“A Mid summer Night’s Dream” is another entry into Shakespeare’s recent rebirth on film. Michael Hoffman’s film dose not stay true to the text, but he must take liberties to allow for this classic story to be entertaining to today’s audience. In this essay I will discuss the differences between the text vision and the film vision of this story from the historical setting, the time placement, Hoffman’s personal adaptations, and finally Hoffman’s character adaptations. In Michael Hoffman’s film of “William Shakespeare’s a Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Hoffman has made some changes to the location and historical aspects of the play.
Shakespeare drew upon classical mythology, English literature, English folklore and contemporary English life. So Hoffman had to try his best to update it to today’s views on mythology, folklore, and life. Hoffman’s film is set in Italy, instead of Greece like in the text. Hoffman may have chosen Italy instead of Greece, because Italy overall has a universal romantic feel to it. Also Hoffman may have chosen Italy because it is much more well know to the general moviegoers. Unlike today, in Shakespeare’s time Greece was the center of classical history, and would be know to most of the people of his day.
Hoffman did include a Greek theme when he invented the town of Monte Athena located in Tuscany. The town is made-up but still connects the text with Hoffman’s film. For the parts of the movie that would be filmed in the woods, they had the filming done indoors at a studio. They would need room to maneuver people and cameras, so the real outdoors would not do. The director would not have to deal with the weather, or having enough sun light. Also the indoor setting in allowed the fairies to observe the morals, in a believable setting. So now that I have show you the setting of the film, let me show you how time was a factor in Hoffman film.
In Michael Hoffman’s film the play took place in the turn of the century. Telling the story using the costumes of Shakespeare’s day would have alienated the viewer of the film. Also modern clothes would jar the mood, so the actors were costumed in clothes of the 1900’s. The turn of the century was far enough back to support romance views yet close enough so that the suits and dresses looked something like our clothes, and would feel “comfortable” to us. Unlike other films that copied the plot of Shakespeare’s work, but did not use Shakespearean language.
For example, the film “10 things I hate about you” that is a modern version of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrews. ” Hoffman’s film follows the Shakespearean format, just like the last few Shakespearean films: Othello, Much Ado about Nothing, etc. In a historical context it was the middle of the suffrage movement. So the woman of the time were more independent then in Shakespeare’s day. Also in Michael Hoffman’s film the used bicycles as a form of transporting. The bicycle was a new invention that would allow anyone the freedom of movement. It was a liberating experience that was expressed by the main charters in the film.
So now that I have shown you how time was a factor in Hoffman’s film. Let me show you how Hoffman adapted the play to his liking. In Michael Hoffman’s adaptation of the play many of the long speeches were shortened or left out. It is possible that Hoffman had to get the film in a two-hour time frame that most modern film fit into. Any longer and filmgoers would get bored, and restless. Usually large audiences see ether the film version or the stage version of “A Mid Summer Night Dream. “While the film is seen on the screen, the play is seen in real time, live.
Although in the feel version Hoffman had the ability to use special effects to display he view on how the magic would look like, instead of walking off stage. Hoffman added a character of Nick Bottom’s wife. She had only a few lines, in which all were in Italian. Also Nick Bottom’s wife was looking for her no good husband in the beginning of the film, while Bottom was trying to be covert, and not be seen by her. I Hoffman possible added this character so have a conflict between Bottom and his wife, so when Titania falls in love with Bottom, there would be a cause of the “affair. In Hoffman’s film, when Bottom was transformed in to the ass.
Instead of putting a mask on Bottom, like in many plays had the ears, hair, and a few other changes so that you could still tell that it was Kline. Possibly Hoffman thought it would be good to have an n attractive figure of a man as Titania’s lover, even with an ass’s head. Also Kline was the perfect candidate to play Bottom. Other than Kline and the actor who played Oberon, all the other the players in the film seem to be struggling to say the Shakespearean lines.
So Hoffman instead of using classically trained actors, he allowed these stars like Calista Flockhart, Anna Friel, and Christian Bale to be in the film, too possibly to gain ticket sales. So now I have show you how Hoffman adapted his film from the play, let me talk about how he changed, and added characters into the play. In Hoffman’s film an older man plays Puck. In the play Puck has been played as a mischievous young child. It is possible that Hoffman did this so at the end of the play when Puck has his last statement for the audience, the audience will be more conformable with an older adult, than a young child.
Also Hoffman may have had the belief that the fairies are immoral, so how old someone looks isn’t important. Hoffman also incorporated the fairies into the film as secretive beings that live among use, but we do not notice them. Right at the beginning of the film, you can see these little people stealing everyday objects. They take the objects back to the fairy world, as wonders of the outside world. Hoffman possibly uses these film moments as a way to incorporate the faries into the real world, so the view will not just have these fairies pop out of no were in the film. At the end of the film the fairies go around and bless the wedding.
After the blessing one of the fairies who I believe it is Titania visits Bottom. It may be a way for Titania to say good bye, and that she stills has a place for him in her heart. Michael Hoffman’s film is a well done film, but is not in the class of great Shakespearean films like Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V, Richard III, and Much Ado About Nothing. Branagh who has made Shakespearean works accessible to a wider audience. Hoffman has made to many changes to this classic. Although it is a well-done movie, to the die-hard Shakespearean faithful, it would be to their best interest to see it done on a stage.