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More on Love's Labour's Lost

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Just discovered that I never got around to watching the bonus features on the Love's Labour's Lost DVD and so never returned it to NetFlix. So I'm rewatching the closing sequence, and finding that I still like it more than the rest of the movie.

This entry contains spoilers; if you don't want to know about the ending of the play and the movie, stop reading here.

In the closing sequence, there's suddenly a lot more depth (imo) than in the earlier parts; suddenly the things that seemed like goofy fun earlier are taken seriously, and start to have consequences.

And there are a bunch of good lines. I would have liked the rest of the movie better if I had seen more evidence in the earlier parts of the movie for the things they talk about here at the end. In particular, I really like that the women tell the men they won't believe anything the men swear to, because the men have just broken their own vows; if I had really felt the men were serious about the original vows, that would mean more to me. And my favorite part is probably the bit where Rosaline tells Berowne he's too much of a clown, only I hadn't really seen him being a clown earlier. Still, I like this a lot:

ROSALINE: Oft have I heard of you, my Lord Berowne,

Before I saw you; and the world's large tongue

Proclaims you for a man replete with mocks,

Full of comparisons and wounding flouts,

Which you on all estates will execute

That lie within the mercy of your wit.

To weed this wormwood from your fruitful brain,

And therewithal to win me, if you please,

Without the which I am not to be won,

You shall this twelvemonth term from day to day

Visit the speechless sick and still converse

With groaning wretches; and your task shall be,

With all the fierce endeavor of your wit

To enforce the pained impotent to smile.

BEROWNE: To move wild laughter in the throat of death?

It cannot be; it is impossible:

Mirth cannot move a soul in agony.

ROSALINE: Why, that's the way to choke a gibing spirit,

Whose influence is begot of that loose grace

Which shallow laughing hearers give to fools:

A jest's prosperity lies in the ear

Of him that hears it, never in the tongue

Of him that makes it: then, if sickly ears,

Deaf'd with the clamours of their own dear groans,

Will hear your idle scorns, continue then,

And I will have you and that fault withal;

But if they will not, throw away that spirit,

And I shall find you empty of that fault,

Right joyful of your reformation.

Which, now that I look at it closely, doesn't say what I thought it said. I thought she was saying "turn your fault into an asset by cheering up sick people"; looks like she's actually saying "if you spend a lot of time with sick people and you can't make them laugh, then you'll be cured of your jesting, which will be a good thing." Still, I like that she allows (whether or not she thinks it's really possible) for the possibility that the sick people will be cheered by his clowning.

And there's something I really like about the phrasing or sound of Katharine's line "Come when the king doth to my lady come," though I can't articulate why.

And I like this bit too:

BEROWNE: Our wooing doth not end like an old play;

Jack hath not Jill: these ladies' courtesy

Might well have made our sport a comedy.

FERDINAND: Come, sir, it wants a twelvemonth and a day,

And then 'twill end.

BEROWNE: That's too long for a play.

I also really like the ensemble's melancholy rendition of "They Can't Take That Away from Me" at the end. (Wow—there are at least 150 different recordings of that song at the iTunes Music Store. But not the one from this movie.) And the newsreel sequence that closes the movie. Nicely done.

A couple other notes:

After seeing him in Scream, I had a hard time taking Matthew Lillard seriously as Longaville. (He's nicely gawky and has the potential for great physical comedy; I just couldn't entirely separate him from that previous role.)

Speaking of Lillard, I liked this juxtaposition in the making-of featurette:

Branagh: We've very much gone for actors who can sing, rather than singers who can act. And hope that therefore the singing is invested with something unique and original, by virtue of the fact that they've got these characters in their system—

[Camera cuts to Lillard, apparently filmed separately.]

Lillard: It was a little daunting, I mean it's so overwhelming, and on top of it to realize that you can't sing. . . . And at some point [he] was gonna ask you "Can you sing?", and you [were] just gonna have to say, "No!"

I think my favorite surreal moment in the movie was Berowne saying "By the Lord, this love is as mad as / Ajax" and then looking out the window to see a sheep suddenly topple onto its side with a loud thud, and adding, "it kills sheep." (IV.3.6-7) (And I like the subsequent bit with Adrian Lester as Dumaine dancing around the library doing the step-on-chairs-to-tilt-them-over thing.)

Other songs I like from this: "Let's Face the Music and Dance"; "Cheek to Cheek"; various others. I might even consider buying the soundtrack album, though I suspect there are other versions of these songs I would like better.

A few more lines I liked from the making-of piece:

Branagh: We were bonded in a sort of barely-masked terror. . . .

Branagh: It was more exhausting than I had imagined, but I'm glad I hadn't imagined how exhausting it would be; otherwise I wouldn't have done it.

Branagh [about the first musical number]: . . . but it looked as though we were just doing what four guys do—you know, maybe some people would go and have a drink; our four boys like to burst into song and dance.

1 Comment

Hey, now that your comments work, I can mention how totally dreamy I thought Adrian Lester was in LLL.
I think I may have given away our VHS copy. Possibly to you? We may still have it, though; our videos are all still in boxes, and now we are in the Netflix cult they may stay in boxes.
Thanks,
-V.


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