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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: August ::
Branagh's _As You Like It_
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0564  Thursday, 30 August 2007

From: 		Lynn Brenner <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 29 Aug 2007 01:27:30 EDT
Subject: 18.0560 Branagh's _As You Like It_
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0560 Branagh's _As You Like It_

 >English Japanese woods
 >set to music rather than give you Shakespeare to listen to.  Scenes
 >start with and are separated by these wildwood tours and  nature hikes,
 >all of which would be swell except that every four and  a quarter
 >seconds of this audiovisual Wonder Bread means one more  line by William
 >Shakespeare has been mercilessly amputated. Whatever "Shakespeare's
 >text" may mean to SHAKSPERians, it doesn't much matter here: I don't
 >believe there is more than a third of the play in this thing, maybe as
 >little as a quarter.

        Go on, go on,
        Thou canst not speak too much. He has deserved
        All tongues to talk their bitterest!

You have perfectly described the awfulness of this movie. An `As You 
Like It' sans pace, sans plot -- it doesn't even tell the story! -- and 
sans Rosalind, which is inexcusable.

What makes this travesty even worse is that Branagh knows better.

God knows the natural verbal rythyms and pace of Shakespeare are easily 
destroyed in a visual medium. But Branagh kept the text in Henry V. And 
his Much Ado, flawed as it was, was a lot better than this.

Is it possible that, not having a part in this movie, he didn't give a 
damn? Or does he actually dislike this play? Is that why Rosalind -- a 
role GBS once called the actress's equivalent of Hamlet -- is so miscast 
and so badly directed on top of it?

Re the miscasting of Bryce Dallas Howard: The problem is not only how 
Branagh directed her. I saw Howard's Rosalind in 2003 at the Public 
Theater in New York, a production delightfully directed by Erica Schmidt.

Its chief problem was Howard's Rosalind, who could easily have been 
mistaken for Much Ado's Hero:  a sweet conventional girl, facing 
problems not of her making, and in way over her head. In other words, an 
every day ingenue.

That, apparently, is the Rosalind Branagh prefers. There's no trace in 
his movie of the resourceful, intelligent, and brilliantly perceptive 
young woman -- clear-eyed even in the throes of love -- who is the 
central character of Shakespeare's play.

Lynn Brenner

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