A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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Assignment 4 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

        In the early 1590’s, William Shakespeare wrote a play. This play was about the power of the mind and the importance of love. It was called ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.

        The theme of the play is based around the difference between illusion and reality. This is shown through love and the fact that true love never did run smooth. The play also emphasis how love can provoke hate and envy and cause people to do irrational things. In the play, order and disorder shows the need for power.

        The play is set around dreaming. Themes and ideas of dreaming constantly reoccur throughout the play. The word dream or dreaming is in the title, one of the first speeches and the last speech. The whole play is also about sleeping. In many cases, sleeping and waking up to find that you love someone different. Dreamy words regularly appear throughout the play.

        The play is a romantic comedy. Many strange, surreal situations take place during the play. One example is of fairies squeezing love potion onto lovers’ eyes. These times of surreal goings on cause the audience’s power of imagination to click into gear. This is because in Elizabethan times, there was little stage scenery and no special effects, which we all take for granted today. The audience were expected to willingly suspend their disbelief in imagining up scenery, almost like they were ‘dreaming’ it.

        Because Shakespeare thought imagination so powerful, in this play, reality and illusion became indistinguishable. To a Shakespearean audience, this was proved through theories of witchcraft and wizardry. People were wrongly accused of witchcraft and killed for it because people were so brainwashed that they believed it was true. Clearly the Elizabethans were more superstitious than we are today but they enjoyed being entertained by supernatural stories.

        There are three main groups of characters in the play. The fairies are creatures that have control over the mortal world. If there is disruption in the fairy world, the mortal world is also disrupted. The lovers are a group of four people under the powerful intoxication of love. They will do anything they can for love including a possible fight to the death. The mechanicals are good-hearted workmen of Athens with the desire to earn a pension by performing a show for the Duke.

        I have studied two film versions and a book of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and the following essay is what I discovered of them. Adrian Noble, who composed a simplistic stage version of the play, and Michael Hoffman, who created a state of the art studio version, directed the two film versions of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. The opening scenes of each film had a big impact on me of what was to follow. The Adrian Noble film version seems to be aimed at a wide-ranging audience but appeals more to a younger audience. The Adrian Noble film begins with slow, simple, dreamy music. This instantly creates the feel of a lullaby, which is connected with dreaming and sleeping. This is a perfect start to match what is to follow. Next is a simple, none threatening landscape. This creates a friendly image to the film.

        The opening scene of the film is the most realistic part of the Adrian Noble version. Everything is literal and real without any strange goings on. The rest of the film, however, is far different from this as there are many strange, surreal goings on throughout the film. The film also illustrates symbolic substitutions, such as light bulbs for stars, due to the fact that the film is a stage version and special effects are a virtue.

        The Michael Hoffman film version of the play obviously has a bigger budget than the Noble version, as it is more literal and realistic from start to finish created by many special effects. This impression is created right at the beginning of the film. My theory is exposed as the title of the film, an unthreatening yellow colour with a green meadow behind, flutters away in the shape of yellow butterflies.

        At this stage in the Noble version, a title in old English style writing fades in. It is simplistic and on a background of a night-time scene. This is how the dreamy, sleepy feel is created right from the start in the Noble version, whereas the Hoffman version takes a little longer to get the theme across to the audience.

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        After the opening title in the Noble version, a vision of a small boy’s room fades in. This is an added scene by the producer to add to the suspense and creation of a dreamy theme. The camera guides the audience around the room. The dark and shady room creates a sinister feeling, as we are shown the boy’s toys. One thing that sticks out is the boy’s play theatre. We see these objects reoccurring in the boy’s dream and some of the characters in his dream may be mixed up with the people in his real world. The boy ...

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