Michael Hoffman’s Adaption of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
Michael Hoffman’s 1999 adaptation of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream received more acclaim then most adaptations previous to it. The well-known cast of actors, as well as the incredible visual effects used are the two most likely reasons for the film’s appeal to the masses. Even though the film’s casting and special effects brought people into the theaters to see the film, it isn’t what kept them there. Instead, fans and critics alike would have to agree that Hoffman’s adaptation was not only cleverly directed, but accurate to Mr. Shakespeare’s intentions in the original text. It is clear that Hoffman has done his homework.
Hoffman seems to concern himself and this production with two major themes. The ideas of universal power of love and universal power of art are easily conveyed to the audience, conveniently enough, by one character. In the text, Bottom appears to us as a boisterous man dedicated to a passion of theater that will never be a realization; whose move through the social ranks is only because of a spell cast on the goddess. In Hoffman’s adaptation, Bottom becomes the focal point, or rather our hero.
First of all, Hoffman cast veteran actor Kevin Kline in the role, a far stretch from what bottom is normally cast as. Bottom, as well as the other rude mechanicals, are normally character actors. They are commoners trying their hand at performing arts. Naturally, comic characters are cast with comic actors. Hoffman uses Klein’s impeccable use of the language and his renowned acting ability to make us see Bottom as a hero, the heart and soul of Shakespeare’s writing.
The first time we meet the mechanical…
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…, he notices what look a little like fire flies outside. One of them however is bigger and brighter then the rest. It hovers in the air as if looking at him while the others dance around it. After about five seconds, the whole menagerie flies away. We are to assume this is Titania bidding him fair well.
When we look at any performance, weather on stage or in film, that is based on Shakespeare’s text, we have got to count on visual aides to help us understand what is being said. The language is beautiful, though difficult to understand. Hoffman works with Shakespeare as if the man wee still alive and Collaborating with him on the project. As Franco Zeffirelli’s 1967 adaptation of Romeo and Juliet was a triumph in making movies out of Shakespeare, Hoffman’s version of A Midsummer Nights Dream took us even a step further to embracing the words of the master.