Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 445. Friday, 23 July 1993.
Date: Thursday, 22 Jul 1993 12:09:39 -500 (EDT)
Subject: Much Ado Redo
Though this topic was thoroughly discussed, thought you all might enjoy
this opinion from the other side of the fence, which obviously presents
quite a different viewpoint......
Organization: School of Computer Science, CMU
Date: Wed, 21 Jul 1993 14:34:57 GMT
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
A film review by Jon A. Webb
Copyright 1993 Jon A. Webb
Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of Shakespeare's play was filmed in
the villa where the woman who posed for "Mona Lisa" lived, and the film
is filled with the influence of the lush sensuality of the location. I
was struck especially by the presence of water in the film, as water
also figures prominently in the background to "Mona Lisa" (da Vinci was
concerned at the time about the many mechanisms for moving water from
place to place). I wonder if the painting influenced the movie, or the
villa influenced them both, or if da Vinci's engineering work influenced
the villa and then the movie.
Branagh does a great job of opening up the play. Often stage
plays seem stiff and awkward as movies, which depend so much more on
imagery and less on words. Branagh takes moments from the play and
expands them into effective scenes. For example, the arrival of the
Prince turns into a sequence of his men arriving on horses, the hurried
washing of the men and women in the ubiquitous water, ending in their
meeting as two opposing military forces might meet during a cease
I wasn't as happy with the play itself. Kenneth Branagh and his
wife Emma Thompson play the principals, and are a lot of fun to watch
(exchanging witty barbs) until they fall in love, and they have little
reason to continue being in the play. At that point, the story turns
into a ridiculous farce. Part of the problem here is that the story is
based on the actions of the two young lovers, the man played by Robert
Sean Leonard and the woman whose name I don't recall. Since it's
pretty obvious what is going to happen, and the characters don't have
very much interesting to say, the movie drags a little.
Michael Keaton rescues the film at this point, though. He plays
one of Shakespeare's comic relief roles, and does it so well I think
that that Shakespeare himself would have been proud to see it. He was
hilarious. He really showed how a great actor can turn a minor role
into something memorable.
I thought Denzel Washington was appropriately regal as the
Prince. He is always fun to watch. Keanu Reeves was okay as the
villainous Prince's half-brother.
The ending of the film, with its widening circles of joyful
dancing, makes the audience feel part of the action and inspires one to