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William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's…

William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream (alkuperäinen julkaisuvuosi 1999; vuoden 2008 painos)

– tekijä: Kevin Kline (Actor)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
288472,341 (3.75)5
When two pairs of star-crossed lovers, a troop of inept amateur actors, a feuding pair of supernatural sprites, and a love potion gone awry all come together in an enchanted moonlit forest, the result is an unequalled mix of merriment and magic.
Teoksen nimi:William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream
Kirjailijat:Kevin Kline (Actor)
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
Arvio (tähdet):


A Midsummer Night's Dream [1999 film] (tekijä: Michael Hoffman (Director)) (1999)


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näyttää 4/4
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999)

Oberon – Rupert Everett
Titania – Michelle Pfeiffer
Puck – Stanley Tucci
Bottom – Kevin Kline
Lysander – Dominic West
Demetrius – Christian Bale
Hermia – Anna Friel
Helena – Calista Flockhart
Theseus – David Strathairn
Hippolyta – Sophie Marceau
Peter Quince – Roger Rees
Robin Starveling – Max Wright
Snug – Gregory Jbara
Tom Snout – Bill Irwin
Francis Flute – Sam Rockwell

Based on the play by William Shakespeare
Adapted and directed by Michael Hoffman

Colour. 116 min.


This movie is by no means as bad as you might have heard. To be sure, it is not the definitive Dream on the screen. Then again, there is no such thing. Despite its overwhelming popularity, or rather because of it, the play has proved elusive. The fact that it is all too often inflicted on children shows how little it is understood. What could a child know about love and hate, dreams and reality, mind and body?

Much like Branagh’s Much Ado, the play is updated to 19th-century Italy in a visually stunning way. Even this has drawn some criticism from pathetic puritans. Why not in Athens as Shakespeare said? Well, perhaps because the story has nothing Athenian in it, not even Theseus who bears no resemblance to Plutarch’s character. It was silly of Shakespeare to insist on historical setting in a story so timelessly unhistorical. If he wanted to make use of the idiotic idea that daughters are paternal property, he might as well have set the play in his own time.

The Italian setting enhances the drama with a very fine soundtrack and the notorious bicycles. The music is almost exclusively Italian opera; Verdi’s Brindisi, Bellini’s “Casta diva”, Donizetti’s “Una furtive lagrima”, Mascagni’s Intermezzo, all lollipops the public is a sucker for. Some of Mendelssohn’s incidental music is also used to a fine effect, most notably the Overture during the opening credits. Some people have objected to the bicycles with the same fervent indignation as missionaries in the old days objected to Polynesian dancing. But to my mind this charming locomotion device makes the flight and pursuit more effective than they would have been on foot.

The adaptation and the cast are admittedly mixed bags. But in both cases the merits outweigh the demerits.

Much of the play is cut, of course; and the rest is re-arranged in sundry ways. Some great lines are regrettably lost, for instance Hermia’s “I would my father look’d but with my eyes” and Theseus’s brutal rejoinder “Rather your eyes must with his judgment look”. Helena’s anguished “O, that a lady, of one man refused. / Should of another therefore be abused!” is also missing. Examples like these are countless, and usually more substantial, but for all that the essence of the relationships, which in this play are more important than the characters, is retained. The dark side is unfortunately lightened (most notably in the fairy world), but the comic banter is charming, naughty and, quite often, actually funny.

My only real disappointments in the cast are Rupert Everett, Stanley Tucci and David Strathairn. Everett mumbles his lines in the same soporific way as he did in An Ideal Husband. Give this man great drama, be it Shakespeare in verse or Wilde in prose, and watch how he ruins it! Tucci could have been a terrific Puck if he had put at least some effort in it. I don’t know if he was bored to death on the set, but he certainly gives that impression. Strathairn is a stiff and dull Theseus, his only insightful touch being his annoyance with Egeus in the beginning which anticipates his “overbearing” the father’s will in the end. Michelle Pfeiffer sounds awkward in “the forgeries of jealousy” (much abridged), but she improves in her asinine romance with Bottom.

The LHDH quartet fares better. Flockhart is a lightweight Helena, but with so much of her part gone she has no choice. Both Bale and West are somewhat uneven, but amusing enough with the comic stuff, if not really convincing in the more dramatic moments. Anna Friel, quite a lovely thing at the age of 23, is a poignant and sexy Hermia. The great scene that brings these four together in the woods, so crucial to the play and so difficult to bring off, ends as a battle in the mud here. This is surely not the best solution to the dramatic problem. But I have seen worse.

Bale, West, Friel and Flockhart at least do not “saw the air” in the manner so despised by Hamlet (and perhaps the Bard himself). One wonders why so many actors and actresses insist on doing just that in Shakespeare, usually combined with lots of shouting and even some acrobatics. They might as well say that the text isn’t good enough to do the job – or confess that they are not good enough to do it justice.

Kevin Kline is unquestionably the star of the movie. He makes Nick Bottom – that foolish chatterbox, that obnoxious bully – quite likeable, even lovable. And he does that in a suave and stylish way; no insipid pathos; no ham galore; nothing but great acting. The script is kinder to Bottom than the play, but this hardly makes Kline’s achievement less impressive. There are some palpable hits among the mechanicals. These must include the late Roger Rees (the Sheriff of Rottingham in Robin Hood: Men in Tights, remember him?) as the legendary producer and director Peter Quince and Sam Rockwell (Wild Bill in The Green Mile, remember him?) as an indifferent Flute but hilarious Thisbe.

As a total experience, the movie fails to deliver the magical experience that A Midsummer Night’s Dream should be. But so does every other version I have seen. William Hazlitt famously argued that no production could possibly do justice to the poetic sublimity of this play. I used to think of this as mere exaggeration born of Hazlitt’s own experience with one travesty after another in the theatre. But there might be something deeper in it, after all.

For my money, Michael Hoffman and friends strike the best balance between spectacle and substance. The 1935 extravaganza is only spectacle. The 1968 Peter Hall version is only substance. The 1981 BBC production is nothing at all. ( )
  Waldstein | May 1, 2019 |
Kevin Kline steals scenes, but then, so do others. This is the film that interested my daughter in Shakespearean tales, and it IS fun, but after XXX times (as in more than 30) I can wait a while to view it again. ( )
  kathyj | Mar 21, 2007 |
A cast that ought to have made a better movie. Boring, and not very interesting visually either. ( )
  isiswardrobe | Mar 19, 2006 |
näyttää 4/4
ei arvosteluja | lisää arvostelu

» Lisää muita tekijöitä (10 mahdollista)

Tekijän nimiRooliTekijän tyyppiKoskeeko teosta?Tila
Hoffman, MichaelDirectorensisijainen tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Bale, Christianmuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Everett, Rupertmuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Flockhart, Calistamuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Kline, Kevinmuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Pfeiffer, Michellemuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Shakespeare, WilliamOriginal playmuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Tucci, Stanleymuu tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu

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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia (1)

When two pairs of star-crossed lovers, a troop of inept amateur actors, a feuding pair of supernatural sprites, and a love potion gone awry all come together in an enchanted moonlit forest, the result is an unequalled mix of merriment and magic.

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