So.... since I seem to be in some kind of "I WANT THINGS WITH PRETTY COSTUMES" phase, film-wise.... with possibly more of a tendency towards Asian-inflected, I was looking through the library to try to find films to watch over break. And, being also fond of Shakespeare, I thought, "Hey, here is the Brannagh "As You Like It," and the posters for that looked very pretty, and, well, heck, Shakespearean comedy set in 19th century Japan could be all kinds of interesting!"
I mean, I was having images of fantastic outfits, and, well, if the heroine is in disguise as a boy, that could totally work with a hakama and gi, right?
.... yeah, they didn't do that. Never mind that the woods of England were attempting (badly!) to be Random Japanese Forest (with every springtime flower ever EXCEPT CHERRY TREES PLEASE EXPLAIN THIS); never mind that instead of actually making this Japanese Shakespeare (which has been done, and very well), Brannagh decided to just... kind of sort of have it be "In 19th century Japan, lots of English folks were there, doing trade-related... stuff... and... things?" and then completely dropped anything that could be relevant to that. Seriously; the whole plot is about a Virtuous Duke whose Evil Brother kicks him out, but keeps his daughter around to be a companion to her cousin-- that could have been tied into the Bakumatsu in some interesting way! Especially since the opening scene is a performance of the traditional Japanese "I will beat you to death with this wisteria branch" dance, interrupted by the Evil Brother's force of vicious attack ninja who sneak up on the house in all sorts of ninja-y ways (via the pond... via the roof... crashing through the shoji screens...)
And then the Virtuous Duke's Virtuous Daughter, Rosalind, is so beloved of the people that the evil uncle exiles her... and her cousin goes with her-- the Virtuous Duke, meanwhile, having set himself up in a forest (seriously; he and his guys are just out there... in a forest... hanging out... doing Tai Chi....). Rosalind disguises herself as a boy, while Celia (the cousin) stays dressed as a girl. This seems to have been mostly because then Rosalind (as "Ganymede") can run into Orlando, the guy she's fallen in love with, and do all sorts of Shakespearean comedy-type, "I am absolutely a boy and not the woman you've fallen in love with, but pretend I'm her and I'll give you instructions about how to court the woman you love.... who is not me, since I am totally a boy" scenes, while Celia hasn't met the boy for her yet (who is, of course, Orlando's brother), and so she has to still be dressed as a girl so that the two of them can fall in love at first sight and not have any confusion about gender (even though logically it would be safer for her to also be disguised, wouldn't it?).
Right. Anyway. Lots of Shakespearean plot twists and comedy and people falling in love with each other all over the astonishingly well-kempt forest, with occasional sheep.
Me: But... but.. WHY ARE THEY NOT WEARING MORE INTERESTING CLOTHES?
Seriously; there were some vague gestures at "Oh, right, we are in Japan" in terms of wardrobe, and the grand finale wedding scene kind of had kimono (see below-- and ponder why they would put a red-head in that color....), but... seriously; there was so much that could have been done with this and completely was not. For example, rather than just saying, "We will set this in Japan!" and then doing absolutely nothing with the concept other than some fabric choices, a lone bonsai tree, and the inevitable requisite ninja.
*sigh* Seriously; I could write RK/Shakespeare crossover fanfic and have it work better than this.*
*of course, you'd end up with some unholy combination of multiple plays and some truly warped soliloquies.....