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Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night

4.6 18
Director: Trevor Nunn

Cast: Helena Bonham Carter, Imogen Stubbs, Nigel Hawthorne

The classic Shakespearean comedy about mistaken identity and gender confusion is brought to the screen once again in this British production, courtesy of screenwriter-director Trevor Nunn. Nunn has transferred the time period to the Victorian Era of the late 19th century. Two twins, Viola (Imogen Stubbs) and Sebastian (Steven MacKintosh), are separated when their ship


The classic Shakespearean comedy about mistaken identity and gender confusion is brought to the screen once again in this British production, courtesy of screenwriter-director Trevor Nunn. Nunn has transferred the time period to the Victorian Era of the late 19th century. Two twins, Viola (Imogen Stubbs) and Sebastian (Steven MacKintosh), are separated when their ship capsizes. Each believes that the other has drowned. Viola washes ashore on the coast of Illyria. She disguises herself as a man and assumes the name Cesario so that she can take a position as an aide to the Duke, Orsinio (Toby Stephens). Orsinio desires Olivia (Helena Bonham Carter), who refuses his attentions. He also flirts with Maria (Imelda Staunton), Olivia's maid. Orsinio sends Cesario as an emissary to Olivia. The foppish Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Richard E. Grant) also seeks Olivia's love. He is a friend of her besotted uncle, Sir Toby Belch (Mel Smith). With the clownish philosopher Feste (Ben Kingsley), all these members of Olivia's household plot to embarrass the dour Malvolio (Nigel Hawthorne), a butler who has no tolerance for frivolity. They fool Malvolio into thinking that Olivia desires him, and when he confesses his love, Olivia orders him imprisoned as a madman. Sebastian then turns up and is mistaken for Cesario. A series of mishaps follows. ~ Michael Betzold

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
This clever Shakespeare adaptation, an over-the-top romantic comedy animated by gender confusion (a plot device that was already timeworn in the Bard’s day), updates the original play by setting its action in the 18th century. When a violent storm capsizes the ship on which she is a passenger, Viola (Imogen Stubbs) winds up on shore in an unfamiliar kingdom and, to avoid being victimized, cuts her hair and dresses in the clothes of the twin brother she believes lost at sea. Posing as a boy, she becomes a page for, and falls in love with, handsome Count Orsino (Toby Stephens), who is in turn crazy about the lady Olivia (Helena Bonham Carter). For her part, Olivia, believing Viola a boy, develops feelings for the young page rather than the desperate suitor. This puts the castaway is a tough spot; Viola dares not let either person know that “he” is actually a “she.” As a longtime member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, director Trevor Nunn (Lady Jane) has the material down cold, and he elicits finely calibrated performances from a cast that obviously knows and appreciates the subtleties of Shakespearean dialogue. Stubbs is delightful as the hapless cross-dresser, milking every situation and line for best comedic effect. Bonham Carter is equally skillful, resisting the obvious temptation to play her role with sly winks to the audience. Supporting player Richard E. Grant engages in some scene stealing as the foppish Sir Andrew Aguecheek, and Ben Kingsley shines as the troubadour Feste. Director Nunn really demonstrates his facility in the movie’s last quarter, presenting third-act plot twists and staging character interplay with perfect timing. Delightfully ribald and expertly made, Twelfth Night should amuse even those who normally shun Shakespeare.
All Movie Guide
About every decade, accomplished British theater director Trevor Nunn takes a break from the stage for a foray into filmmaking, and Twelfth Night is his project for the 1990s. This handsomely mounted version of Shakespeare's beloved screwball comedy suggests he should lower himself to celluloid adaptations more often. An energetic, first-rate cast seems to be having tons of fun with the intertwined plot and multiple entendres of Shakespeare's dialogue. Especially effective is Ben Kingsley as Feste, the "fool"; in this topsy-turvy world, he emerges as the deceptively wise commentator on these ludicrous events, practically winking at the camera in a gleeful awareness he withholds from the others. Nigel Hawthorne is also memorable as the stuffy Malvolio, who gets tricked into his own reversal through a practical joke, becoming more a fool than the drunkards and other merry-makers who set him up. Those who prefer Shakespeare's tragedies will undoubtedly find their patience tried by the essential frivolity of the whole enterprise. But those open to the Bard at his breeziest should enjoy Twelfth Night, especially with Nunn's solid job of sorting out the myriad characters, which leaves the language the only obstacle for a viewer to tackle.

Product Details

Release Date:
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Image Entertainment
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Special Features

Behine-the-scenes footage; Intervieews; Theatrical trailer and tv spots

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Helena Bonham Carter Olivia
Imogen Stubbs Viola
Nigel Hawthorne Malvolio
Ben Kingsley Feste
Mel Smith Sir Toby Belch
Richard Grant Sir Andrew Aguecheek
Imelda Staunton Maria
Toby Stephens Orsino
Steven Mackintosh Sebastian
Nicholas Farrell Antonio
Timothy Bentinck Officer
Rod Culbertson Officer
Peter Gunn Fabian
Jeff Hall Gardener
Sidney Livingstone Captain
Alan Mitchell Valentine
James Walker Priest

Technical Credits
Trevor Nunn Director,Screenwriter
Sophie Becher Production Designer
Peter Boyle Editor
John Bright Costumes/Costume Designer
Mark Cooper Producer
David Crozier Sound/Sound Designer
Shaun Davey Score Composer,Songwriter
Stephen Evans Producer
Ileen Maisel Executive Producer
David Parfitt Producer
Carl Proctor Casting
Greg Smith Executive Producer
Clive Tickner Cinematographer
Guy Travers Asst. Director
Ruth Vitale Executive Producer
Jonathan Weisgal Executive Producer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Twelfth Night
1. The Shipwreck [4:22]
2. An Alien Shore [5:01]
3. Main Title [1:54]
4. Cesario and the Count [5:20]
5. Sir Toby and Sir Andrew [4:14]
6. Who's the Fool? [7:54]
7. Orsino's Embassy [11:12]
8. My Name is Sebastian [1:56]
9. Love Song [7:19]
10. Malvolio's Admonitions [9:25]
11. Letter of Love [8:12]
12. I Am Not What I Am [1:04]
13. Come Away Death [9:01]
14. Malvolio's Declaration [10:06]
15. Dueling Cowards [1:02]
16. Antionio's Arrest [:07]
17. Sebastian's Confusion [3:39]
18. Master Topas [6:52]
19. Olivia's Husband [2:29]
20. Reunited [3:06]
21. This Is Not My Writing [4:11]
22. End Credits [9:17]
23. Chapter 23 [5:51]
24. Chapter 24 [5:41]
25. Chapter 25 [4:19]


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Twelfth Night 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wife More than 1 year ago
I bought this movie to watch in concordance with studying the play with my daughter. We were disappointed to find whole sections of scenes missing. It was also very hard to follow along as the scenes where re-arranged and often 2 or more scenes were interspersed with each other. However, it made for interesting discussion of the director's choices in portraying this comedy. Nigel Hawthorne's portrayal of Malvolio was so earnest that while the prank on him is cruel no matter how it is set up, the grief and shame brought out were squirm-worthy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
The language is great! I've read the play, but I never would have understood it if I hadn't watched the movie first. Helena Bonham Carter is cute, and I absolutely love Ben Kingsley as the jester. Even though it's a typical Shakespeare story (with a drunk,fool and the rejected lover), I still highly recomend it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I first saw this movie I fell in love with the consept. The idea of loves know and yet unspoken, It is a true joy to watch as they come a shore and go thow a mairy go around of triel and defeat, only to win ones heart and find each other. They Need to get it on DVD. :-)
Guest More than 1 year ago
There are only 2 Shakesperean movies that I liked watching,Twelfth Night w/Helena Bonham Carter & Much Ado About Nothing w/Kenneth Branagh.The only thing I'm disappointed with is that the only way I can get a DVD version of Twelfth Night is if I buy it overseas.Now how come I can't buy it here in the U.S.?Can someone tell me?I really loved watching that movie.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After I watched Twelfth Night at school, I fell in love with the movie and rent it on video. Ever since then, I've watched it about 10 times. It is the kind of movie that you don't get sick of. I thought that the acting as brilliant, scenery beautiful and the actors/actresses were wonderful! This film is definatly going on my 'favourite films' list!
Guest More than 1 year ago
....men are more to my taste :) but Imogen Stubbs played this part so deeply and soulfully (not to detract from the other players, which were amazing as well) that I couldn't help but feel her character become a part of my person. As it should be with Shakespeare... truly, he is the one I have fallen for.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a rare shakespearian film. Without the aid of present day scenery, pacing, or music, the emotion of this movie appeals to a shakespear novice, while satisfying even the most learned of readers. The acting is superb, the story beautiful and moving. Imogen Stubbs is radiant.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Very well done. This movie allows the play to be much better understood.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I liked the production fairly well. Some things worked; others didn't. The setting was excellent geographically and in historical time. Costumes good particularly the soldiers of the Duke who got across the impression of menace. The casting had one flaw for me - Carter as Olivia. She's an excellent actress but too small in stature and not the right facial structure to play Olivia. She should have played Viola where her role as a lively and youthful beauty would have worked better. Well acted generally and got across points which I had altogether missed in another production eg the way Sir Andrew's love was exploited by Sir Toby. Feste was a little stiff and grim for a jester; should have been more lively and fluid.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a really good funny movie. Very easy to follow (at least to me). Refreshing after the majority of recent movies laden with special effects and little else.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a great movie! I had to read the book in school, and I wasn't crazy about it, but the movie brought the book to life and I laughed so hard!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great movie to watch with friends. Even if you know little to nothing about shakesphere (which, in my mind, is impossible in this day and age). I loved it, the actors are just right for it and is set in a time period that really fits it. Helena Bonheim Carter is wonderful as are all of the other actors.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you ever wanted a movie where the story was not predictable, funny, full of romance and action, then this is the movie. It's clean fun, a delight for the heart. I always enjoy watching this movie.