Branagh has handled ”Henry V,” ”Othello,” and ”Hamlet” on screen – so why this relatively minor Shakespeare comedy? ”It’s a silly play that is little performed,” says the director, who, inspired by old Hollywood musicals, added tunes he handpicked himself. One of Shakespeare’s screwiest plots – the story follows a king (Nivola) and his chaste compadres, who are beguiled by a princess (Silverstone) and her attendants – the play lends itself to musical treatment.
But with an unusual vision and minimal rehearsal time, there was a risk of missing the mark – and drawing the wrath of purists. ”The real purists love it,” says Silverstone, citing the warm reception ”Love” received from the faculty of London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. ”It’s only arrogant journalists, who think [Shakespeare] is supposed to be boring, long, and spoken with an English accent, who have a problem.” Well, that’s telling us.