Film Versus Theatre Presentations of William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing
Shakespeare's comedy Much Ado About Nothing is a witty play that is interpreted in many different ways for many different audiences. Branaugh's movie rendition, compared to the Shenandoah Shakespeare Company's play, have many separately emphasized points. If we look at elements such as use of space, costuming, and love relationships we find that Kenneth Branaugh emphasizes the separation of the military from the domestic which eventually heads down to the separation of men and women, while in the stage production, the director emphasizes the relationship and friendship between Claudio, Benedict, and Don Pedro.
In Branaugh's movie version of Much Ado About Nothing there is much emphasis placed visually upon the military and the domestic atmosphere. From the beginning of Branaugh's interpretation the clear distinction between the two groups is visually portrayed. The movie begins with Emma Thompson, Beatrice, reading aloud to her friends and family in a relaxed laid back setting. The first domestic scenes lay out the tranquility of Leonato's home compared to the rough and public military scenes. The first military scene shows Don Pedro and his comrades riding up to Leonato's house. The scene is visually pleasing with the soldiers striding up to the house on horses with their arms raised in the air in slow motion. A strong sense of military valor is established through the soldier's actions, and the movie has already established a sense of military and domestic space, which the play did not capture.
The Shenandoah Shakespeare Company's version of the play began very differently. There was no domestic or military atmosphere at all and the ...
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...oin the domestic group, but Don Pedro and Don John are not as faded out. Don Pedro is present in the end, however, he is not a main part of the action. All of the characters were present most of the time either sitting on stage or standing which made the two groups seem not as separate as in Branaugh's movie.
Branaugh and the company director both made many choices, which influenced their performances. I enjoyed the movie more the play because it was not only full of funny lines and puns, but the actors and the setting were amazing. They movie seemed to flow more for me and I enjoyed being able to see the characters in a serene setting without having to visualize it all. Shakespeare's play Much Ado About Nothing can be interpreted, acted, read, and visualized in different ways, but I thought that Kenneth Branaugh brought together an amazing cast and performance.