The Omitted Essay, Research Paper
When watching the Branagh version of Much Ado About Nothing, I tended to realize lines had been omitted from the movie. I then got further into the movie and some of the lines that were ones that foreshadow what had happened in the text. The purpose of this paper will show that lines left out of the movie were in some way essential to character development and aided in the movie’s plot confusion. The analysis took several watchings to create a vivid view of what lines were missing and why. So, as I was watching the movie I marked which lines were not spoken. This approximated to 1329. Wow! 1329 out of 2712 (give or take a few lines) were missing. Now I asked myself how is anyone going to get the full feel for this play, if there is 49% missing. Half an answer would be that the choices to leave out certain parts were to down play a character’s attitude or behavior. Or I could be way off base, and producers could have wanted to just save time and money in producing, editing, etc. It is the first choice I would like to consider.
When reviewing the lines left out, the first big chunk is in act 1 scene 1. Beatrice is describing Bene*censored*, “In our last con-/ flict four of his five wits went halting off, and now/ is the whole man governed with one;” (1.1,62). Which creates a dynamic that gives you a precursor to the rest of the play. This precursor being that Beatrice and Bene*censored* fight constantly, not like old friends, but old foes. The word choice that Beatrice gives in the opening of this play gives us that overall feeling that the two just do not see eye to eye. Hence, when they spar for the first time, 60 lines later, Beatrice seems a little more outspoken than is perceived, due to the omission of the lines. Bene*censored* comes off like a prince trying to defend himself. The lines make the sense of two friends giving each other a hard time, but the text gives them a sting. The omitted lines that help characterize the strength of words are needed for the sting to be apparent, which just lacks in the movie. The Branagh version showed lots of areas where Bene*censored* was coming off as doing nothing to spite anyone, which allowed Branagh to make Bene*censored* a better character than is portrayed in the text.
The next major spot in the text that is omitted from the movie is all of act 1 scene 2. This was an unusual choice, because this is where Leonato is shown to know that his daughter has a suitor. The wrong name is given, but still is an edited moment of comedy that allows a reader to know what is going on in the text, and who knows what and how. The movie did not let you know that Leonato was indeed aware of a suitor until he says “Daughter, remember what I told you. If the/ Prince do solicit you in that kind, you know your/ answer.”(2.1,65). When reading the text, this wrong information about the Prince being the suitor instead of Claudio being the suitor (the Prince just acting in Claudio’s name), is revealed in the scene that is mentioned earlier. It would help to make the comic nature of these lines unfold, instead of the confusion that comes about when the movie has the viewer confused to the textual facts of what is happening. Also it is the first time that somebody overhears (notes) a conversation and gives out wrong information, but this is also omitted in the prior mentioned scene. Consequently when people start to spy, it looks uncommon for the movie, but the text gives the notions of spying from the start.
The next major sets of lines that are not used in the movie are ones that foreshadow what is to happen in the rest of the play. Borachio has a set of lines in act2 scene3 that tell all about having Margaret in a chamber window having sex with Borachio using the name of Hero. The movie omitting these lines, makes Don John’s plot of ruining the marriage unknown to all until later, but the deed doesn’t come into full light on who was the perpetrator of this scheme till the conviction at the end of the play. This shows the confusion on who is involved with what. It also does not give the full picture the way the text does, maybe to give added suspense, but it actually just makes more confusion.
The beginning of act 3 omits the first 35 lines of text that Hero and Ursula speak to one another. These lines are the ones that reveal about the trick they are playing on Beatrice to make her fall in love with Bene*censored*. When they first speak in the movie it seems like Beatrice is walking into a normal conversation, not a planned set of words that are going to change her opinions of a man she loathes. Also with the omission of the first lines, and others, about her feelings toward Signior Bene*censored*, she is shown in the movie to be easily swayed away from the realm of hate for this man. In the text these trickery lines seem cunning because they are played on her emotions and doubts. Therefore omitted lines again create a blur about character development. This development being Beatrice being easily fooled in the movie, versus the careful planning that actually takes place in the text for this transformation to occur.
Next, the friar even gets cut off in the movie, when it comes to having lines omitted in act 4. This wise man who helps make things right again, gives short simple speeches in the movie. This could be to help in the understanding of what is going on in his philosophical words, but it does not give the full view of the friar’s worldly educated nature. The friar claims Hero’s innocence in his first speech which is not there in the movie, and makes all seem right and fair, in just 12 on his 100 lines.
These lines that have been omitted overall were some unusual choices. These aforementioned are just some examples of what was different from the text, versus the movie in question. Some of the omissions created confusion, others made characterization seem lacking. There is a spot however, in the movie that makes a positive change to text, and that is the confusion Dogberry gives off when speaking, Branagh tries to clear matters up with omission and changing lines around. Put things in a more logical sense, and understanding. This realm of work actually worked if the goal was to try and understand what Dogberry had to say, but again that ruins the confusing character that Shakespeare had created. Which in turn lacks developed characterization.
I feel that the movie was not an accurate representation of the text, and that with half the text missing, how could it be? This play was wonderful the way it was written, and Branagh has done wonderful work with other Shakespeare plays. I expected more out of this, I guess. Also I would have to say that the interesting choice Branagh made in omitting so many lines, important lines, aides in what I feel to be a half done job of script writing.