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From: Amanda Horlock
Sorry Simon Dunmore, I must knock you off your Soapbox !:
"Oh God!" I heartily disagree with your sweeping statement that "None of Branagh's films has had any great value".
I have not yet seen "Loves Labours Lost"( & had no particular plan to do so ,no personal appeal for me in the 'Musical') until reading about 'high comedy'in "Recommends", However, I have seen all the other Branagh Shakespeare films.
"Much Ado...." is a beautifully filmed, feel good, romp; commercial? Yes, and sometimes commercialism leads to a 'pit' from which it is difficult to retrieve art, but not always. It also leads to, and is born from, popular entertainment. By a little submission to commercialism Branagh has made popular entertainment of the Bard once again; lest we forget the popularity of Shakespeare in his own time, and his necessity to succumb to political constraints in order to please his patrons and retain his patent.
Branagh's "Hamlet" is a lavish exercise in style and an incredible acedemic study of the wealth of themes and ideas in the text.
And his "Henry V", not yet surpassed by Branagh himself, marries popular tragedy with academic conceptualising and stylish film making. It utilises techniques only available to film to create epic narrative spectacle, and magnify the emotional content of the verse. With a different kind of intimacy to that experienced in the theatre, it deals with the universal political & personal truths of the play, with earthiness, clarity & power; certainly a worthy comparison to Olivier's propanganda war film of the forties and "of value" for this reason at least.
And a great deal more !
Unless, entertainment, academic stimulous, political debate and popularity, combined with style and beauty, and the power to "move" is of "no value".