), Shakespeare’s dialogue is adhered to very accurately, while the visual components of the movie created by the actors, directors, and editors, are sometimes encapsulating, but at times gaudy. I find that the actors and actresses represent Shakespeare’s characters very precisely and animatedly. However, the visual effects and music feel misplaced in relation to Shakespeare’s text and their bizarre nature often distracts from the storyline.

While Ben Whishaw’s acting conveys Ariel’s nymph-like personality well, I find Ariel is portrayed in a dizzying manner in terms of the effects. The computer animated attempts to make Ariel into a spirit are rather over the top and silly, making it hard to take Ariel as being eerie. The overused double image of Ariel that trails behind him as he floats around is very unrealistic. While a spirit should be inhuman in some way, the visual effects seem to be a result of trying too hard to make him into something fantastical.

A specific example of the effects associated with Ariel’s character in The Tempest occurs ten minutes into the movie when Ariel tells Prospero of the torment he inflicted on the ship. A flashback shows Ariel, who is now as large as the ship and covered in flames, poking the ship with fire while strange theatrical metal-type music is playing. The scene is completely overpowering, taking away from the actual situation. Even as Ariel is telling Prospero about the fire he inflicted on the ship, there is the same electric guitar music in the background of their speech, which doesn’t match the situation accurately.

In Act 3: Scene 3 of Shakespeare’s play, shortly after the magical feast appears before Alonso and the other men, Shakespeare writes, “Thunder and lightning. Enter ARIEL, like a harpy; claps his wings upon the table; and, with a quaint device, the banquet vanishe”. Google defines harpy as, “a rapacious monster described as having a woman’s head and body and a bird’s wings and claws.” While Ariel is a male in both the text and movie, the movie’s interpretation does reasonably well to depict him as a harpy by making him into a crow-like creature that is completely black. Although the effects in this scene are again overbearing, he is definitely creepy and threatening, which conveys the fright and suddenness of the situation.

In Act 4: Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s text, a “masque” is performed by the spirits that involves conversation, dancing, and singing. The masque is a representation of marriage, and meant to be entertaining for Miranda and Ferdinand. However, in the movie it is an extremely brief scene of hardly a minute consisting of constellations, brief white images of humans and doves, swirling patterns and numbers, and eerie music. These images and the music do not portray the celebratory marriage ritual that occurs in Shakespeare’s text. I think it would have been more satisfactory to leave this scene out entirely rather than have a quick rendition of it, because it didn’t represent the images or purpose provoked by Shakespeare’s text. Rather, the meaning was entirely different and therefore confusing.

In Act 5: Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s text, Miranda and Ferdinand are found playing chess by Prospero, and Alonso is happily reunited with his son. The scene occurs in the same manner in the movie and there is a very effective shot of Miranda looking down at the multitude of new humans. The camera starts with a close-up on her face and zooms out to a long shot of her speaking, revealing Ferdinand, her mother, and the four other men. In both text and on screen, Miranda says how “the beauteous mankind” amazes her. The shot is very effective in conveying her amazement and innocence in this situation.

Image result for the tempest movie miranda

The acting and adherence to Shakespeare’s dialogue make Taymor’s The Tempest an accurate depiction of Shakespeare’s text, highlighting the romance, eeriness, and comedy in the storyline. The editing in the movie is also sufficient, being neither too choppy or staying on the same shot for too long, but the computer generated imagery and music are very poorly done and distract from these better qualities.

The Tempest (2010) can be watched here:


 Works Cited

Google Search. Harpy. 14 October 2016. Web.

Shakespeare, William. “The Tempest.” http://shakespeare.mit.edu/tempest/full.html.                Accessed 14 October 2016.




Cailin Murphy: Film Review

For my blog post in English 311, I have chosen to do a film review on Romeo and Juliet directed by Baz Luhrmann. This post will focus on key scenes throughout the play and conduct an analysis on points within the scene compared to how it appears in Shakespeare’s original text to see what were effective choices or otherwise on behalf of the actors, director, or editing team.

The first scene that will be looked at is found in act 2, scene 2. The scene features the “Montague boys” yelling at Romeo come back to the car after he jumps out as they were leaving the Capulet party. The film scene seems to be a continuation of scene 1, acting as an introduction to scene 2. This is noted by the line “He jests at scars that never felt a wound” (act 2, scene 2, line 47) as Romeo is climbing the wall to return to Juliet. In the original text these are two distinct scenes. In the film, the action of Romeo trying not to get caught inside the Capulet walls is an effective portrayal of the overlying theme of forbidden love. Cutting out most of Romeo’s speech is effective of showing his attempt at being quiet. The back and forth dialogue of Romeo and Juliet’s lines, rather than saying their lines at separate times like in the text, is effective as it is like they are engaging in a conversation without the other knowing. During this scene I was intrigued by the directors pattern of water. This scene predominantly takes place in the Capulet’s swimming pool, which at first viewing of the film I found ineffective. However, upon further research I found that Luhrmann used water as a motif to signify clarity (Reel Club, 2011). See link here:

H2Oooohhhhhh: The Motif of Water in WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S ROMEO + JULIET

The second scene to de discussed is Act 4, scene 1. The instance that Juliet brings a gun when she sees Friar Lawrence, rather than a knife was effective in showing that she was a powerful and potentially violent character in her angry state. This was also effective in giving context to the time frame difference between the film and Shakespeare text. Much of Juliet’s speech was omitted from the film in this scene. Friar Lawrence’s speech overlays shots of Juliet’s actions regarding her consumption of the potion, as well as the consequences if all goes according to plan, which we all know is not the case. This is effective in making time or a series of events seem to pass by quicker than they took place, making it easier on the audience to follow along with the story. It is ineffective as we lose the texts depiction of Juliet’s haste and urgency of wanting to take the potion. This idea can be shown through the quote “Give me, give me! O, tell me not of fear” (act 4, scene 1, line 123).

The final scene to be analyzed is act 5, scene 3. In the first stages of this scene Paris is not killed as he is in the text, however there is a police chase, which I did not find effective in my opinion, seemed excessive, but went along with the feel of the film overall. In the film the audience misses out on much of Romeo’s speech when walking to where Juliet lays in the church. It is said later when Romeo is next to Juliet’s seemingly lifeless body. This is effective in that it makes the walk down the aisle of the church more dramatic. Also, this is an effective use of setting and shots, reflecting back to the flash-forward of Romeo being in the church before the Capulet party. Another choice by the director in correlation to the flash-forward was when Romeo says, “Thy drugs are quick” (act 5, scene 3, line 210). This line was originally said in this scene after Romeo drinks the poison rather than taking the drugs before the Capulet party. I just found this to be choice to take note of.

Through this analytical review, the audience can see the many attributes to the film from the original text that are effective and some not so much and perhaps unnecessary in some opinions. With this being said, over all a good representation by Luhrmann in regards to the original text.

Works Cited

“H2Oooohhhhhh: The Motif of Water in WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S ROMEO JULIET.” Reel Club. N.p., 10 July 2011. Web. 09 Oct. 2016.