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'Through a close examination of the opening sequences of "Much Ado About Nothing," analyse how effectively 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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Introduction

English Coursework 'Through a close examination of the opening sequences of "Much Ado About Nothing," analyse how effectively Kenneth Branagh uses a variety of film techniques to introduce to the audience, the themes, plots and characters of Shakespeare's play. Kenneth Branagh uses many film techniques to good effect in the opening sequences of the film "Much Ado About Nothing". He uses these techniques very effectively to introduce the themes, plots and characters of Shakespeare's play, in an interesting way, which draws the viewer into the film. The film opens with some white words on a black background. These words are from a song in the middle of the play, and Branagh has brought this forward to the beginning, as the song sums up the themes and plots of Shakespeare's play. The lines: "sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more, men were deceivers ever," speak of love and deceit- women being deceived by men - and is a good summation of the play's plot and themes. This is a somewhat bold move, as it contrasts greatly with the conventional openings of films - a colourful or atmospheric scene which draws the audience in. ...read more.

Middle

The advance of Don Pedro and his entourage is shown in slow motion accompanied with the majestic theme from the orchestra and as they gallop towards Leonato's residence the hooves of the horses fall in time to the music, this makes for a very impressive entrance which, I think stresses their importance in the play. This also gives Branagh the opportunity to show the riders separately though who they are is not made apparent by doing this. As the riders approach the castle, Branagh has added a small section to the film showing the women and men getting ready with some harmless nudity and showing the women of the castle getting into a frenzy as they try to get ready, while the soldiers joke as they get ready to bathe. I think this was added to make for a smoother transition between the arrival of the soldiers and the meeting between Don Pedro and Leonato because, while it may have been acceptable in a play or theatre production to have a slightly abrupt change it may be considered out of place in a film. This small scene also helps make the film more interesting as well while emphasising the playful humour which is evident throughout much of the film and play. ...read more.

Conclusion

Towards the end of this scene, Don John is noticed, staying sullenly out of the way in a comer of the courtyard. The change in mood of everyone in the room makes a markedly contrast in the atmosphere of the scene. The music changes to a minor key becoming soft as well. This sudden contrast from the jovial atmosphere to sombre silence implies to the audience that the character is a villain which is reaffirmed by his tense, stammering reply to Leonato's offer at hospitality. The scene then ends with Don Pedro and Leonato leaving the courtyard, behind the others, while Benedick and Claudio remain behind. Overall, Branagh uses the many film techniques available to depict the scenes from Much Ado About Nothing in a way that will interest film viewers and will bring out many of Shakespeare's own ideas. He uses a script very close to the original play, and I think this brings out much of the Shakespearean character of the film. In conclusion I must say that the opening scenes of the film do convey the humorous and light -hearted aspect of the play, and introducing the characters and their roles in the play, while also bringing forth the themes of love and the possibility of deceit. ...read more.

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