In case you missed it, I'm teaming up with Alyssa of Books Take You Places for Bard in the Blogs! Alyssa and I share a mutual love for William Shakespeare and his work, so we decided it would be an excellent idea to celebrate with a little blog event. I'm so thrilled to have so many wonderful people guest posting on both my blog and Alyssa's blog, so a bit thank you goes out to those who volunteered to share with us! I hope you enjoy all the posts (and look out for the giveaway too)! Today's second post is from Christina & Sarah of Between Bookends. They are sharing their thoughts on the Whedon adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing.
You know his name, you’ve heard his tales even if you haven’t read them yourself. Shakespeare is someone you cannot escape. He is still a pop culture question even centuries after his death, which is why it is fitting that he would team up with Joss Whedon (arguably the king of the screen right now) to bring a new interpretation of the play Much Ado About Nothing to the screen. Much Ado is our favorite Shakespeare play; a couple months before the movie came out we sat down and read the play out loud together. Before Whedon’s Much Ado we saw Kenneth Branagh’s version and a video of David Tennant and Catherine Tate’s stage production. Out of all the interpretations we’ve seen Whedon’s is our favorite and here are some reasons why.
EASIER TO UNDERSTAND
The setting is modern which somehow makes it easier to translate the Shakespearian world in a way that is understandable to our modern minds. The actors are casual and smooth in delivering their lines so that we often forget that it’s Shakespearian language and just absorb it all. We’ve always had issues understanding Dogberry (the idiotic chief of police who believes he’s intelligent) but Nathan Fillion’s delivery of the lines are HILARIOUS! The actor remarked that in order to memorize the dialogue he first had to understand what he was saying, we think that understanding of the character came through and made it easier for the viewers.
THE VIEWING EXPERIENCE
The whole film is in black and white and it makes everything classy and dramatic. It helps set the tone for the movie and gives it that noir feeling. Everything looks better in black and white and there are many scenes were we just want a screen shot on the wall because it is just so BEAUTIFUL! The black and white also helped when filming because when there was a bright orange lawnmower in background they didn’t have to worry about it ruining the shot. It blended right in!
Shakespeare doesn’t always make believability easy. Why would Don Pedro pretend to be Claudio to woo Hero in Claudio’s name so that Claudio could get married to her? Because they are drunk! It’s is very rare to see the characters without a drink in their hand, and to be honest, it explains a lot!
One of the best things about this movie is the consistency in tone. Characters don’t seem hot and cold, you can believe their actions because it fits them. Claudio is the perfect example of this because he is known for being a very changeable character. Fran Kranz said that he played him as an idiot jock the entire time. That portrayal of the character adds a consistency that Claudio usually lacks and creates a more believable and sympathetic character. We have never liked Claudio more.
And for all you who wished Hero would sucker punch Claudio… well, that doesn’t happen. BUT she does get visibly angry and looks like she is thinking about it. Go Hero!
Whedon also gives Benedick and Beatrice a romantic backstory usually not seen AND IT EXPLAINS EVERYTHING! The romantic history is hinted at twice in the text, but never actually confirmed. By confirming their past it adds a reason for the anger and later the quick turn in feelings.
BENEDICK & BEATRICE
I think everyone can agree that the stars of Much Ado are Benedick and Beatrice. There is nothing more fun than a bickering couple denying their feelings for one another. In this version their arguing takes on a darker and bitter tone, the characters trying to wound the other with their words, but you still can’t help but laugh. The bitterness between them also makes the ending even sweeter when you get to it.
If you have the chance to watch the film with the commentaries afterwards, we would highly recommend it. The cast commentary is the best and worst commentary we have ever heard because it is funny and crazy and there are so many people laughing and talking that we feel like we are there with them. At the same time, because everyone is talking sometimes you cannot pick out individual conversations and it’s just a blur of words. The Director commentary is just Joss Whedon talking. It is interesting hearing about the making of the film (which was set in his house), the discussion of the text, the artistic reasoning behind different shots, etc. The short videos on the making of the film and the story of them traveling to a film festival in a tour bus are also incredibly enjoyable and we watch them almost as much as we watch the film.
This movie as a whole is funny, heartbreaking, and dramatic. We find ourselves caring for all the characters, even the plain dealing villain, the ass, and Hero. We hope that if you haven’t seen this film before that we have convinced you to check it out. If you have seen it before we’ve had fun fangirling about it with you! “For man is a giddy thing, and this is [our] conclusion.”
-Christina & Sarah
Thank you so much for sharing such a thorough review of Much Ado About Nothing, Christina & Sarah! I haven't yet seen the film, but I definitely want to after reading what you had to say. Plus, you can't go wrong with Whedon either.
As mentioned in previous posts, Alyssa & I also teamed up for a giveaway. We're going to be picking TWO WINNERS to pick the SHAKESPEARE RETELLING of their choice. Best part? It's open INTERNATIONALLY (as long as Book Depository ships to your country). For an idea of what retellings you can pick, here's a handy list. You can enter via the Rafflecopter form below.