The English Language Centre in Kolkata held a blog contest on ‘The Shakespearean film/adaptation that has influenced me most and why’. Pranjal Mondal wrote one of three winning entries. Read his blog below:
“Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more
Men were deceivers ever,
One foot in sea and one on shore
To one thing constant never-“
-Much Ado About Nothing (Act II Scene III)
A noteworthy work as far as Shakespeare’s comedies are concerned, Much Ado About Nothing needs no introduction. The wit of the characters, the excellence of the plot and the occasional powerful humour makes the play an unforgettable experience. When such an immaculate plot is handled by a director as talented as Kenneth Branagh, it is bound to be a visual delight. Directed and produced by him, Much Ado About Nothing compels admirers of Shakespeare to appreciate ‘the loftiest hill’ even more. There have probably been far better Shakespearean adaptations in the history of cinema, but this work has influenced me the most.
Through the skills of Branagh, both as an actor and as the director, justice has been done to the work of Shakespeare. The gentleness of Hero, the wit of Beatrice, the credulity of Claudio, the wisdom of Friar Francis, the villainy of Don John and so on have been dealt with in the best possible way. Moreover, Emma Thompson as Beatrice and Kenneth Branagh as Benedick have not failed to captivate the audience with their expressions.
Although the play is a comedy, there are certain serious elements that enrich the plot. First, the way Benedick voluntarily parts from his dearest of kin to stand beside the lady he loves is unprecedented. Beatrice too plays the role of a woman of strength by not deserting her cousin even in the roughest of circumstances. Through the film, Branagh rightfully glorifies them.
On the other hand, the viewers are away from disappointment as he equally vilifies the diabolic nature of Don John and the changeable and credulous mind of Claudio. There are numerous aspects in the play which reflect what the qualities of a true human being should be. Apart from qualities like loyalty and chivalry, the playwright conveys the definition of a true man through Benedick. Thus the work has permanently occupied a little niche in my heart.
I must say that Beatrice is my favourite character. She is adept at winning hearts through her wit. You must be wondering what my favourite dialogue is. It is the one that defines Beatrice’s wit the best, the one she uses to accept Benedick’s proposal- “I would not deny you, but by this good day, I yield upon great persuasion, and partly to save your life for I was told you were in a consumption.”