A Midwinter’s Tale (In The Bleak Midwinter) (1995)

KENNETH BRANAGH

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.  , Midwinter Films.  United Kingdom, 1995.  Screenplay by Kenneth Branagh.  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Toronto International Film Festival 1995.  

Richard Briers and John Sessions in A Midwinter’s Tale.

Hilarious comedy from Kenneth Branagh about a group of renegade, out of work actors who put on a performance of Hamlet in a broken-down church in the town of Hope, a ramshackle little English hamlet that defies its own name. Having everything against them (one week to prepare, actors who don’t get along, a designer who won’t come up with a concept, a local audience that won’t necessarily go for a four hundred year-old play about murderous monarchs at Christmastime, an American movie producer who wants to steal the lead actor away to star in a new science-fiction trilogy), the group somehow manages to band together in a Mickey and Judy kinda way and put on a great show. Branagh’s crisp black-and-white photography is beautiful, and the clips we see of the actors performing Hamlet are actually a sight better than Branagh’s own four-hour film adaptation of the play one year later. Jennifer Saunders appears in a hilarious cameo.

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