Essay about Film Versions of Shakespeare Comedies

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Film Versions of Shakespeare Comedies

Shakespearean plays are complex, intricate pieces of work in which a diverse range of interpretations and readings can be made. This is particularly true of his comedies, where the light-hearted humour is often offset by darker, more serious undertones. In adapting these comedies it is for the director – in the cinematic context – to decide how to interpret the play and which elements are privileged and which are suppressed. This variance in interpretation is exemplified in comparing two of the more recent cinematic adaptations of Shakespeare’s comedies, Trevor Nunn’s Twelfth Night and Kenneth Branagh’s A Much Ado About Nothing [‘Much Ado’]. Although both films can to an extent be seen as
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This action is the first imperative step that leads to the undoing of several characters, primarily Malvolio. It is essentially Malvolio’s ultimate narcissism that allows the other characters to easily plot his demise .

Nunn’s adaptation of Feste is not dissimilar to Malvolio with his interpretation of the ‘professional clown’ proving persuasive because the fool presents wise insights into the complicated web of love that many principal characters become entwined with. His ability to suggest that love is a game, that lovers often love to love, and that love can be almost blind, are important themes to the attraction and comedy of the film. However Nunn utilises Feste above the scope of the comedic, with his poignant insights reminding the audience that this film is in fact dealing with serious issues and at times, the deeper, disturbing, side of love. In Ben Kingsley’s moving performance, Feste becomes an outsider as a man who lives alone away from Olivia’s house yet somehow witnesses all that occurs amongst the characters and provides some telling insights. This is illustrated when he shows Olivia why "take away the fool" could mean take away the lady," arguing not only to save his job but also out of a deep compassion for Olivia’s grief over her brother's death, and a desire to show why she need not commit
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