Thursday, May 24, 2012

Kenneth Branagh

Long have I tried to write this entry.
Many times did I start.
Many times did I leave my words behind, because nothing could ever do him justice.
So how come I manage now?
I don't know. But I do know that I have adored this man since I was a teenager.
Why, do you think that is?
I think an answer has to be;
Because he understands I would like to think that I understand Shakespeare.

I have felt that the stories from old have relevance today, both as literature and as plays, so when he reinvents the plays time and again I'm left in total and deep admiration. He is one of those rare magicians. One of those embodying qualities from all the muses. And when he then went and made a brilliant film of my favorite Norse God, then I became at a loss for words. Only a few people on this planet will have that effect on me. Kenneth Branagh is one of them. That is why this entry is such a hard one to write, because where to start?
I think I'm going to give a small selection of my favorite films from all the ones he's made.

I'll start with Henry V.
This is one of the historic plays of Shakespeare. It is fashioned like a tragedy, but with the wedding in the end it isn't... This was Branagh's first big motion picture both acting and directing, and I think he did a marvelous job!
The story is beautiful and powerful, and I absolutely loved it...

Then comes the film where I really understood his talent.
Much Ado About Nothing.
The film is so elegantly executed and so brilliantly both in terms of acting and direction that I fell completely in love with Ken, Ken, Prince among men...
And the tension between Beatrice and Benedict (Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh) is timeless. Also the atmosphere of the film has a certain timeless feel to it.

I saw Frankenstein when it came back in 19...mmmpluh, and I really enjoyed it. But it was when I read the book on University and watched the film again I truly saw the film for the strike of genius it is. He's taken the essence of the novel and turned it into the best filmed version of the gothic story...
SPOILER...The only thing I didn't like about the film is that Frankenstein didn't make the bride, he refused to do this. And in the film Helena Bohnam Carter is was changed into The Monster's bride.

Along comes the film of my favorite Shakespearean play, Othello. I have never before seen a more sinister Iago or a better Othello... Come on, it's Morpheus and Frankenstein :)

Then comes this pearl of movies in As You Like It.
He really is a Shakespeare authority, and when moving the woods of Arden to Japan he struck genius I think. He's not acting in this, which is sad, because I value his talents as an actor to a great extent. He really is a multi talent. But the movie is brilliant, and the story is beautiful. Plus, a movie with Kevin Kline is never wrong.

He has also made a movie of my favorite opera, The Magic Flute by Mozart.
And I think it's a real treat that the singer playing Papagena is Norwegian...and she's also a very talented singer. This film has the Kenneth Branagh magic along with the magic of the most talented composer of all times.

And Kenneth Branagh as Guilderoy Lockheart was brilliant. When he came on screen, I felt that this part was written for him, and Kenneth Branagh proved to me that he is a magician ;)

But his true high point, at least by my standard, was when he directed Thor.
I have enjoyed the stories about the norse gods almost just as much as I have enjoyed (and enjoys still) Tolkien and fantasy as such. So when I went to see the film version of the Marvel story, I had rather high hopes and knew a bit more about the back ground than the average joe... Though, as my brother kindly pointed out, the Marvel stories and the mythological accuracy are two very different things, and must not be confused...
However, Kenneth Branagh managed to fuse the two wonderfully, and he made Valhalla even more magnificent than I had imagined. And the world tree was so breathtakingly beautiful that I cried. And of course that's how it is, if it's there...
And though I know that Loki really is the true son of Odin (only his mother is a jotun), and though I know that Thor really is married to Sif, I couldn't care less. Kenneth Branagh should make more superhero movies... He has the touch of the masters of old :)

I think Kenneth Branagh is one of the great men and great actors on this planet placed here to inspire and comfort. In my mind he's part of a precious group of people who are simply extraordinary.

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