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Much Ado About Nothing (2004)

Much Ado About Nothing (2004)

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4.05 of 5 Votes: 4
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0743482751 (ISBN13: 9780743482752)
simon & schuster

About book Much Ado About Nothing (2004)

Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon, in Spain, is coming to Messina, the capital of Sicily, for a little R&R, just having defeated his treacherous half- brother, in battle, (with few casualties, nobody important), Don John (the "Bastard"), they are now reconciled again ! His army needs it, Rest and Relaxation, the governor of that city is his good, longtime friend, Leonato. The time, is unstated, but Aragon, ruled that island, in the 15th century. Count Claudio, who gained glory in battle, in the Prince's army, and a favorite of his royal boss, meets "Hero", lovely daughter of Leonato. No need to say they fall madly in love and are soon engaged. Claudio best friend is Benedick, another noble soldier, Hero has a cousin named Beatrice, the other two, don't love each other, quite the reverse. The sharp tongued, with wit, Beatrice, is known for causing her suitors, to quietly go into the night, meekly, dejectedly, and afraid. The battle of words between these people (Beatrice and Benedick), are electrifying, put downs, name calling, venomous insults, anything goes, they fly like trailers in a tornado. Don John hates his half- brother, Don Pedro, is jealous of his power and position, will always try to embarrass him, if he can't usurp the Prince... So Don John, his men, Borachio, and Conrade, conspire to wreck the marriage of Don Pedro's friend, Claudio. The Prince's brother, is a petty man, and arranges with Don Pedro, Claudio, and himself, to view the apparent, infidelity of Hero, the three secretly watching below her window , at night, with the recognized Borachio, in plain sight, but is the daughter of Leonato, there ? All is ruined, the distraught Claudio , breaks the engagement at the altar, with angry accusations, Hero faints dead away. Her father Leonato and his brother Antonio, are humiliated, shamed and later on very enraged, these ancient gentlemen want revenge, family honor demands it ! But what can they do ? In another strange turn of events, with the help of the Prince and a masquerade ball, Beatrice and Benedick, unknowingly dance together , soon after , start to really like each other! And the villains, Borachio and Conrade, are shortly arrested by the night watchmen of the city , overhearing them talking about some interesting secrets, information, that is vital to many people. Brought to their leaders, Dogberry, the chief and his deputy, Verges, both speak a kind of language, that only they can understand, their words mean exactly the opposite, of what is said, Dogberry says to his men, about the criminals, "Come, take away the plaintiffs" and "Don't you suspect my office ? ". The clownish, kindhearted, old men, have seen better days, will these friends, be able to find out the crimes of Don John, before it is too late? Shakespeare, the greatest writer who ever lived, has another superb play, one of many, in his illustrious and unequaled career....

Edit 5/6/12 The perfect song to accompany a reading of this play would be Sigh No More by Mumford & Sons. There are several lyrics ripped straight from the text, not to mention similar themes. And it makes me oh so happy. :)There are spoilers here, but this is Shakespeare. No way am I putting up spoiler tags.According to the note in my copy, in Shakespeare's day the word "nothing" was pronounced "noting"-- so, "Much Ado About Noting", noting being synonymous with eavesdropping. That pretty much sums up this play... people putting way too much stock in second-hand information.There are two (possibly three) main plots, including a messed up marriage between Hero and Claudio, which is nearly thwarted by Don John, the evilish villain who ruins other people's lives to distract himself from his own misery. Also featured are the comically inarticulate policemen-types, Dogberry and Verges.The real center of the story, at least in the public's eye, was always the love-hate relationship between Beatrice and Benedick. Their journey is one that's seemingly copied in crappy books (adult or YA) even today! They begin by antagonizing each other, but by extremely contrived and insufficient means somehow end the play in each other's arms. The biggest difference is that Shakespeare is awesome and the present-day authors are just struggling. It helps that the silly game of eavesdropping isn't the true reason for Benedick and Beatrice to finally admit their feelings; it's hinted they had a romantic past and are probably still holding feelings for each other.It's also still funny, despite being written hundreds of years ago. I find that so surprising-- although I'm not sure why, this isn't the first Shakespeare I've read. What especially tickled my funny bone was Dogberry's continual struggle with the English language. For example, mixing up "odorous" for "odious", "exclamation" for "acclamation", and "comprehended" for "apprehended". My favorite part was the very end, when Beatrice and Benedick were in the process of admitting they loved each other. Beatrice is talking, insulting Benedick a little as per usual, and he just goes: "Peace, I will stop your mouth" and gives her a big ol' smooch. Absolutely awesome.

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This edition is the the tie-in for the Kenneth Branagh movie, so it is the movie script - some of the play has been cut. It includes photos of the shot, including the names of the horses the men rode.Much Ado is my favorite Shakespeare play and I could write a wonderful essay about it (I did in college after all). Kenneth Branagh, however, says it best in the introduction:"In short, the play presents a whole series of emotional and spiritual challenges that we - young, old, male, female - continue to face when we love. And all throughout this comic debate about everything and nothing, there is life-giving, wisdom-bearing, humour and warmth. The piece is harsh and cruel as people can be. It is generous and kind as they can also be. It is uplifting but never sentimental. It 'holds the mirror up to nature' and allows us inside its wonderful warts-and-all world of human nature, to understand and perhaps even to forgive ourselves for some of our oft-repeated follies". (Branagh on page xvi).To which I say - WORD.

matt wrote: "And that he's demonstrably prone to excellent adventures, helplessly speeding automobiles as well as half-articulated philosophical probings into the nature of "reality"..."I guess that's obvious now that you mention it, Matt. The speeding part I really should have anticipated. You do live in Boston, after all.The new movie looks very good. Beatrice + Benedick = Sam + Diane ...... that's so right!

I am probably the last person in the whole history of the world to get it, but, just in case there's someone else left, it occurred to me yesterday that the title of this play had to be a rude pun. Five minutes on Google was enough to confirm my suspicions. From this page:In Shakespeare's time "nothing" was a euphemism for a woman's naughty bits. This gave the title three different yet equally appropriate meanings, as the main conflict over the play revolves around the false implication of Hero losing her virginity to another man while engaged to Claudio. Therefore it is "Much Ado about Nothing" as nothing was really going on, "Much Ado about Noting" as it's concerned with the views the characters have of each others' moral fiber (how they "note" each other), and "Much Ado about Nothing" as it was concerned with Hero's own naughty bits/her virginity.The Terry Pratchett quote at the top is also rather fine:Mind you, the Elizabethans had so many words for the female genitals that it is quite hard to speak a sentence of modern English without inadvertently mentioning at least three of them.With the help of a good online Shakespearian dictionary, I have been carrying out some experiments, and I'm afraid he's right. I have decided to remain mute for the rest of the morning to be on the safe side.

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