Although American culture places great emphasis on the silver screen, the medium has its limitations. Among them are a relatively short length of time in which to work, a broad audience with a short attention span, and several conventions to be observed when making a film in terms of plot progression and narrative. It therefore seems difficult, if not impossible, to retain the depth of a written work when one adapts it to film. When one attempts to adapt Shakespeare, perhaps the watermark of English literature, the chances are even more likely that many wonderful characteristics of the literature will have to be sacrificed.
[...] We are given nothing in the dialog or in the visuals which depict a difference in class: such a difference would suggest that Claudio accepts Don Pedro's offer out of fear of losing his rank. This is clearly implicit in the play's text, though the viewer finds it absent in Branagh's adaptation. Robert Sean Leonard also seems overly enthusiastic towards Don Pedro's offer. Combined with his persistent innocence, Robert Sean Leonard's Claudio comes across as a schoolboy too shy to admit a crush, rather than a warrior torn between politics and self-fulfillment. [...]
[...] The sheer volume of scholars and patrons that read Claudio's character in this manner does much to suggest that Shakespeare intended the young prince to serve as a unanimous voice of gullibility, rather than as a character that fell victim to a few malicious lies. Nova Myhill writes that "Claudio implies that only one interpretation of a spectacle is possible--a position that the play is at some pains to dispute." The point at which most feel that Claudio is most gullible is when he accepts what Don John tells and "shows" him as fact, though he has been fooled by him once before. [...]
[...] Don Pedro's courtship is inaccessible to any audience, including the paying one, until it is over." Myhill also notes that Benedick, serving the role of a disinterested character in this affair, is also willing "to consider the possibility," thereby calling into question Don Pedro's purity. Though it is eventually revealed that Don Pedro woos for Claudio, it cannot be certain that Don Pedro's motivation for doing so was entirely selfless. Likewise, Don Pedro asks for Beatrice's hand in marriage. Given the play's close, where Don Pedro is curiously without a bride, it is hard to say that Pedro's offer to wed Beatrice is executed entirely out of pity and selflessness. [...]
[...] in the context of popular films, students can readily recognize not simply the enduring conventions of romantic comedy but also the complex of disquieting responses the comedies of Shakespeare elicit . Branagh's recent Much Ado About Nothing makes clear how easily those qualities may be suppressed." Truly, Branagh has gone a very Hollywood route with the film, making sure the scenery is beautiful, the cast is filled with recognizable talent, and the cinematography is spectacular. This, however, is not entirely what Shakespeare was about. [...]
[...] In this, we see that the theme of seeing versus being is again discarded: whereas in the play, Claudio seems like a lamb but invites misfortune through his hot- headedness, the film pigeonholes Claudio as a foolish adolescent and absolves him of any wrong. Branagh's characterization is also shallower than Shakespeare's in his rendering of Don Pedro, especially in regards to his matrimonial desires. One source of confusion for many readers exists within why Don Pedro must woo Hero for Claudio at all, especially when the young man seems so enamored. [...]
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