Ken's In Love With Shakespeare

Teletext (UK), April 4 1999

Actor/director Kenneth Branagh has again turned to William Shakespeare for his new film - a musical version of Love's Labour's Lost set in the 1930s. The project will be the bard-loving board-treader's fourth movie adaptation of a Shakespeare play.

His '30s musical version of Love's Labour's Lost will feature songs by Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin and other top tunesmiths of the era.

"Love's Labour's Lost seems to lend itself quite effortlessly to 1930s musical comedy," says Branagh, whose production is currently filming at Shepperton Studios.

"The musical numbers add energy, style and glamour to the existing romance and create what I hope will be a very entertaining film," he explains.


Branagh, once called the new Laurence Olivier, has used his professional pulling power to bring Shakespeare to a new audience. Movie lovers turned out in droves to see favourites Keanu Reeves and Denzel Washington in his excellent version of Much Ado About Nothing.

And now Alicia Silverstone, Truman Show star Natascha McElhone and Timothy Spall hope to have the same effect in Love's Labour's Lost.

With the mega-success of Shakespeare In Love and the Leo DiCaprio Romeo And Juliet before it, Shakespeare is now as hip as he was in Elizabethan times. Branagh, who has done more than anyone to bring the baldy bard into vogue, thinks his Love's Labour's Lost will be just as effective.

"The ups and downs of the plot - with four couples in love but unable to admit it - is funny, charming, sexy and also surprisingly moving," he says.

In love with Shakespeare

Kenneth Branagh and William Shakespeare seem destined to go together. Branagh joined the Royal Shakespeare Company at 23, did more of the bard's plays for his own Renaissance Theatre Company and adapted, directed and starred in the film Henry V in 1989.

When his monster flop Frankenstein brought his first notable professional setback, the all-rounder re-established his reputation with a fine screen version of Hamlet.

Even after a career-long association with the Stratford stagemaster, Branagh can't get enough Shakespeare. He has formed The Shakespeare Film Company with producer David Barron and designer Tim Harvey to "formalise our passionate commitment to producing Shakespeare on film".

With a man of Branagh's classical pedigree at the helm, it's no holds bard for the forseeable future.

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