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June 18, 2010 at 11:33 pm (Film Adaptations, Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare's Plays) (, , , , )

The BBC gets the job done, once again! The 2005 BBC’s Shakespeare Retold version of Much Ado About Nothing is really something! I enjoyed it quite a lot. This is a totally modern version using modern English. It is set in a TV news studio. Beatrice (played by Sarah Parish) is one of the news anchors. Benedick (Damian Lewis), a former colleague and boyfriend who jilted her three years before, is re-hired when the current co-anchor drinks himself into a little sabbatical.

Hero (Billie Piper) is the hare-brained weather girl and Claude (Tom Ellis) is a reporter. They bond over difficulty pronouncing “meteorological.” They aren’t the sharpest tacks. I liked this quite a lot. They seem so right for each other.

Benedick and Beatrice are fun and modern; I like them both and they have great chemistry. There’s a sweet scene where they bond over Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116. Benedick is best man for Claude and plans to read this at the wedding.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
   If this be error and upon me proved,
   I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Beatrice helps him understand the lines and he’s impressed that she’s so literary. It’s sweet.

The Don John character takes a pretty major leap from the original play. Here it’s Don (Derek Riddell), the director who has just lost his wife. Hero has pity sex with him and he develops an obsession with her. He’s also drinking and gets demoted to graphics guy. Wow is he creepy. So, the motivation here is different than in the original play. He’s obsessed with Hero and his brooding jealousy of her relationship with Claude fuels the lies and deception that ruin Hero and Claude’s wedding.

Also, Hero takes a step toward modernity in standing up for herself after the jilting. The ending for Hero and Claude is quite different and more modern than Shakespeare’s ending.

The whole show is well done and very watchable. I like the way things are tied up for B&B. The final scene is quite a giggle!

© All Content, Copyright 2010 by Blog Author, Or What You Will. All Rights Reserved.

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BBC = Boisterous, Beautiful, Charming, PART II

March 28, 2010 at 6:22 pm (A Midsummer Night's Dream, Film Adaptations, Shakespeare's Plays) (, , , , )

This time I really mean it! I got into the cutesy title with my last post and then as I started writing about that BBC Television Shakespeare version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I realized the title was a bit more enthusiastic than I really felt. But now I mean it! The 2005 BBC’s Shakespeare Retold version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is definitely boisterous, beautiful, and extremely charming. I loved it!

This is a completely modern, up-to-date version using modern English (with a bit of an accent). I loved everything about it. The story is set in a modern “holiday park”… a beautiful resort with nice cabins in the woods. I’d like to vacation there! The actors are all really good. The writing is excellent. The tone is just right. I can’t say enough about this version.

The music is great—modern and right on the money. They play “Strangers in the Night” during all the crazy goings-on in the forest, “Love Potion Number 9” while Puck is applying the love potion. All the music is really good.

I love the fairies. Puck (played by Dean Lennox Kelly) is a scruffy grunge rocker type. He’s very low-key and he breaks the fourth wall all the time, talking directly to the camera to clue us in. It works very well for me. The Oberon/Titania relationship (played by Lennie James and Sharon Small) is good. Oberon’s trick on Titania is well done, and when he sees the result, he seems genuinely remorseful and makes it right. And the scene of Titania’s love nest with Bottom (Johnny Vegas) is really, really funny.

The story follows Shakespeare very closely. The love quadrangle between Hermia, Zander, James Demetrius and Helena is essentially Shakespearean. The main plot difference for me is with the Hippolyta/Theseus characters (Polly and Theo—Hermia’s parents in this version, played by Bill Paterson and Imelda Staunton). I thought their midlife relationship reevaluation was interesting. Also, Theo has conversations with Oberon who appears to him periodically to give him love advice, and apparently has done so in the past. I liked this addition to the story. And Oberon’s final advice to Theo seems a good antidote to the love-craziness going on all around in the woods: “Just enjoy what you’ve got, Theo. Just enjoy what you’ve got.”

This one’s a winner. It would be an excellent and very accessible intro to the story for high schoolers. It’s available on Netflix, both streaming and on DVD. Get it!

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