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What are the socio-cultural values depicted from Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing...

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gharw1 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 6, 2009 at 1:22 PM via web

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What are the socio-cultural values depicted from Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing directed by Kenneth Branagh?

Please if you have any ideas what i am talking about please write back to me. I am a little confused what socio-cultural values are and i am having trouble. Thankyou

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 6, 2009 at 1:56 PM (Answer #1)

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The term "socio-cultural values" isn't all that much different from the term "values."  When you say "socio-cultural" you're talking about the values held by your society (in your case, Australia) and those held by your culture (which refers more to your own specific circumstances -- what economic class you are, your ethnicity, where you live -- stuff that is more specific to you than all of Australian society).

So what this question is asking you is to look at the film and figure out from that what the values are of the culture Shakespeare and/or Branagh are depicting.

It's been too long since I've seen the film for me to do much good with any specifics.  But I'd start by thinking about what roles are assigned to men and women -- how each sex is supposed to behave.  Then I'd think about how the film portrays marriage.

I hope that does some good...

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 6, 2009 at 10:10 PM (Answer #2)

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Branagh is a Romantic, a director who amps up the volume in all of his movies.  Shortly after making this one, he made Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, perhaps the quintessential Romantic novel of all-time.  Branagh was married to Emma Thompson at this time, so the film is a commentary on their relationship as well.

So, Branagh wants to heighten emotions in Much Ado.  Remember the slow-motion musical montage at the beginning: the men riding their horses, while the naked women bathe?  Slow-motion is something you can do in film that can't do on the stage.  A musical score is another.  Nudity is yet another.  All of these, packaged together, comment on our socio-cultural values of love: they suggest that it is highly personal, emotional, sexy, and melodramatic--less a matter of economics, as it had been at the time of the play's staging.

Also, Don John the Bastard is white and Don Pedro the Prince is black.  How's that for a 180 degree shift in black/white relations?  Much Ado was staged around 1600, the beginning of the slave trade.  Blacks were thought as bestial in their passions, subhuman.  No blacks were allowed on stage; neither were women, for that matter.  So to have an American black actor as the highest ranking member in the film shows how far the English-speaking world has made up for its sins.

Also, I do believe that Keanu Reeves is the worst Shakespearean actor to grace the stage or big screen.  His lip-lazy slurrings are an affront to everyone's socio-cultural values.

 

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