Cape Literature Ia "Much Ado About Nothing" by William Shakespeare

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The 1993 film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing, by Kenneth Branagh, differs in many aspects from the original script written by Shakespeare. Branagh employs brilliant cinematography, manipulating lighting, camera angles to produce a carefree version to the original text. The soundtrack is dazzling and his interpretation breathes life and vitality into this old world play. According to critic Vincent Canby, “He has taken a Shakespearean romantic comedy, the sort of thing that usually turns to mush on the screen and made a movie that is triumphantly romantic, comic and, most surprising of all, emotionally alive” (May 7th, 1993). Lighting, music and technology enhance the various moods that perpetuate the film and Branagh is thus able to overcome language barriers, which enables the performance to be more understandable for a modern audience. The movie is assumed to be more light-hearted and free flowing than the original text. According to critic Todd McCarthy “The film is continuously enjoyable from its action-filled opening to the dazzling final shot.” Much Ado about Nothing is a tale of friendship, betrayal and the power of love to conquer all obstacles. It is one of Shakespeare's comedies and though it has a dark side, staying true to being a comedy, serious issues are treated light heartedly. Branagh moves the setting from Messina to the verdant hills of Tuscany. His choice of setting therefore determines his overall mood for the film. The production begins with the recitation of Balthazar’s song by Beatrice (Emma Thompson). When the scene comes to light the audience is exposed to a striking panoramic shot of the rich rural setting. The shot then pans down to a society picnicking under the Tuscan sun. The society seems relaxed and warm as they loll on the grass listening to Beatrice (Emma Thompson), who is perched in a tree, reciting the song. The pace quickly changes from lethargy to one of excitement, as a messenger brings news of the forthcoming arrival of Don Pedro (Denzel Washington) and his men. Men and women scurry to the villa amid screams and laughter to get ready for the prince. Thoughts of war are abandoned and replaced by thoughts of love. The plot then revolves around two couples, Hero (Kate Beckinsale) and Claudio (Robert Sean Leonard), and Beatrice and Benedict (Kenneth Branagh). Claudio seeks Don Pedro’s help in wooing Hero. Once successful the prince then turns his attention to older, warring couple of Beatrice and Benedick and plots to gull them into falling in love. However, Don John (Keanu Reeves), the bastard, plots to destroy harmony in the play as he tries to foil the plans of marriage between the younger couple. His victory is fleeting as his evil plans are unearthed by Dogberry and his night watch. All ends well and the production ends in dancing and merriment. From the very beginning Branagh utilizes the advantages that technology has made possible producing a zesty film that is emotionally alive. He employs many techniques to make his production a success the first being the manipulation of different camera angles. As the film begins the audience hears the recital of what was originally Balthazar’s song by Beatrice, the words to the song appearing in white against a black backdrop, to the gentle lilt of a guitar. In this opening scene the screen comes to light with a magnificent panoramic shot of the countryside scenery. This establishes a very light-hearted and airy mood, and thus sets the tone for the production as blithe and jocular. Branagh sets his film at the Villa Vignamaggio in the hills of Tuscany, the bright Tuscan sunshine adds to the nature of the film giving it a jovial feel. The scene ‘pans’ down to men and women, sitting in the grass, occasionally playing with each other’s hair, allowing time to pass in a carefree manner. This slow ‘pan shot’ then quickly changes to a rapid flicking from scene to scene as Don Pedro arrives. The mood that is then...
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