Midsummer Night's Dream

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Play vs 1999 movie adaptation

Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a wordy, lengthy play lasting over three hours. The film’s text, of course, was heavily edited for commercial purposes. The movie weighs in at under two hours. Even though the film was considered a successful adaptation of Shakespeare, it lacks much of the play’s depth of characters and inappropriate humor. For instance, the play relies heavily on all the characters to achieve the complete idea of each one’s personalities. It meshes them together to achieve a dreamlike/quirky atmosphere in which all of the characters’ personalities play off on another in a strongly felt ensemble. The film, however, seems to achieve the notion that Bottom is the main character of sorts, which causes the other character performances to come across as somewhat pale. The play takes place in Athens, Greece in 16th Century. The 1999 film adaptation takes place in 19th century Italy. The time difference alone dilutes the passive and submissive roles women played in the 16th century. The play is dreamy and quirky and very sexually ambiguous, so much so that it is commonly known as Shakespeare’s gay play. This speaks volumes, as many of Shakespeare’s works are laden with sexual ambiguity. The film removes any and all homoeroticism, and as well strips the characters of some of the original text which not only “straightens” up the play, but unfortunately also strips the characters of some of their depth of emotion, removes some of the layers that Shakespeare is so very well-known for. Another example of layers being stripped away is the elimination of the “juice” employed by Oberon, representing menstrual blood and the blood of virgins. Such important subtleties removed in the film leave the film feeling more slapstick and superficial than a standard romantic comedy. The character Rockwell was altered in the film. He delivers a monologue in the film that could move the audience to tears...
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