2 September 2011 | KIM_HARRIS
Brave effort but .....
The problem with heavy cutting of a Shakespeare play, and this is cut by about 60%, is that you take away much of what makes it a fully rounded Shakespeare play. In this case, the text and the cast is cut to the bone so that all is left is the main plot; the subplots, which comment upon the theme, have been completely removed.
One interesting element is the revealing of the Duke as deeply hypocritical, and hypocrisy is a key theme of the play. This is achieved particularly well at the end, and Isabelle gives him an appropriate response in the always ambiguous ending.
The film is a brave effort as an experimental production with what was clearly a miniscule budget but it has a number of significant problems which cause it ultimately to fail: 1. Its brevity - the cutting is simply too savage. 2. The budget meant that the production values are low. The sound, at least on the DVD, is terrible. There is substantial echo in the corridors inside which makes speeches sometimes barely audible; wind noise in the microphones when outside; poor balance causes music to be overwhelming. 3. The makeup is simply awful. Claudio's bloody face looks like it was done with a child's paint box and Marianne has purple arms in the final scene. 5. The lighting is rudimentary and the photography patchy, although there are some good scenes.
Finally, the transcription of the setting to the British Army is an intriguing but ultimately unsuccessful idea. The function of the Viennese court is so fundamental to the setting of the play that it doesn't translate to an army camp very well.
For students of Shakespeare and modern adaptations, this is a useful film to watch - and it is only 72 minutes of your time - but for a proper and enjoyable production, take a look at the BBC's 1979 TV adaptation.