During World War I, in an unnamed country, a soldier named Tamino is sent by the Queen of the Night to rescue her daughter Pamina from the clutches of the supposedly evil Sarastro. But all is not as it seems.
A woman who has lost her memory is taken in by a Los Angeles orphanage, and a private eye is enlisted to track down her identity, but he soon finds that he might have a past life connection to her that endangers their lives.
Rosalind, the daughter of Duke Senior (the banished Duke), is raised at the court of Duke Frederick (who is younger brother to Duke Senior and took over his Dukedom), with her cousin Celia (daughter to Duke Frederick). She falls in love with a young man named Orlando, but before she can even think twice about it, she is banished by Duke Frederick, who threatens death if she comes near the court again. Celia, being Rosalind's best friend, goes with Rosalind (who is disguised as a boy, Ganymede) and Touchstone, the court's fool, to the forest of Arden. Upon their arrival in the forest, they happen upon Orlando and his manservant, who are fleeing the wrath of Orlando's eldest brother. What follows is an elaborate scheme devised by the cross-dressing Rosalind to find out the verity of Orlando's supposed passion for her, and to further capture his heart, through the witty and mischievous façade of Ganymede.Written by
Nay, an you be so tardy, come no more in my sight: I had as lief be wooed of a snail.
Orlando De Boys:
Of a snail?
Ay, of a snail; for though he comes slowly, he carries his house on his head; a better jointure, I think, than you make a woman: besides he brings his destiny with him.
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The picture seems to end without the play's Epilogue. Then, the closing credits begin, when they are suddenly interrupted by Bryce Dallas Howard, still in character as Rosalind, who then is seen speaking the Epilogue as she begins to walk to her trailer, drinking a cup of coffee along the way. After the speech, Kenneth Branagh can be heard offscreen saying "Aaaand...cut!" After this, the closing credits resume. See more »
The version shown on cable television has been formatted to the aspect ratio commonly used in HDTV production (that is, anywhere from 1.78:1 to 1.85:1), while the version released to movie theatres was released in the typical CinemaScope/Panavision aspect ratio (2.39:1). It is the theatrical version which has been issued on DVD. Since the film was made using the Super 35 format, it was possible to make versions of the film in different aspect ratios. See more »
As You Like It is my favorite Shakespearean comedy, and my high expectations of the new Branagh version were not put to shame. Set in a lush, beautiful forest in an imaginary old Japan, populated by people of all races, this version is an innovative and modern one rather than a conventional and classical one - and it works.
The female main characters, Rosalind, Celia, Phebe and Audrey, are all immensely good, effortlessly throwing around both unbridled enthusiasm and unwavering character acting. In fact, Celia is near to outshining Rosalind; only her obviously bleached hair detracts from her charm.
The male characters are, sadly, far less distinctive, with the exception of Alfred Molina's Touchstone, who's delightfully silly - almost too much so. Kevin Kline's Jacques is not bad either, but he doesn't really steal the limelight to any great extent, the way he perhaps should. In a production as colorful as this one, Jacques greyness gets a bit lost.
(Edit: I will say that this version gains from repeated viewings. It is a great modern adaptation of Shakespeare's perhaps most joyous comedy.)
I did feel that a lot of the original text was missing, and this, as is so often the case with Shakespeare movies, is this production's worst shortcoming. Not enough of the delightful Rosalind rhymes which almost define the play ("Winter garments must be lined / So must slender Rosalind") are included, which is a grave, grave error in disposition. If this play was often made into movies, that judgment might be justified, but since the play is adapted so rarely, it cannot be.
The overall filming and cinematography are excellent, however, with plentiful gentle camera movement and many close-ups, focusing admirably on the strong emotions exchanged between the characters, and the language is fluid as well as florid, spoken in a very modern, sometimes even casual, tone, as we have come to expect from Branagh's very accessible Shakespeare films.
We are many who wonder why this film has not received a wide cinematic release. It has been shown only on a few film festivals, and this January it will be out on DVD, at least in Italy. Is it going straight to DVD without a run in international theaters? Why?? Is it really seen to be so obscure and uncommercial that no distribution company will commit to it? If so, distributors should be ashamed.
My rating: 9 out of 10.
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