I just watched Kenneth Branagh's version of Shakespeare's As You Like It (2006) for the first time.
This version showcases what he calls the play's "Deliciously frivolous quality."
It is set in 19th century Japan which I found odd at first but ended up liking.
"I wanted to put it in a potentially violent place, but also a place that addressed the other themes within the play, which are the notion of romantic love- boy meets girl."
The movie starts with a stage.
The ruler, Duke Senior (Brian Blessed), his daughter Rosalind (Bryce Dallas Howard), her best friend and cousin Celia (Romola Garai), and many other people of court are attending a Japanese theater when they are attacked by Senior's brother Duke Frederick (also played by Brian Blessed).
This scene establishes a brother against brother theme with the two Duke's as Duke Frederick banishes his brother to the forest of Arden while Orlando De Boys (David Oyelowo) and his brother Oliver (Adrian Lester) fight over their inheritance. Orlando also leaves the city.
Rosalind ends up being banished as well and Celia decides to go with her, along with the clown Touchstone (Alfred Molina). They need to disguise themselves. Rosalind does so as a boy and names herself Ganymede.
This makes it interesting when she meets the boy she loves, Orlando, in the forest. She notices Orlando's love poems on the trees all over the woods declaring his love for her. She goes to him in her disguise to teach him the finer points of courtship.
The forest is soon full of interesting characters.
This is the first Shakespearean film that Kenneth Branagh has directed that he hasn't appeared in. The cast is then led by Bryce Dallas Howard. I loved her performance as Rosalind. She was fantastic. Coming off just watching her in Jurassic World and then seeing how good she is in this, I have become quite a fan of her.
The film as a whole was a lot of fun.
Great performances all around, beautiful scenery and costumes, and as you expect with a Kenneth Branagh adaptation of Shakespeare- sassiness and an emphasis on the humor. It reminded me a lot of Much Ado About Nothing.
The picture seems to end without the play's Epilogue.The closing credits begin bu then they are interrupted by Bryce Dallas Howard, still in character, speaking the Epilogue as she begins to walk through the crew to her trailer. Kenneth Branagh can be heard saying "Aaaand...cut!" After this, the closing credits resume.
The film received a Golden Glove nomination and a Screen Actors Guild nomination (in the "Made for TV" category even though it wasn't actually made for television).
If you like Shakespeare, adaptations of Shakespeare, and Kenneth Branagh's style of directing, I think you will really enjoy this film!
Here is the trailer. It is not very good quality but it was the best one I could find: