|Much Ado About Nothing|
|Directed by||Kenneth Branagh|
|Produced by||Kenneth Branagh|
|Screenplay by||Kenneth Branagh|
|Based on||Much Ado About Nothing|
by William Shakespeare
|Music by||Patrick Doyle|
|Edited by||Andrew Marcus|
American Playhouse Theatrical Films
|Distributed by||The Samuel Goldwyn Company|
|Box office||$36 million|
Much Ado About Nothing is a 1993 British/American romantic comedy film based on William Shakespeare's play of the same name. It was adapted for the screen and directed by Kenneth Branagh, who also stars in the film. The film also stars Branagh's then-wife Emma Thompson, Robert Sean Leonard, Denzel Washington, Michael Keaton, Keanu Reeves, and Kate Beckinsale in her film debut.
The film was released on May 7, 1993, reaching 200 U.S. screens at its widest release. It earned $22 million at the U.S. box office and $36 million total worldwide, which, despite failing to reach the mark set by Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet, made it one of the most financially successful Shakespeare films ever released. It was also entered into the 1993 Cannes Film Festival.
Having just crushed an uprising by his half-brother, Don John, Don Pedro of Aragon and his noblemen visit their friend Leonato in Messina. Accompanying Don Pedro is the witty Benedick, former lover of Leonato's equally sharp-tongued niece, Beatrice. Also present are Benedick's friend Claudio, a young count; and Don John who, despite his rebellion, has apparently reconciled with his brother. Claudio has been thinking of Leonato's beautiful daughter Hero since before he went to war, and returns to find her as attractive as ever. Don Pedro, learning of his friend's feelings, decides to act on his behalf and arranges the match at a party. An unrepentant Don John attempts to foil it, but unsuccessfully – the match is made. Needing something to pass the time until the wedding, Don Pedro decides to arrange a similar fate for Beatrice and Benedick, whose animosity for each other is clear.
Don Pedro, Leonato, and Claudio stage a conversation containing a false account of how much Beatrice loves Benedick, all the while knowing Benedick to be hiding within earshot. Hero and her gentlewoman Ursula play the same trick upon Beatrice. Each of them believes the story they hear about the other. In the midst of all of this good-natured scheming, Don John has been searching for ways to stop the marriage between Claudio and Hero. The night before the wedding, Don John's servant Borachio arranges a steamy liaison with Hero's gentlewoman Margaret at Hero's chamber window. Don John shows Don Pedro and Claudio this, and they believe that they are seeing Hero in the act of infidelity.
Against the revelry of the evening, the noble but incompetent constable Dogberry appoints a watch to keep the peace. The three hapless watchmen happen to hear Borachio bragging to his colleague Conrade about how he and Don John had succeeded in stopping the wedding. The watchmen apprehend Borachio and Conrade, and, in the morning, Dogberry attempts to have Leonato interrogate the prisoners. However, a hurried Leonato is unable to decipher what the bumbling Dogberry is trying to tell him. Amidst the confusion, Don John quietly flees.
At the wedding, Claudio publicly disgraces his would-be bride and storms away, along with most of the guests, except for Ursula, the Friar, Leonato, Beatrice, Antonio, and Benedick. They all agree to the Friar's plan to publish the tale that Hero, upon the grief of Claudio's accusations, suddenly died. Beatrice and Benedick linger a moment and eventually confess their love to one another. In the wake of this declaration, Beatrice asks Benedick to do the one thing that will satisfy her outrage with what has just happened – kill Claudio. With a heavy heart, he agrees to challenge his friend. Meanwhile, Borachio and Conrade are interrogated by Dogberry and his men. Despite Dogberry's incompetence, the truth of Don John's sinister machinations is revealed.
Moments after Benedick's challenge to Claudio, Leonato is made aware of what really happened. Leonato continues to pretend to Claudio that Hero is dead. Claudio entreats Leonato to impose whatever vengeance he sees fit for Claudio's part in Hero's disgrace and death. Leonato forgives Claudio on the condition that he publicly declare his wrongdoing and then marry Hero's cousin - Antonio's daughter - the next morning. Claudio agrees, and carries out the former by reciting an epitaph at Hero's tomb that night.
When the bride is brought forth the next day, she is revealed to be none other than Hero herself. She and Claudio profess their true, undying love for each other, as do Beatrice and Benedick, who agree to marry. Benedick renounces his challenge against Claudio and embraces him. Moments later, Don John is marched in, having been captured before he could escape. Those gathered begin to dance, with the two happy couples at the middle. Don Pedro remains behind, still single, but happy for his friends.
|Much Ado About Nothing|
|Film score by|
|Released||4 May 1993|
The music to Much Ado About Nothing was composed by frequent Kenneth Branagh collaborator Patrick Doyle, who makes a brief cameo in the film as Balthazar singing Sigh No More Ladies and Pardon, Goddess of the Night. The soundtrack was released May 4, 1993 through Epic Soundtrax and features twenty-four tracks of score at a running time just under an hour.
Much Ado About Nothing received general acclaim from critics. The film currently holds a 90% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a website that aggregates professional critiques, from 48 reviews with the consensus "Kenneth Branagh's love for the material is contagious in this exuberant adaptation."
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it three out of four stars, calling it "cheerful from beginning to end". Vincent Canby of The New York Times also wrote the film a positive review, praising Branagh's direction and calling it "ravishing entertainment". Desson Thomson of The Washington Post praised Branagh's cuts to the text as giving "wonderful import to this silliness from long ago" and stated that "Kenneth Branagh has, once again, blown away the forbidding academic dust and found a funny retro-essence for the '90s." Online critic James Berardinelli gave the film a glowing four-star review, calling it a "gem of a movie", especially praising the accessibility of the humor, the performances, and Branagh's lively direction, of which he wrote, "This film cements Branagh's status as a great director of Shakespeare, and perhaps of film in general, as well."
Conversely, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone wrote the film a negative review, praising some moments as "invigorating fun", but ultimately calling it "overripe". Most of the negative criticisms focused on particular casting choices, notably Keanu Reeves as Don John, and Michael Keaton as Dogberry. For his performance in the film, Reeves was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor, where he lost to Woody Harrelson for Indecent Proposal.
|Award||Category||Recipients and nominees||Result|
|British Academy Film Awards||Best Costume Design||Phyllis Dalton||Nominated|
|Cannes Film Festival||Palme d'Or||Kenneth Branagh||Nominated|
|Evening Standard British Film Awards||Best Actress||Emma Thompson||Won|
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy||Kenneth Branagh||Nominated|
|Independent Spirit Awards||Best Film||Kenneth Branagh, Stephen Evans, David Parfitt||Nominated|
|Best Female Lead||Emma Thompson||Nominated|
|London Film Critics' Circle||British Producer of the Year||Kenneth Branagh||Won|
|Golden Raspberry Award||Worst Supporting Actor||Keanu Reeves||Nominated|
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists: