Bard at the Box Office

Shakespeare in the 21st Century

Review: Twelfth Night (1996)

Twelfth Night in 1996, photo courtesy of

Twelfth Night in 1996,
photo courtesy of

It occurred to me last night that I have not done many movie posts, not since I first began the blog. Well, no time like the present!

I ran a search for adaptations of Twelfth Night, and found out that there was one which starred Helena Bonham Carter as Olivia. And thus my search ended quite quickly.

To my mind, Helena Bonham Carter is one of the best actresses around today. Not only was she Bellatrix Lestrange in Harry Potter, she also was Queen Elizabeth in the King’s Speech (the mother of the current Queen Elizabeth II) and she also starred in a movie in the 80’s opposite *sigh* Cary Elwes in the title role of Lady Jane Grey.

Another interesting link that this film has to Harry Potter is that Imelda Staunton (a.k.a. Professor Umbridge) is featured in the role of Maria, the instigator of the prank on Malvolio. It’s very fun to see her portray a benevolent practical joker, rather than an incredibly awful and spiteful woman (who I certainly wanted to see die more than I ever did Voldemort).

This is one of the best adaptations of a Shakespeare play that I have seen as a movie. It stayed very true to the script, and while the setting was Victorian rather than Renaissance Italy, but the setting worked.

In my opinion, it would be nice to see more movies set in the Renaissance, but it is a measure of creativity that goes into setting a play anachronistically. I have seen Victorian settings done quite a bit. Sometimes, like in this instance, it is done superbly, with period-appropriate music, costumes, and sets. I have also seen productions of Shakespeare’s plays set in Victorian times that were done absolutely horribly. But that’s for another post.

I can’t say that I had any issues with this movie. I found myself commenting on the action (which I very rarely do when I’m alone. And yes, I talk to myself, but my motherhas yet to have me tested 🙂 ) and looking up various songs from the soundtrack even after I finished watching the movie.

All in all, I’d give this film 5/5, both for the adherence to the original script, and for the appeal to the audience. I very highly recommend this movie.

I’d love to hear what your favorite Shakespeare movie adaptations might be in the comments. Who knows? I may review them on here. 🙂

And now, I’d like to leave you with a little melody from the movie, as sung by Sir Ben Kingsley:

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2 thoughts on “Review: Twelfth Night (1996)

  1. I don’t think I’ve seen this interpretation of the play before. I’m adding it to my list of must-sees. Thanks for the recommendation. 🙂


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