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"Much Ado About Nothing", analyse how effectively the director, Kenneth Branagh, uses a variety of film techniques to introduce to the audience the themes, plots and characters of Shakespeare's play.

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English-Media Coursework Through a close examination of the opening sequence of the film, "Much Ado About Nothing", analyse how effectively the director, Kenneth Branagh, uses a variety of film techniques to introduce to the audience the themes, plots and characters of Shakespeare's play. The director successfully introduces the play to the audience, and he manages to show all the characters, even though they will not play a major part in the proceedings until later on, and gives hints of the plot(s) that will follow later in the film. The director skillfully manages to make what is essentially a play to be performed on stage, into a film. The beginning draws you into the world that the characters live in and you want to find out more about this very lively, colourful and blissful existence. The film begins with white words on a black screen, with the words being read out by a woman (Beatrice, we find out) and a lute playing a melody in the background. The lute starts playing chords as the poem progresses. The poem is the one sung by the poet, Balthasar, in the middle of the play, and is sung at a very idyllic pace, giving us the sense that the reader has no hurry. ...read more.


And Beatrice's independence is again shown when she stands up for herself to both Leonato, her uncle, and the messenger. Her boldness and quick thinking, with her feeding the messenger a grape and her witty remarks are also obvious. Her talk about Benedick is punctuated with her eating grapes, as if Benedick doesn't matter to her, and that she's only asking casually. When they see the horses of the men who were at war arriving over the hill, there is, again, a great sense of urgency, with all the men and women rushing off to get ready. You only hear the music first, and then the sound of the horses' hooves on the ground. This is an effective way of gradually building up a character in front of you, showing their horses, then their company banners, then their faces, one by one. This is when you get to see most of the main male characters arriving on horseback from the war. There is another bout of strong, urgent music, and you can see both sides in slow motion. This is very effective, as it shows you the men and women individually. Slow motion is used to give us the impression that things seem slower because everyone is charged, emotionally. ...read more.


At the end of this, after everyone has finished laughing, the music, which had stopped at the beginning of the joust, starts again, but morosely, as everyone notices Don John. As the music is silenced, everyone is quiet, and Leonato approaches him, while in the background, a violin plays sad music, as if something has happened to Don John, and there is cause for grief. Leonato speaks in a hushed voice, as does Don John, who also stutters when he speaks, giving us a feeling that he is slightly sinister. Don John stands off to one side, showing us that he is a loner and even stands apart from his men and his brother, telling us that there is hatred between the two. After this scene, everyone forgets about him and walks off, content about life in the villa. Cheering, uplifting music in the background gives us a heightened sense of a party atmosphere. Thus, Branagh has successfully made the play into a film without a hitch. He uses a variety of filming techniques unavailable to those on stage, and used them well to create and introduce likeable characters. He has managed, in about 10 to 15 minutes, to introduce most of the plot details, characters and themes of the play, "Much Ado About Nothing". Page 1 of 3 ...read more.

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