Wax On, Doyle-San!
Review by Christopher Coleman
Director Kenneth Branagh's most recent attempt to bring Shakespeare to the big screen is AS YOU LIKE IT - one of the Bard's most popular comedies. Unfortunately, Branagh was only partially successful. While the film made it to theaters in the United Kingdom, AS YOU LIKE IT only made it the DVD racks in the United States. And, especially in light of the amount of shrot that does actually make it to screens here, it is doubly shameful that this release was so confined. As Kenneth Branagh does with his film-adaptations of Shakespeare's plays, he puts an interesting spin on the telling. Instead of being set in France, the setting is 19th century Japan. Among other things, this choice had a significant effect on the film's score, which was, once again, written by Branagh's composer of choice, PATRICK DOYLE. AS YOU LIKE IT makes it the seventh collaboration between the director and composer and Patrick Doyle waxes on with his own musical eloquence to match that of The Bard's words, and Branagh's offbeat vision.
Director Branagh's choice to set the film in Japan remains as much as mystery as it is compelling. It was certainly eye-catching to see actor Brian Blessed dawning full samurai armor as well as many other characters in quasi-Japanese garb. The question as to why this setting was preferrable to France was never apparent to me in the context of the film. Whatever Branagh's reasons, that choice of setting did give PATRICK DOYLE opportunity to do something special for the film's score - the inclusion of Japanese instrumentation.