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A Midsummer Night's Dream is a 1999 film adaptation of William Shakespeare's play of the same title. The film sets the play in the fictional Monte Athena in the late nineteenth century. The film features an ensemble cast that includes Rupert Everett, Calista Flockhart, Kevin Kline, Stanley Tucci and Michelle Pfeiffer.



The film was released in the midst of the short-lived Shakespeare-on-film revival initiated by the success of Kenneth Branagh's Henry V. Director Michael Hoffman reset the play in Italy in the mid-nineteenth century, and several of the characters were seen riding bicycles. There was also a rather notorious mud wrestling scene between Anna Friel (as Hermia) and Calista Flockhart (as Helena). Actor Kevin Kline was cast as a more handsome Nick Bottom than is usual, and was even given a wife (she, however, has no speaking lines and only appears in two scenes). Along with veteran Shakespeare actors, director Michael Hoffman also cast Calista Flockhart, Michelle Pfeiffer, David Strathairn, Sophie Marceau and Stanley Tucci in major roles.

The film used portions of Felix Mendelssohn's incidental music to the 1843 stage production of the play, along with generous helpings of music from Italian opera.

Although the film was reset in Italy, every mention of Athens, Greecemarker (the play's original setting) was still retained.

In contrast to the earlier 1935 film version, Helena was given more screen time in the film than Hermia.

Critical reception

The film received mixed reviews when released theatrically, but far more positive ones when the DVD was issued. The greatest praise went to the performances of Kevin Kline, Rupert Everett, Calista Flockhart, and Stanley Tucci, while the performances most panned were those of David Strathairn and Sophie Marceau.

DVD Editions

The DVD has been released twice in the United States. The second release, issued in 2008 and touted as a "Special Edition", was released with a Cliff's Notes booklet offering an analysis of the play and its characters. Both of the U.S. DVD releases, however, have been issued in a letterboxed transfer that is not enhanced for widescreen television sets. The Australian DVD release, on the other hand, is anamorphically enhanced.



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