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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

DVD Watch: As You Like It

It's been a while since we talked Shakespeare. Like, forever I think.

As You Like It is one of The Bard's pastoral plays. Basically old Will wrote two types of plays - ones where (most) everyone dies in the end and ones where they all get married. Or sometimes (as The Girl pointed out) - they do both, although generally not in that order.

The basic plot is that a family gets banished from their kingdom and they go risk starvation in the woods while wondering lots of things about falling in love. Branagh moves this stage over to Japan for a bit of flair - and the flair works wonderfully. The movie is beautiful - every scene drips of color and nature. He's got a wonderful cast, including Ron Howard's daughter doing a splendid job, and the setting and acting blend incredibly well.

A main theme of the play is that Rosalind disguises herself as a boy while being courted by Orlando. People experienced with similar plays already know that in Shakespeare's fictional world, disguising yourself as a member of the opposite sex is insanely easy. Just dress in their clothes and it doesn't matter how much a person knew you intimately - they'll think you're someone else of a different gender. If you thought Clark Kent's disguise was silly - well at least he usually wore a hat and glasses.

This only leads me to assume one thing - women dressed as boys must have been incredibly common in Will's time. So common that their number must have challenged the actual boys, so that distinguishing the two became impossible.

Thankfully in our time, it just comes off as bizarre and funny. If you like this sort of thing - go rent Twelfth Night ... you'll find it hilarious.


Ron said...

Actually, the cross-dressing is a sly wink to the audience, who'd know that all the parts in Bill's plays were being played by men.

Josh said...

Well that's the cover story they feed you in Lit 101, but clearly with any society produces these plot points, a good number of those boys may have simply been women in funny hats to begin with...