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Archive for July 4th, 2010

Thanks very much to everyone for the suggestions about which Shakespeare productions to watch, which should keep me going for ages! This will just be a short posting to say that I’ve watched the Kenneth Branagh production of As You Like It on DVD, and enjoyed it very much. I have also recently seen a much earlier version, the 1936 production with Laurence Olivier as Orlando, which I wrote about over on my old movies blog – Olivier is great as always, but the film seems rather stilted and also cuts out great chunks of the play. This modern version keeps much more of Shakespeare’s text – watching it, I realised that several important characters had been completely cut out of the 30s movie.

The most immediately striking thing about Branagh’s version is the setting, moving the Forest of Arden to 19th-century Japan – where the characters are re-invented as members of a self-governing enclave of British merchants.  However, it was actually filmed in the UK with oriental touches like samurai warriors added in. This makes for beautiful costumes, but I’m not sure the Japanese element adds much apart from that – especially as so much of it takes place in the forest, which somehow looks very English. It does mean that the wrestlers become Sumo wrestlers, which is an intriguing idea.
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