“Much Ado…” About Something. Wait, what?
Okay, I don’t indulge often in movie reviews. I even enjoyed the Man of Steel movie pretty well, at least until I overdosed on commentary. Yet I did not speak. Now I’m saying– Go see this movie if you think you’d like to get to know Shakespeare even a little bit. Because it’s amazing. Really well done. I don’t say this lightly.
Please watch the movie before you read this. Yes, I know, it’s public domain and, as they said about Titanic “We know, the ship Sank.” No, I just point out some things that might rob you of enjoyment. Though if sex scenes (even clothed ones) are problematic for you, you want to proceed with caution.
I’m not entirely happy with the whole thing. Though the criticism will seem harsh, I still love the movie. I maintain that it should be seen, because even though the thing I’m saying is not small– this movie is still overwhelmingly awesome.
Part of the problem is that I’m a Shakespeare semi-purist. That’s only because mom read me the most famous of the Bard’s Plays (including this one) as bed time stories before I even learned how to read (yes, including Hamlet-– though fortunately she spared me Coriolanus and Troilus and Cresseda– TBTG) So, there’s that. Basically the first scene sort of redefines the play, and I think it takes away from (believe it or not) the intrinsic dignity of Beatrice. And not for the reason you think.
I think it is a more interesting story if both Benedick and Beatrice just naturally strongly dislike each other, and are so similar in temperament that they rub each other the wrong way. That this should flare into a passionate love thanks to the unlikely conspiracy of certain mutual friends– seems silly, yes. But, if you actually know people, it rings true. People really are that goofy and irrational– both in love, and in hate. As somebody famous once said, “The Heart is a foreign country, where to be conquered is to conquer.” Also, in this age where you can choose your friends, family and close associates, we have, in some ways, lost our social sophistication. The fact that Shakespeare’s point wasn’t obviously true is seen here writ large.
Because if the B & B conflict is just a lover’s spat– while it might seem like a grope for some feminist cover (in reality it doesn’t)–than the deep insight into the human way of attraction and attitude is completely lost. So for want of a fig leaf– the deeper, richer and ultimately more interesting conclusion is reduced to a one night stand gone bad.
I completely missed this on my first watching of the movie. I enjoyed it without blemish. So ignore the first scene and you should be fine. I hope that by writing this I don’t deprive some of that joy from others.
However. He did not alter one line of text. He did not, save for the above, change much at all. Lots of men in sharp suits. Lots of very attractive ladies. Lots of lovely scenery. The stage direction is simplicity itself– which is how Shakespeare shines. (Though minimalists should be shot 9 times out of 10) It is a black and white movie throughout. The actors and actresses are having a great deal of fun, and the repartee is still fresh and priceless. Very little nudity– but sexual themes and suggestion in abundance.
Also, Nathan Fillion plays Dogberry, giving a superb performance that seems to reference– other projects he’s quite famous for. That this was done without altering a line from the play makes it even better. They even avoided cheesy visual references. Okay, the tie (you will know what I’m talking about when you Go See The Movie. Trust me.) is a classic visual gag but not actually a reference proper. Hint- AFAIK he does not reference Firefly.
Warning to those with sensitive dispositions– there seems to be several scenes featuring clothed people having sex periodically in this movie– especially in the beginning. Though there isn’t the rampant nudity that some like inserting in to the Bard’s work, it’s still pretty obvious what they are doing. Be warned.
Further warning to Firefly Fans: Certain squicksome associations are there for those to notice. Just saying.
I do have one question for Joss: did you have to buy your daughter a new lamp? Yeah, I’m weird.