When Dreams Come True: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Love makes fools of us all.

What do we mean by a fool in love? If we love someone or someone loves us recklessly, without using our common sense? When we see only advantages and do not believe in disadvantages of our object of love? When that relationship seems like the result of witchcraft or love potion? Like a veil of love around us? A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare is a story about a love-dream, when feelings come to life regardless of ourselves, awakened by magic. And the 1999 romantic fantasy film by director Michael Hoffman is an attempt to visually convey the story of love and dreams on screen.

Get to the Bottom of Love

Hoffman brought the play to the 19th century and includes bicycles as an important detail in the film. If you are unfamiliar with the plot, four young lovers, Lysander (Dominic West) and Hermia (Anna Friel), and Helena (Calista Flockhart) and Demetrius (Christian Bale) stumble into the forest and wander into the fairy kingdom, ruled by Titania (Michelle Pfeiffer), and Oberon (Rupert Everett). The mischievous sprite Puck (Stanley Tucci) and Oberon cause mayhem among them with a magic potion. Puck also enchants a member of a local acting troupe, Nick Bottom (Kevin Kline) with the head of an ass. He catches the eye of the bewitched Titania, and she falls in love with him. Titania woos Bottom in her bower, attended by fairies. Though bewitched, both are sincerely happy in their ignorance of being so. Soon Oberon becomes jealous. He deals with the confused couples in love in the forest, and reconciles with his queen, Titania.

Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind; and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.

What makes Michael Hoffman’s film a wonderful screen adaptation of Shakespeare? He made it in the best traditions of 90s romantic comedy. Love adventures, beautiful landscapes, fascinating characters, wonderful Hollywood actors, beautiful costumes, and hilarity all this helps Hoffman’s film to stay in a memory for a long time and become an example of the romantic comedy fantasy for all time. These famous actors act out a truly magical play to the enchanting music of Puccini and Verdi … Love, as you know, is blind … But for two couples in love who cannot do the right thing choice, there is always a drop of love elixir that can resolve any love drama.

A Midsummer, according to popular belief, is the time when the forest spirits meet with the human world. Do you remember the bicycles I mentioned earlier? This mortal invention refuses to work in the enchanted forest, where conventional logic does not work. In this world, a beautiful elfin queen and mistress of the enchanted forest can fall in love with a poor artist, even in the guise of a donkey. “It was not without a magic potion,” say you and you will be right. But remember, love itself is similar to witchcraft. If you watch the film, pay attention to the final shot. Bottom feels inclined to look out the window, as if feeling the invisible presence of his fabulous beloved … They say the truth … Love makes us all fools … especially in a dream … on a summer night

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marianna Kaplun was born in Moscow. She is candidate of philological sciences specializing in the first Russian drama and theatre of XVIIth century. She’s also a film and TV critic by calling. You can find her essays on her Lumiere page and on her blog.

3 thoughts on “When Dreams Come True: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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  1. Excellent job. I’ve only ever seen this once and it’s been a long time. But I remember loving the cast and it is so prettily filmed. It’s always intriguing to see how different eras adapt Shakespeare. I love the 1935 version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and it couldn’t be more different, but both adaptations add so beautifully to the Shakespeare canon because they’re unique from one another.

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