Shakespeare's intertwined love polygons begin to get complicated from the start--Demetrius and Lysander both want Hermia but she only has eyes for Lysander. Bad news is, Hermia's father wants Demetrius for a son-in-law. On the outside is Helena, whose unreturned love burns hot for Demetrius. Hermia and Lysander plan to flee from the city under cover of darkness but are pursued by an enraged Demetrius (who is himself pursued by an enraptured Helena). In the forest, unbeknownst to the mortals, Oberon and Titania (King and Queen of the faeries) are having a spat over a servant boy. The plot twists up when Oberon's head mischief-maker, Puck, runs loose with a flower which causes people to fall in love with the first thing they see upon waking. Throw in a group of labourers preparing a play for the Duke's wedding (one of whom is given a donkey's head and Titania for a lover by Puck) and the complications become fantastically funny. Written by
I'm a professional live theatre stagehand. People who are too centered on movies will have a hard time with this picture. If you could see the original first run performance of this play in Elizabethan England you would think you had stumbled into an over-costumed poetry reading. If the movie is hard to follow try & imagine what viewing that play would be like. It is the measure of Shakespeare's greatness that now 400 years later & in a medium born of photography that this greatest of fantasies still rings true. Try to show some respect; Shakespeare defined modern English. In comparing the lines to the original I thought that the adaptation was sensitive & well thought out. Simplified to fit the film medium but not sacrificing any of the truly great lines that actors drool over. The fairy world sets seemed cramped to me & reminded me of Cocteau's Beauty & the Beast. I personally found the setting of the movie in turn of century Italy kind of fun. Resetting Shakespeare in times & places other than he wrote is pretty much standard practice. The bicycles & the phonographs were amusing to me & generated some fun business for the actors. Kevin Kline was excellent as the ass. He got you to sympathize not pity or deride. In fact the whole amateur troop was memorable. Stanley Tucci was the quintessential Puck. Calista Flockhart threw everything including the kitchen sink into her part. Don't accuse her of overacting though; you'll only give away that you have never been deeply in love. Michelle Pfeiffer was radioactive beautiful, probably fatal closer than ten feet. Rupert Everett maintained perfect believability in a difficult part which is essentially support for Puck. As an answer to anyone who thought that things were a bit oversexed. The Renaissance was all about the rediscovery of the fact that people are noble & beautiful, not sinful & ugly. Shakespeare was one of the greatest products of the Renaissance. The movie is true to those Renaissance ideals. To sum up; a class act & class acts are not for everybody.
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