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Love's Labour's Lost [VHS]


Love's Labour's Lost [VHS]

Love's Labour's Lost [VHS]

No it's not a word for word adaptation of Shakespeare's original play, yes some of the acting is a bit flat and it is incredibly corny in places. That said the 1930's musical style does bring something wonderful to the performance and it is very watchable and enjoyable to non Shakespeare buffs. I agree with a previous review that the scene at the masquerade ball is a bit extreme for U performance and would have thought it would have been rated PG. However, despite its flaws I love this adaptation and having owned it on VHS I had to get the DVD version too. The DVD is even better as it has extra features including deleted scenes, bloopers, the original trailer and a featurette.
About 17 years late watching this but have finally managed to catch it. Running time is fast for a Branagh Shakespeare film (90 mins) and he clearly had to make some costly compromises. Visually this is a lovely film full of colour, somewhat stagey composition and some great performances, all somewhat curtailed by a savagely cut text that makes room for Branagh's key idea- classic song and dance numbers from the days of real hoofing in films like Top Hat and homages to Busby Berkeley cinematography. The use of pastiche pathe film clips cleverly divides up and defines the narrative and Branagh is seemingly a floppy haired youngster (Berowne) in the kings court at Navarre. The casting generally works well though Branagh stalwarts such as Richard Briers are somewhat wasted in cutting room cameos. Tim Spall is fun as Don Armado taking it right to the edge of Shakespearian clowning, whilst Nathan Lane is an assured and goofball Costard. Nice to see a thrillingly young Adrian Lester hoofing like the pro he is and the French Princess is gamely played by Alicia Silverstone.Overall, Branaghs film catches the central idea of the play but cuts too much text to allow some characters to develop as though (unusually for Branagh) he is scared of boring his audience- there will always be another song along in a minute if there appears to be the hint of a longuer.However, Branagh's excuse appears to be that it is one of Shakespeare's more obscure stories so lets dump most of the plot and just harp on with the main storyline.I was genuinely taken with the look of the thing and the singing and dancing is not half bad though Branagh has little vocal range as a singer. Nathan Lane is assured as is Lester and the direction is for want of a better word, pacey... Plenty of Love,Plenty of Labour but something is lost.
What a brilliant idea to mix thirties broadway musicality with Shakespeare comedy and prose. BUT, the song and dance got so carried away that the storyline side got cut to smitherines. What you are left with are several dis-jointed fragments of the story that dont always follow through. The result was more of a revue than the actual work itself. "Kiss me Kate" springs to mind as a cover idea of the actual "Taming of the Shrew " story but then that was a completely seperate concept and didnt claim to be Shakespeare for Shakespeares sake. Hats of to the splendid standard Shakespeare acting crew, many of whom had done very little or no singing or dancing before. Had there been a better mix of acting and showtime with the story not being so obliterated the result would have been perfect but, as I have already mentioned, if you were not well versed in the original play you would have a tough job of following the storyline with its many nuances.The fim is not very long so there was no real need to cut the story and characters so very much. Token parts taken by the likes of Geraldine McEwan and Richard Briers didnt get a chance to develope their contributions and Nathan Lane, brilliant as he was ,was not allowed to give us the true nature of his character. Shakespeare can be a mish mash of characters but that is the beauty of his perception and even the very minor characters should be allowed to expand in their parts. It could have been outstanding. As it stands its very good.