Sometimes you don’t have to go to the movies to understand the art and dedication of filmmaking. Sometimes, you can find the same (if not better) entertainment right on your bookshelf. Titan Books brings us that experience in Much Ado About Nothing: A Film by Joss Whedon.
Yes, director Whedon’s project can just be considered another film based on the classic Shakespearian comedic play from the late 1500’s. But the book includes a different perspective audiences can get as opposed to what plays out on the big screen. This volume includes the full screenplay text, some brilliant black & white photographs of the production set by Elsa Guillet-Chapuis (who also stars as the Photographer in the film), and an entertaining introduction by Whedon followed by a an insightful interview of the director.
The film took just 12 days to shoot, but only one with such close knit connections like Whedon can pull off what others in the industry probably couldn’t. The star studded list of thespians includes Amy Acker (Angel) as Beatrice, Alexis Denisof (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as Benedick, Clark Gregg (Avengers) as Leonato, Fran Kranz (Dollhouse) as Claudio, Reed Diamond (dollhouse) as Don Pedro, Sean Maher (Firefly) as Don John, Jillan Morgese (Avengers) as Hero, Nathan Fillion (Firefly) as Dogberry, Tom Lenk (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as Verges, Ashley Johnson (Dollhouse) as Margaret, Riki Lindhome (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as Conrade, and Romy Rosemont (Avengers) as The Sexton. Indeed, it helps to have friends.
The story is set over 400 years after the Shakespearian version of the play was written, yet it is skillfully translated for current day. Aside from some drastic editing cuts (obviously for cinematic time restraints) the text is virtually verbatim to the original. What makes this so intriguing to the dedicated fan of the original play are the subtle yet entertaining modifications required from 400 years of cultural change. For instance, the first scene with Leonato talking to the messenger about the arrival of Don Pedro is updated for today with Leonato talking to his Aid while getting the message about Don Pedro from his iPhone. Yet, the story is as comfortable as it is fun. Whedon has transformed this old style theatre to modern cinema while allowing the audience to enjoy the story without too much of the modern distractions one would expect.
You don’t need the visual impact of the big screen to appreciate the work that has gone into updating the classic play. The book Much Ado About Nothing: A Film by Joss Whedon is a suitable alternative to seeing the film, but it can be a priceless accompaniment as well. Sure you can experience more emotion by watching the performers in action in the theatre, but the book offers so much more. Either way, the audience is the winner.