Film Review: As You Like It, Shakespearean Play Filmed by Director Kenneth Branagh

by DerdriuMarriner

As You Like It by William Shakespeare gets the attention of a master of his craft when Kenneth Branagh matches cast with characters and dialogues and crew with props and venues.

As You Like It asks what pleases audiences:

As You Like It assumes an enthralling niche within William Shakespeare’s (April 23, 1564? – April 23, 1616) plays and sonnets when adapted for movie-going audiences by Sir Kenneth Charles Branagh and released for:
• cinematographic premiere on September 1, 2006 in Italy;
• television premiere on August 21, 2007 in the United States of America; and
• DVD premiere on October 8, 2007.

The pastoral comedy belongs among those Shakespearean settings which include bio-geographies outside England since events occur in:
• a duchy in France; and
• the Forest of Arden.

It challenges readers and viewers with Arden’s true identity as forested areas at:
• Arden near the Bard’s Warwickshire hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon; or
• Ardennes in northeastern France, southeastern Belgium, and western Luxembourg.

Bryce Dallas Howard, daughter of director Ron "Opie" Howard, plays Rosalind in Kenneth Branagh's film version of "As You Like It" by William Shakespeare.

Her charming delivery of the epilogue takes place near and at the film's lot-full of trailers.
2008 Toronto International Film Festival
2008 Toronto International Film Festival

As You Like It breaks one pre-conceived notion


The Branaghian film nevertheless deviates from the Shakespearean play by:

  • inventing a prologue which situates the governmental overthrow by ninja warriors during a Kabuki theatre performance; and
  • setting events in British outposts within nineteenth-century Japan.

The venue emerges as particularly supportive of the forest-dwellers’ courage and of the music score’s haunting mix of East and West. It finds itself therefore no way obstructive to the otherwise faithful Branaghian representation of actions, characters, and dialogues.

The action goes immediately from Duke Senior’s (Brian Blessed) banishment into:

  • Duke Frederick (Brian Blessed) accepting his niece Rosalind’s (Bryce Dallas Howard) friendship with his daughter Celia (Romola Garai);
  • Orlando De Boys (David Oyelowo) beating and rendering speechless Charles the Wrestler (Yee Tsou). 


Outside of the studio, Kenneth Branagh filmed on location at Wakehurst Place near Ardingly, West Sussex, in southern England's High Weald.

Wakehurst Place is a National Trust property managed by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Japanese Garden at Wakehurst Place
Japanese Garden at Wakehurst Place

As You Like It cherishes forests and friends


Accompanied by court jester Touchstone (Alfred Molina), Celia and Rosalind hide behind respective disguises as Aliena (Stranger) and Ganymede after Frederick banishes the latter 20+ miles (32.19+ kilometers) from the court for giving Orlando -- third son of Sir Rowland De Boys -- a necklace. His 80-year-old servant Adam (Richard Briers) likewise is successful in extracting Orlando from his stable home -- subsequently burned by elder brother Oliver (Adrian Lester) -- and into Senior’s counter-court in Arden. The two migrations join company after:

  • Amiens (Patrick Doyle) sings Under the Greenwood Tree;
  • Celia, Rosalind, and Touchstone trade gold for food so Corin (Jimmy Yuill) can buy his master’s flocks and sheepcote; and
  • Orlando turns trees into poem-riddled posts. 


As You Like It ~ William Shakespeare's play directed by Kenneth Branagh and imagined in late 19th century Japan

Kenneth Branagh filmography

As You Like It delivers many happy endings


Transgressors know right from wrong when:

  • Frederick chooses hermitry over dukedom;
  • Oliver decides to heal, not kill, Orlando, ambushed by a lioness;
  • Phebe (Jade Jefferies) ends disdaining co-pastoralist Silvius (Alex Wyndham);
  • Touchstone follows William’s (Paul Chan) praiseworthiness in viewing Audrey (Janet McTeer) as marriage-, not affair-worthy.

Frederick’s example leads Jaques (Kevin Kline) to hermitry after Oliver, Orlando, Silvius, and Touchstone respectively marry Celia, Rosalind, Phebe, and Audrey. So As You Like It makes 127 minutes culturally enriching and educationally entertaining, thanks to:

  • Kenneth Branagh, director, producer, screenwriter;
  • Patrick Doyle, music director;
  • Neil Farrell, editor;
  • Judy Hofflund and Simon Moseley, producers;
  • Roger Lanser, cinematographer; and
  • Venues in England at Shepperton Film Studios, Surrey, and Wakehurst Place, West Sussex. 



Kevin Kline in As You Like It ~ includes Patrick Doyle's "Under the Greenwood Tree" for flute and koto; also the play's famous monologue, "All the World's a Stage

Uploaded to YouTube on September 26, 2007 by MyShows AreOn ~ URL:



My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.


"As You Like It" extends the happiness of marital commitment to country folk with the marriage of Audrey and Touchstone ~

"Audrey": 1888 colored lithograph of illustration by genre and maritime painter Philip Richard Morris (December 4, 1836 - April 22, 1902).
commissioned by Graphic magazine, 1888
commissioned by Graphic magazine, 1888
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Touchstone and Audrey ~ poster available via AllPosters

Act III scene 3: steel engraving by Charles Cousen (1820-1897), after painting by John Pettie (March 17, 1839 - February 21, 1893), published in Art Journal of 1872
Touchstone and Audrey

Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 03/23/2015, DerdriuMarriner
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