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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: February ::
Re: Jesters
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0271  Tuesday, 16 February 1999.

[1]     From:   Tiffany Rasovic <
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        Date:   Monday, 15 Feb 1999 16:45:54 -0500
        Subj:   Dogberry in Much Ado film

[2]     From:   Drew Whitehead <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 16 Feb 1999 09:10:15 +1000 (GMT+1000)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0259 Re: Jesters


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tiffany Rasovic <
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Date:           Monday, 15 Feb 1999 16:45:54 -0500
Subject:        Dogberry in Much Ado film

Hello,

I have Branagh's Much Ado in my collection and find the character of
Dogberry to be absolutely hilarious-the only drawback I can site is the
occasional difficulty with his enunciation-the words should never be
eclipsed.  Fools, clowns, knaves, vices...what is funny about them if
they are not somehow extreme-showing a peripheral sort of person who
nonetheless entertains and often instructs by virtue of his difference
or his absurdity.

At the other end of the spectrum is the recent 12fth Night film-Carter,
Stubbs et al-Ben Kingsley sings very well!  I found Feste's seriousness
attractive, but then wished for him to be playful a little more often.
It is a mistake to make the wise fool seem wise or cynical in a readily
recognizable way-that is, by making him seem heavy or sad.  Rather, his
wisdom comes from understanding the depths of human misery and folly and
still being lighthearted about it all.  (For example Lear's Fool.) Of
course, Dogberry is hardly a wise fool! He's more a clown-a stupid, well
meaning man who thinks himself the caretaker of all mankind-a knight and
a gentleman....it is marvelous-just what I imagine would tear the
groundlings to pieces and would even make the sheriff in the balcony
laugh at his own self-importance or that of his colleagues.

TR

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Drew Whitehead <
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Date:           Tuesday, 16 Feb 1999 09:10:15 +1000 (GMT+1000)
Subject: 10.0259 Re: Jesters
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0259 Re: Jesters

Stephanie Hughes says:

>I wonder about Branagh's sense of humor, then. The Keaton Dogberry was
>flat out awful in an otherwise marvelous film. It was like being halfway
>through a cheesecake and crunching down on a rock. I hated it all the
>more that the rest of the film was so lovely. Even Keanu Reeves was okay
>(forgiven all for his lovely torso). Is there anyone who actually liked
>Keaton's Dogberry?

I agree precisely with your interpretation of Much Ado.  For me Keaton
also was the one blot on an otherwise wonderful film.  I actually like
the character of Dogberry and was disappointed that the film left out
much of his best dialogue.   However in Branagh's defence I must add
that most of the other members of the audience of the movie theatre
probably didn't feel the same way.  Both Keaton and Ben Elton drew a lot
of laughs from the audience and I can only assume that that they felt
comfortable with this sort of "low-brow" humour in an otherwise
"high-brow" film.  As for Branagh's sense of humour, it can't be that
off as the rest of the film was delightfully humourous.  Shakespeare's
clowns are difficult characters, they require close concentration on
behalf of the audience in order to best understand their humour.  The
sort of concentration that is not normally required of the average
movie-going audience.  I think Branagh felt this and believe that that
is why he went for the added visual humour, for me it didn't work but
for others it seems that it did.

Drew Whitehead
 

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