The action in A Midsummer-Night’s Dream takes place in mythical Athens. Theseus, the reigning Duke, has conquered the Amazons and has fallen in love with their beautiful queen, Hippolyta. As the play opens, he tells us that their wedding is to take place in five days. At this point, Egeus, a wealthy Athenian, brings his daughter Hermia before the Duke. Having fallen in love with Lysander, a young man of whom her father disapproves, Hermia has refused to marry Demetrius, who is her fathers choice. Demetrius had been in love with Hermia’s friend, Helena, but had abandoned her for Hermia. The Duke tells Hermia that according to Athenian law, she must marry Demetrius or die. The other alternative is a life of chastity as a virgin priestess. She has until the Duke’s wedding day to decide.
After the other leave, Hermia and Lysander determine to meet in a wood near the city the following night. Then they plant to leave the city and go tot a place outside of Athenian jurisdiction where they can be married. Helena promises to help the lovers, and they leave. When Demetrius returns, Helena, who is hopelessly in love with him, tries to win his favor by telling him of Hermia’s plan to elope. She is bitterly disappointed when Demetrius hurries away to stop the elopement, but she follows him.
In another part of Athens a group of common men, led by Peter Quince, are preparing a play to be given at the wedding feast of Theseus and Hippolyta. The star of the group, Nick Bottom, struts and boasts of his ability to play any and all the parts and is finally cast as the hero. All the parts are assigned and the rehearsal is set to take place the next night in the wood outside of Athens- the same wood where Hermia and Lysander are to meet.
The night in question is Midsummer’s Eve, a time of great rejoicing and mischief among the fairies who live in the wood. Oberon, their king, and Titania, their Queen, have quarreled over possession of a little boy, the child of one of Titania’s priestesses. To resolve the quarrel, humble his proud Queen, and gain the boy for his own group of followers, Oberon enlists the aid of Puck. This clever and mischievous fairy delights in playing tricks on mortals and is a faithful servant of Oberon.
By putting the nectar of a magic flower on the eyes of the sleeping Lysander, Puck causes him to fall in love with Helena and forsake Hermia. Into this confusion come Bottom and his amateur acting troupe. Puck turns Bottom’s head into the head of a donkey, frightening off all his friends and leaving the weaver alone. He comes upon Titania, the Queen of the Fairies, and awakens her from her sleep. Her eyes, like those of Lysander, have been anointed with the magic nectar, and she falls in love with the first creature she sees. Her new love is, of course, Bottom- with his donkey’s head.
After playing tricks on Titania, Bottom, and the two pairs of lovers, Oberon relents and has Puck set things right again. Lysander and Hermia are reunited, and Demetruius, with the aid of the magic juice, rediscovers his love for Helena. Titania and Bottom are released from their enchantments, and she agrees to give Oberon the little boy to Oberon.
The lovers come upon the Duke and his party hunting in the woods that morning. After hearing their stories, he proclaims that the six of them will get married on the same day. Bottom awakens, is confused, but returns to Athens and prepares to give their play at the Duke’s wedding.
After the triple wedding, the play, Pyramus and Thisby, is presented as part of the entertainment. It is performed so earnestly and so badly that the assembled guests are weak from laughter. After the performance, the newlyweds adjourn to bed, and the fairies appear to confer a final blessing on the happy couples.
I thought this movie had such a cute story line, it was romantic and comical at the same time. It fit all the cravings I had for a movie, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone. It was kind of far fetched with all the fairies and lymph’s, and was very hard to follow at times. It jumped from focusing on the Duke and his troubles with his daughter to Bottom planning his play. Then from there I was confused by the plot conflict between Oberon and Titania.
There was so many characters introduced in such a short amount of time, I had to watch it twice to understand what was going on with who. If you don’t understand all the different connections by all the characters, the rest of the movie is really hard to follow, since it all builds on each other. And the fact it was acted in Shakespeare’s language, it was hard to even understand what the characters were saying. The story line had a few far-fetched ides to it, like when Bottom turned into a Donkey, or how the magic nectar of the flower would make people randomly fall in love. Yet, I think this is why I like the story so much. It made me think and use my imagination, something that few movies these days allow us to do. It was a sophisticated fairy tale that was completely enjoyable, I thought.
I think that Michael Hoffman picked a perfect cast. Michelle Pfeiffer, who played Titania, is one of my favorite actors, and I was so excited to find out that she was in this movie. She played her part as the Queen of fairies very well, she just has that element of extravagance to her that made her shine as Titania. Also, I thought Calista Flockhart did a great job playing Helena. I’m not a big fan of her on Ally McBeal but she had an excellent performance here I think. Maybe it was something about her hair or her face, but she played the part, of a girl crazy in love, very well. The whole movie had such a fairytale-like glow to it. All the stage props and costumes fit together so well, it was just like a dream.
In Michael Dequina’s review of the movie, also thought that it was very well cast. He thought that Calista Flockhart did a very good job playing the part of Helena, and I agree with him there. Although, he said, This entire second act was filmed on a soundstage, and it shows: the backdrops are flat; the same tree sets are recycled over and over again; andâ€”most distracting of allâ€”it’s ridiculously overlit it may be midsummer, but it still is night. A certain level of unreality should be brought to this sectionâ€”we are dealing with fairies and man-asses hereâ€”but it’s one thing to be unreal as in fantasy and entirely another to appear artificial as in synthetic. I have to disagree here because first of all, I didn’t even notice that Hoffman re-used backdrops, and I would be surprised if anyone else did either, there was so many other things I would rather pay attention to. Its a forest anyway, we shouldn’t get picky if some of the trees look similar to each other. I do agree that the whole night scene was a little too overlit though. It was supposed to be the middle of the night, yet I forgot that at times because of the lighting. I really do think that these two faults are justified though.
I think Hoffman wanted to give the whole movie a dreamy atmosphere. We all know that strange things like reoccurring trees where you would least expect them, and mystical light in the middle of the night, are both things that occur during dreams. So the fact that he put them in the movie adds to the dream effect. Other than that Dequina was very positive towards the movie, and in those attempts of praise, I agree with him.
Shakespeare must have been a genius to come up with so many different plays in his lifetime. Yet, there are some parallels between his A Midsummer-Night’s Dream and Hamlet. They both contain a sort of unbelievable, yet crucial element in them. In Hamlet, Shakespeare added the part of the dead ghost to the story line, but without him there really would be no story. It is hard for us to picture dead Hamlet as a ghost, haunting, in some ways, his son. In A Midsummer-Night’s Dream, Shakespeare again was testing our imaginations. He presented us with the mythical characters that fell in love because they had magic nectar sprinkled on their eyes.
In both books, Shakespeare forces us to go beyond the everyday understandings and search deep into our minds to picture such a story. Both books also have characters that add friction to the overall story, but can’t be seen by everyone. In Hamlet, the ghost was only visible to Hamlet and a few of his closest friends, just as Puck was only visible to other fairies. The ghost brought news to his son that eventually cost Hamlet his life. It was that news that made him crazy and put a damper on the last few months of his life.
In A Midsummer-Night’s Dream, Puck put the magic nectar on Lysander’s eyes making him fall in love with Helena. This caused great controversy because he was supposed to marry Hermia. The mischief of Puck resulted in utter perplexity and confusion, just like the ghost brought to Hamlet’s life. Both plays show the complication of love and how disorderly it can make things. Hamlet was in love with Ophelia, but because he had the sense that he couldn’t trust her anymore, they no longer were and item. This resulted in Ophelia’s madness, and later, her death. Hamlet was just as mad as she was because he missed her and the simplicity he used to know in his life before they broke up.
The complete madness that broke out between Lysander, Hermia, Demetrius, and Helena, proves how love only messes everything up. Lysander and Hermia were in love, but because of the magic nectar, Lysandar and Demetrius both fell in love with Helena, leaving Hermia with no one. This was the biggest controversy in the whole play, and again it was because of the complication of love. There are many parallels between these two plays written by Shakespeare.
In conclusion, I think that this was an excellent movie that I wouldn’t mind seeing again. Its plot was fun to get into because it was a cute, dream-like fairytale that I fully enjoyed. The story line and casting was very well done by Michael Hoffman. Shakespeare provided many parallels between this play and Hamlet. The movie A Midsummer-Night’s Dream was extremely well acted out , and had an entertaining plot that kept its viewers intrigued.