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Film / Much Ado About Nothing (1993)

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Much Ado About Nothing is a 1993 British-American romantic comedy film based on Shakespeare's play of the same name. It was adapted for the screen and directed by Kenneth Branagh, who also heads an All-Star Cast including his then-wife Emma Thompson, Robert Sean Leonard, Denzel Washington, Michael Keaton, Keanu Reeves, Richard Briers, Imelda Staunton, Ben Elton, and Kate Beckinsale in her film debut.

This page is for tropes unique to the 1993 film. For tropes from the original play, see the work page for the play, Much Ado About Nothing.

The film makes much ado about these tropes:

  • Adaptational Context Change: The film subtly alters some of Dogberry's scenes so that he actually seems to somehow take being called an ass as a genuine compliment.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Trimming longer scenes and a bit of reorder as well as removing obsolete words.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": The "secret" conversation between Don Pedro, Claudio and Leonato regarding Beatrice's love for Benedick is filled to the brim with this, with Claudio repeatedly going full melodrama, Leonato making awkward gestures as he talks and Don Pedro becoming something of a Large Ham constantly on the verge of Corpsing. Naturally, Benedick suspects nothing.
  • Bookends: The opening of the film has Beatrice reciting the "hey nonny nonny" lines from the original play. The last scene of the film has the "hey nonny nonny" sung on the soundtrack.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Claudio during the first wedding, both figuratively and literally.
  • Cock-a-Doodle Dawn: A shot of the villa at daybreak and a crowing rooster marks the transition between Hero's fake funeral the previous night and Benedick struggling to write a love poem the next morning.
  • Color Blind Casting: Should a black man (Denzel Washington) be playing a medieval Italian prince? Well, why not? Same logic goes for having Keanu Reeves as his brother.
  • Creator Cameo: Composer Patrick Doyle appears as Balthasar, singing the "hey nonny nonny" song right before the scene where the guys play their trick on Benedick.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: At the masquerade, Benedick seems to appear in the guise of a "Jew", complete with stereotyped mask, and keeps up the pretense with a voice that isn't much of anything beyond a lot of uvular "kh" sounds. Beatrice isn't very impressed with his acting.
  • Dramatic Thunder: A clip of thunder and lightning plays right before the scene where Borachio and Don John make their plan to trick Claudio into thinking Hero is unfaithful.
  • Dynamic Entry: The male riders, collectively raising their fists and shouting in unison over the title of the movie. While spurring their horses.
  • Epic Tracking Shot: The tracking shot at the end of the film doesn't add anything to the plot, but it sure is festive. Lasting a good 2 and a half minutes, the camera zooms between all of the principal characters as they sing and dance, swooping from space to space between characters, even zipping through a couple of tunnels, before finally ending on an aerial shot of the entire villa.
  • Feet-First Introduction: The company arriving by horse is shown by the horse´s feet before the riders appear en face.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: All the good male characters wear uniforms with blue lapels and blue jeans, while the evil male characters have black lapels and black leather pants.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Other than envy towards his half-brother Don Pedro and towards Claudio being in Don Pedro's favor, it seems that Don John may had or have an interest in Hero, Claudio's love interest, possibly adding another reason for Don John's attempts to break apart Claudio and Hero.
  • Happy Dance: In celebration of Beatrice's supposed "love" for him, Benedick splashes around in the fountain.
  • Hollywood Genetics: Keanu Reeves and Denzel Washington as half-brothers. Given both that and the relative quality of their acting, it takes quite the Willing Suspension of Disbelief to go along with the idea.
  • Insult Backfire: Dogberry is called an ass by Conrade. It clearly gets under his skin, but his insistence on it being entered in as evidence — and repeating it to all within earshot — makes him seem more proud of it than anything, and doing so spreads and prolongs the insult much further and longer than it would've normally.
  • Large Ham: Michael Keaton as Dogberry.
    • Also, the film does feature BRIAN BLESSED in a minor role.
    • Kenneth Branagh, especially his hilarious monologue about the benefits of marriage, ending with this line:
    • Keanu Reeves practically gnashes his teeth as the "plain-dealing" villain. He even gets a cackling getaway once his plan comes to fruition.
    • Claudio's callout of Hero at the first wedding. It has to be seen to be believed.
  • Limited Wardrobe: All the main male characters wear that same white shirt and dark pants combo. All the women wear the same simple white dress.
  • Monochrome Casting: Averted with the casting of Denzel Washington and Keanu Reeves.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Don John is shown oiled up and shirtless, a nice shot for the ladies.
  • Nobody Here but Us Birds: Benedick eavesdropping on Leonato, Pedro, and Claudio's chat. (It doesn't fool them for a second; but then again, they're deliberately staging the conversation for him to hear.)
  • Obviously Evil: Don John, from the beginning, is scowling like he wants to murder everyone. In the first scene the mood of giggling and laughter is brought to a screeching halt when everyone sees his scowl. Iago, he is not.
  • Oh, Crap!: During the wedding disaster, while Don Pedro is hotly describing what he, Don John and Claudio witnessed at Hero's chamber window, Margaret has an expression of horrified realization that she was set up to look like Hero in flagrante at the window.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: With most of the main cast being British and using their own accents, both Keanu Reeves and Michael Keaton make attempts to hide their natural accents, Reeves by going for a standard RP British accent and Keaton by going for some kind of Irish/Cornish hybrid. Neither are all that successful at it. By contrast, Denzel Washington and Robert Sean Leonard use their own American accents throughout.
  • "Pan Up to the Sky" Ending: The Epic Tracking Shot that closes the film ends with a pan up to the sky showing the hills going off into the distance, before the fade to black.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: It's pretty damn obvious in the movie that the person behind the veil is Hero. Claudio still doesn't notice.
    • This is, however, actually explained in the script. Leonato has arranged for Claudio to marry his brother's daughter (who doesn't exist), and he describes her as being "almost a copy" of Hero. So Claudio is naturally expecting a strong resemblance.
  • People Fall Off Chairs: Benedick's reaction to hearing that Beatrice is in love with him.
  • Shout-Out: The entrance of Dogberry, doing the "coconut horse" a la Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
  • Shower Scene: The opening credits, which doubles as Ho Yay and/or Les Yay.
  • Swing Low, Sweet Harriet: Beatrice is swinging in a swing with a smile on her face in the montage where Benedict and Beatrice realize they are in love with each other.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Where Beatrice stuffs the love note that she is presented at the end of the film as proof of her love for Benedick.
  • Walk and Talk: Don John is perpetually on the move, forcing Borachio to hurry behind him while talking. They are walking around the wine cellars for some reason in the scene where Borachio explains his plan to make Claudio think Hero is unfaithful.


Video Example(s):


Much Ado- Benedick's Soliloquy

Benedick realizes he's in love with Beatrice when he's tricked into thinking she's in love with him.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / LoveRevelationEpiphany

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