Kenneth Branagh’s As You Like It: Plural Conflicts on- and off-screen

Roberta Mullini


Kenneth Branagh’s latest Shakespearean film, As You Like It (2006), has not so far encountered much critical interest. Even the ‘Community’ site of HBO Films is poor of comments (there are actually only two: one extolling the director for putting «his whole soul into his movies», the other lamenting the unavoidable cuts to the play text, up to the basic question «where is the rest of Rosalind?». A third and more critical comment showing some of the inconsistencies of the movie can be read via a link. The critics’ silence may be attributable on the one side to the film’s process of physical and cultural dépaysement (with the action taking place in late nineteenth-century Japan), and on the other to Branagh’s tendency to choose a ‘worldwide Shakespeare’ stance (in the casting, for example, where Orlando and Oliver are two black actors). Besides that, since As You Like It as a ‘romantic comedy’ hides conflict underneath the cover of a love story with an ‘and they all lived happily ever after’ ending, what strikes spectators is the violence surfacing in the film (from the very beginning when Duke Senior is usurped after a Ninja warriors’ attack).

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* Presentato dal Dipartimento di Letterature Moderne e Scienze Filologico-Linguistiche.

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