A Midsummer Night's Dream
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It is the turn of the nineteenth century. Betrothedto Demetrius, Hermia is beside herself with worry over the prospect ofadhering to this seemingly ridiculous and cruel arrangement. It comes tolight that she has given her heart to yet another—the strapping and passionateLysander. Even though she appeals to the elders that their love is true,she is told that she must either marry Demetrius or be alone forever. Distraughtover this news, the two lovers flee in order that they might stay together.They make it as far as the woods the first night. But they are not alone.Helena (who is secretly in love with Demetrius) learns of the this couple'splight and decides to "warn" Demetrius that his soon-to-be bride has fledto the woods with Lysander. In turn, Demetrius goes after Hermia to theforest—all the while being followed by Helena who reveals her passionatefeelings towards this heartsick lad. Add to this mix a group of grungyaspiring thespians in search of a private place to practice their play,and a community of fairies who attempt to play cupid on all of the abovecandidates and you are on your way to A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Positive Elements: The rich Shakespearean language adds depthto this intriguingly comical love story of sorts. The costumes and sceneryalso ignite the imagination. Bottom and his gang of aspiring thespiansadd comic relief in several instances—most notably the conclusion of thefilm where they perform a "tragic" play in honor of a nobleman's wedding.In one scene, Hermia practices sexual restraint from her beau Lysander.In response to his rather aggressive and passionate come-on she implores,"For love and courtesy, lie further off." He respects her plea. These twoalso place value in true love over arranged marriages. At one point Bottomseems very concerned over the death scene in the play he and his friendsare going to perform. He fears upsetting the women and therefore concludesthat his cast will warn the audience in a prologue.
Spiritual Content: Mythical fairies play a rather significantrole in the plot. They appear and disappear, ride giant turtles and castspells (primarily love spells) on mortals as well as each other. They havean Eastern flavor when it comes to their costumes and behaviors—althoughnever are they seen worshipping a god or practicing religious customs.Although a little more adult in nature, the fairies are portrayed morelike Tinker Bell than a witch or evil spirit. Also, in an early scene,the life of a nun is cast in a rather bleak light—concluding that isolationand lack of fulfillment are inevitable results of her lifestyle.
Sexual Content: The fairy's outfits are often revealing. Inone scene, they are bathing and their breasts are exposed through sheerfabric. Lysander (also wearing very little), entices Hermia by embracingher breasts from behind as she is falling asleep in the woods. As mentionedabove, Hermia asked him to return to his own sleeping quarters to whichhe respectfully concedes. Later it is implied that she succumbs to hiswiles. The fairy queen encourages Bottom to touch her breast. When he doesso, it is insinuated that he is sexually aroused. Ultimately, the two endup in her cradle (her bed) where they have sex. As the sun is rising, thefour lovers (Demetrius, Helena, Lysander and Hermia) are found by thenobleman and his people—asleep and naked. They are asked to stand up andexplain themselves. The women are able to cover themselves fairly wellwith clothing. However the men fail to cover their behinds. The closingscene scans the bedrooms of three newly married couples as they lay nextto each other in bed.
Violent Content: In a jealous rage Hermia and Helena wrestlearound in the mud, leaving them both unrecognizably dirty. During Bottom's"tragic" play a little dog is flung into the audience.
Crude or Profane Language: Thanks to Shakespeare, this film shiedaway from profanity. Only four uses of a--.
Drug and Alcohol Content: Cigarette smoking occurs occasionally.Social drinking also crops up more than once. Following a successful performance,Bottom and his friends seem to have taken the celebration a bit far—borderingon drunkenness.
Summary: Rich language. Pleasurable scenery. Witty humor. Cleverstory lines. A Midsummer Night's Dream has the potential to inspirehigh school teens attempting to grasp the brilliance and passion behindWilliam Shakespeare's writing. Unfortunately, sexual scenes more than dampenthis otherwise engaging movie.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Christian Bale as Demetrius; Dominic West as Lysander; Anna Friel as Hermia; Calista Flockhart as Helena; Kevin Kline as Bottom; Michelle Pfeiffer as Queen Fairy; Rubert Everett as the King; Stanley Tucci as Puck
Michael Hoffman ( The Best of Me)