Monday, December 3, 2012

Kenneth Branagh's Twelfth Night

I watched Twelfth Night, directed by Branagh.  Viola is played by Frances Barber, who plays Goneril in the Ian McKellen version of King Lear.  The movie is reminiscent of that version of King Lear in that it sits somewhere between a play and a movie. For all but two brief scenes (Viola and Sebastian after their shipwreck), the action happens in two sets, which are Olivia’s yard and Duke Orsino’s yard. The entire film takes place outside.  The scene in which Malvolio is picked on happens in Olivia’s yard where he is imprisoned in a sort of cellar. The colors are very subdued. Malvolio, played by Leonato from Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing, is quite old.  This makes his desire to win Olivia over seem even more presumptuous, but does not take away from his pitiable state at the end of the play which incites a lot of sympathy.

The overall mood of the movie is not very comedic.  It keeps all of Shakespeare’s language, but puts emphasis on the melancholy aspects of the play.  The subdued colors add to this, as does the portrayal of the fool.  He seems to have strong and obviously unrequited feelings for Olivia.  The only really funny character to me in the film is Sir Andrew Aguecheek, whose lack of wit is very entertaining.  This was surprising to me because he only annoyed me while I read the play. His part turns melancholic, too, however.  It was very interesting to see this interpretation of Twelfth Night and it enhanced my understanding of the play.  


  1. That's an interesting use of color. The blue tint certainly does convey a melancholy air to this scene. I don't even need to hear her speak or watch her perform to capture the mood.

  2. I also really enjoyed Andrew as the most, if not the only really funny character in this production. I also noted that this was much more solemn than I expected, and found that to be actually quite problematic. This play lacks enough seriousness to sustain a serious production, I believe. For me this production was almost a failure, since it tried too hard to be serious about things which didn't really have enough emotional backing to be sustained.

  3. this is the best performance, best available dvd version of the play, loved it.:)