Dear Kenneth Branagh: Please pass the crack pipe.

From the professor of a friend of mine:

WHAT THE HELL. (Hee hee hee!) Japan? Martial arts? Not an Asian cast member in sight? …Martial arts? I’m almost laughing too hard to compose this post properly. And, I have to admit, I’m a little anticipatory.

From the names we’re given, here’s the cast as best as I can figure:

Adrian Lester as Orlando
Bryce Dallas Howard as Rosalind
Romola Garai as Celia (quite similar to Amelia Sedley, in some ways)
David Oyelowo as Oliver
Kevin Kline as Duke Senior
Brian Blessed (or Alfred Molina?) as Duke Frederick
Kenneth Branagh as Touchstone
Janet McTeer as Audrey (Audrey’s usually younger, but not with a Touchstone as old as Branagh, I think)
Jimmy Yuill as William (he played Constable Dull in Love’s Labour’s, and I know Branagh loves reusing his actors ;))

I can’t figure out who of those names would play Jacques, who is age-wise the middle brother of Oliver and Orlando, and what Blessed and Molina are doing. :slight_smile:

And after that little exercise, my main reaction is still “Kenneth Branagh, WHAT THE HELL?!”

…yeah, I’m a little excited to see it. Because seriously. WHAT THE HELL?!

It’s a safe bet the thought process went like this:

“Akira Kurosawa’s Ran and Throne of Blood are bloody classics. People like Shakespeare with a Japanese flavour. I should make a Japanese-styled Shakespeare adaptation.”

Hey, Ken, can I get a hit off that, too?

Wait. That guy in the first posted article is named John Hiscock?! Good god.

Hey, it sounds cool to me. Why not? It’s not as if there’s a certain way you have to do Shakepeare. This new experiment of his might not work - it probably won’t - but it will definitely be interesting.

Besides, it can’t be weirder than Prospero’s Books.

It’s totally ridiculous, that’s why not. I mean, being inspired by Japan in general and Kurosawa in particular, and fusing that inspiration with a totally different genre that you’ve been passionate about all your life, bringing martial arts forms and Japanese-inspired costumes into it? And then not even filming it in Japan, but on a sound-stage at Shepperton, and at non-Japanese locations?

Clearly, the man has gone off the rails, because nothing good could ever come of such a quixotic project.

It’s not really even worth talking about, so if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go hang out in one of the dozen Star Wars threads that are cluttering up the joint. :wink:

Neat :smiley:

Funny your post is.

I think it sounds neat.
It could only be better if it were dubbed and the lips don’t match the voices.

Oh, and a big lizards stomps all over the set…that’d be cool.

Huh. I’ll see it, I think it sounds kind of cool, if more than a little odd.

I love Kevin Kline, Bryce Howard impressed me in The Village, and I must always see any movie with Brian Blessed.

Sounds miles better than that singing/dancing/Alicia Silverstone having disaster.

Again - why not? How ridiculous do you find West Side Story? I mean all that dancing and hispanics. One of the sure signs of Shakespeare’s genius is how his work shines in different settings and contexts.

About them not filming Japan in Japan:

It would be very difficult for Kurosawa to film things like Ran in Japan today. So much of the natural landscape has been covered with concrete or criss-crossed with power lines, that there isn’t really an unspoiled area large enough to masquerade as Old Japan anymore. (For example, almost all of the “Japan countryside” scenes in The Last Samurai were filmed in New Zealand.)

Taking that into account, when Mr. Branagh says this:

I’m inclined to think that he didn’t really visit Kyoto. (There are some beautiful shrines and temples in Kyoto, but for the most part they’re completely surrounded by the generic cityscapes of “Modern Japan.”)

You had me at “Brian Blessed.”

You lost me at “Kevin Kline.” (Seriously, who told the guy he could do Shakespear? I love him in contemporary roles, but his period stuff makes my brain hurt. He just has much too much of a modern energy to him.)

I’ll admit Love’s Labours Lost sucked the big donkey ass. But all Branagh’s other Shakespear works (and A Midwinter’s Tale) were wonderful. I will hold true to my faith and hope that he won’t screw this one up as badly as LLL.

I thought Kline as Nick Bottom was the best part of the recent Midsummer Night’s Dream. But then, I don’t think I’ve ever properly understood the ‘modern energy’ complaint.

Re: Brian Blessed and Kevin Kline: Remember, Branagh had Robert DeNiro and John Cleese for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and he still managed to royally muck it up. I’m still mad at my friend for dragging me to it.

I saw a production of King Lear by Pittsburgh’s Unseam’d Shakespeare Company several years ago that borrowed a good bit of Asian an Middle Eastern imagery. It also incorporated modern elements, interpretive dance, and some unusual music. Some of it was rather…ridiculous. At other times, it soared. So I’m not willing to write off Branagh’s vision for his project just yet.

He was.

I’m not sure what’s inspiring the laughter here unless it’s just uninformed snobbiness. Heaven forfend people should try and do something new and weird with Shakespeare. Better to just do it in Last year I saw a production of The Tempest that included a few Asian elements. They weren’t a problem. I know of other productions that have done the same thing.

It’s not like this is even close to the weirdest adaptation of Shakespeare I’ve ever heard of. I heard great things about Scotland, PA. Like tagos said, there’s West Side Story, and Forbidden Planet is after a fashion The Tempest in space. So I don’t know why the fuck Japanese influences are so weird. I don’t know if it will work, but with that cast and what we know I think it could.


“Heaven forfend people should try and do something new and weird with Shakespeare. Better to just do it in” 17th century costumes with proper English accents, 'cuz that’s how it was written. :smack:

I’ve always liked Kline doing Shakespeare – although I’ll happily admit I like Kline in almost everything.

As for the Branagh project, my reaction isn’t really “How dare he mess with the canon like that!” (I will happily admit to being the owner of his Love’s Labour’s Lost, which as far as I can tell no one else on the planet likes ;)), but more–


Because seriously. NINJA. SHAKESPEARE.

(I didn’t mean “pass the crack pipe” in a bad way.)


Ninja Shakespeare does sound ridiculous. Pirate Shakespeare, though, would totally rule.

I’ll chime in with another “So?”

Last year I saw a Kung Fu Medea on stage. It was brilliant.