Friday, September 16, 2005

Much Ado About Nothing: Book and Movie

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After having read the play “Much Ado about Nothing”, and seeing the movie, it is an interesting comparison.  Although I did not follow the movie with a copy in hand of “Much Ado about Nothing”, as far as I could tell, no lines were added, and the movie remained pretty faithful to the play.
A couple of scenes were added to the movie.  The opening scene when Beatrice was reading the poem I thought was stupid (to put it bluntly).  I mean, the poem wasn’t funny and everyone was laughing at it.  Yet, I recognize Shakespeare’s opening is rather abrupt, and the filmmakers needed something to ease the audience into the movie.  My main criticism of the added scenes is that obviously some editing needs to go into Shakespeare to fit him into the time frame of the a movie.  This being the case, it seems stupid to me to add extra scenes, when you are pressed for time as it is.  I can understand the added scene with Don John running away, because that helps to understand the movie.  Likewise the added scene when Claudio sees what he thinks is Hero on the balcony.  However the bathing scene, how does one justify that?  Perhaps the filmmakers were looking to break up Shakespeare and make him less tedious, but this was right at the beginning of the movie, so there wasn’t anything to break up yet.  Perhaps they wanted to have something they could flash the opening credits on top off, but in that case it was too long, and not all that interesting.  I have the same criticisms of the dance scene at the end.  I think the added scenes make the movie more, not less, tedious.  That scene wear Claudio was reading the poem to Hero’s grave, the filmmakers unnecessarily extended that scene.  It’s right near the end of the movie, so the audience is getting restless anyway.

Of course, another interesting difference between the movie and the play is that the movie has a more modern setting.  It seems very popular these days to put Shakespeare’s plays in modern settings.  I could list off pretty much all of the recent Shakespeare movies that have come out (well, okay not Hamlet), and I’ve seen more than one Shakespeare play with in the past ten years that has done this as well.  I’m not quite sure why this is so popular (to save money on costumes, perhaps?).  However, for some reason Shakespeare’s plays seem less boring when they are put in a modern setting.  I don’t know why that is, but that seems to be the case.  Perhaps people have bad connotations associated with the Elizabethan costumes, and get turned off before they even give Shakespeare a chance.  However, with the modern costumes the audience is deceived on some sub-conscious level into thinking there not watching Shakespeare (even though they know consciously they are), and therefore do not let all their nightmares of high school English classes turn them against the story.  I realize I am just making wild guesses here, but it seems like a plausible theory to me.

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