With Erica’s finals finally done, Erica and I cuddled up to a night of Netflix last Wednesday. Hot cocoa in hand, we perused hundreds of options looking for a movie to satisfy our appetite. We settled on a very funny independent comedy which was full of wit, satire, drama, and of course debauchery. The movie I am speaking of is Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Joss Whedon, written by Bill Shakespeare.
Joss Whedon, if you don’t all ready know, is known for his work on The Avengers films as well as some other popular television series (here is a link to his wikipedia page, I’d just be rehashing the same material). Back in 2011, while he was taking a short vacation from post-production of The Avengers, Whedon and a few friends (aka some prominent actors) filmed Much Ado About Nothing in the span of 12 days at his Santa Monica residence.
Whedon kept his entire project a secret, which was originally conceived a few years prior during “Shakespeare readings” at his home.
This was the first time, since reading the play in high school, that I’ve seen the film and I realized something very important – I have really grown up. Yes I am married and yes I’m going to be a dad in the very near future, but this movie provided an excellent benchmark to evaluate how far I’ve grown since my high school days. Let me take you back 7 or 8 years ago…
Growing up I hated English class. Ironically enough, I hated writing. And most of all, I hated anything Shakespeare. During my senior year of high school, I had an English teacher I despised. In retrospect, I feel bad for my attitude I demonstrated in that class. I held no interest in anything Shakespeare and feigned suffering anytime we had to do a class reading of one of Shakespeare’s plays or God forbid “discuss” what we thought about it. To me, Shakespeare was a 400 year old dead white guy that related to me in absolutely no way.
But now, 8 years later, I found myself cracking up at all the witty jokes and entirely entertained by the film. I couldn’t even believe that this was the same Shakespeare I learned about in high school that I actually had to look it up online. The film was modernized in a very unique way. Whedon made only a few stylistic changes (aka clothing, location, technology), but other than that, word for word, it was all the pen of Shakespeare.
To provide a brief example, here is a short clip that I found to be absolutely brilliant. Since this story is nearly 400 years old, I do believe calling out spoilers is irrelevant by now. Here we find Don John’s followers Borachio and Conrade being interrogated after setting up Don Pedro (the prince) into believing he witnessed Hero “talking to a man” prior to their wedding day. Nathon Fillion, who plays the bumbling constable Dogberry, attempts the good-cop-bad-cop with his partner Verges.
I’m sure the visual component helped sell the humor, but there must have been something else that helped to break down my preconceived notions that Shakespeare is not funny. This is the point that I am finally arriving to: I think it’s important to benchmark yourself every once and awhile to see how much you have matured (or haven’t). I wanted to provide you a similar “guide” on how to perform once of these analysis:
- Revisit something from your past that you thought you hated (movie, book, food)
- Watch/read/taste/participate in said activity with an open mind
- Observe your “new” reactions to the experience and compare them to how you remembered them
- Ask yourself what has changed in your life that might have altered your taste
I’ve completed steps 1-3 and have been thinking a lot about step 4. Personally, a lot has changed in my life since high school. I’ve had the great fortune of experiencing many great things – going to college, falling in love with Erica, re-converting to Catholicism, etc. Overall, I’ve grown soft, but not soft in a negative way. No, I’ve learned to appreciate beauty more instead of automatically hardening my heart.
Another brief example is how before I met Erica, I hated the ballet. But once she open me up to the art and it’s beauty and form, I absolutely love going to the ballet (and want my kids to learn ballet someday). I believe that is an important change in my life that I haven’t really noticed it until now. So if you have a moment, give this self-experiment a try and see how much you have changed. Share your results in the comments below!
Oh! And, if by the off chance my 12th grade English teacher is reading this, I sincerely apologize for my attitude and lack of respect I demonstrated towards your class. Heck, to all English teachers across the world I say to thee, never stop teaching these kids Shakespeare, because one day, as I can attest, they will learn to appreciate his work.
This has nothing to do with the post but Erica and I both noticed that a lot of the lyrics from Mumford and Sons’ Sigh No More came from Much Ado About Nothing. “Serve, God, love me and mend,” “Live unbruised, we are friends,” “One foot in sea, one on shore,” “Man is a giddy thing.” Says Marcus Mumford, “You can rip off Shakespeare all you like; no lawyer’s going to call you up on that one.”