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Branagh(TM)s adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing

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Introduction

Branagh's adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing celebrates the effervescence of romantic love and in doing so offers an interpretation that honours the spirit of the original text. Is this how you see the text? Kenneth Branagh and William Shakespeare offer us a story of romance, laughter and trickery in Much Ado About Nothing written in the late 1500s. However, each author presents us with different interpretations and readings of the text. While the original is on the page and the adaptation on the screen, the real differences are more subtle than this; with the authors choosing to promote and emphasise contrasting elements of the text. In comparison to Shakespeare's original, Branagh's cinematic adaptation portrays a lighthearted atmosphere which celebrates the effervescence of romantic love. While the original is indeed filled with happy moments of romance and dry wit, it is these elements which seemingly illuminate from Branagh's enriched adaptation. He ignores the less appetising scenery of the original and replaces it with the stunning rural landscape of Tuscany. ...read more.

Middle

He employs a dynamic array of music to compliment what is shown on the screen. Whether it is the mellow guitar accompanying Beatrice's opening song, the dark soundtrack that follows Don John in the cellar of the Tuscan villa, or the triumphant fanfare of the orchestra that crescendoes in the final dance scene of the play; none of these musical devices are elements that Shakespeare could use. While not all of these soundtracks celebrate the effervescence of romantic love, they do imbue the adaptation with a sense of vitality that enhances the experience for the audience and reflects the genre of romantic comedy. Kenneth Branagh effectively uses the camera to enhance the overall experience for the audience. Employing his directive prowess to capture the emotion on his characters' faces, we are able to palpably feel the perils and joys of the couples' romance. The opening scenes offer us a shot shared by Hero and her cousin Beatrice which immediately illustrates the difference between them; the pallor of Hero's virginal face juxtaposed with the worn and tanned visage of Beatrice. ...read more.

Conclusion

Don John conceals himself behind a bright crimson mask suggesting to represent his jealousy and hatred for the society that surrounds him. Claudio remains hidden beneath the mask of a cherub, revealing what he attempts to hide throughout the play; his naivety and his inexperience in love. Branagh selects these more subtle representations of what remains below the surface in preference of Shakespeare's approach; to create a more dastardly Don John and a more misogynistic Claudio through his use of language. Through this, we can see why Branagh's adaptation appears to celebrate life, love and laughter more than we see in Shakespeare's original. Where the original has used verbal dexterity to express the darker elements of the text, the adaptation has used visual displays. As we analyse both productions of Much Ado About Nothing; original and adaptation, we can see just a glimpse of the diverse readings that this text can elicit. As the play transcends from the page to the screen, we witness cinematic expression that honours the spirit of the original text. nick kotzman, literature nick kotzman, literature ...read more.

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