Shakespeare 400 - Much Ado About Nothing

Part of Shakespeare 400 On Screen, presented in association with the University of Ottawa


Shakespeare 400 logo by Sarah TeufeeJoss Whedon, perhaps now best known as the director of Hollywood blockbusters like The Avengers, has long been a cult favourite for his television work, including ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ and ‘Firefly’. Much Ado About Nothing was created with virtually no budget during the twelve days that Whedon was supposed to have spent recovering from filming The Avengers before beginning post-production work. Instead, he invited some actor friends home with him for an extended house party.

Poster art for Much Ado About NothingSunny Southern California is the right setting for Much Ado, an adaptation of a play that influenced the screwball comedies of the golden age of cinema – a connection underscored by Whedon’s decision to film in black and white. There are clear echoes of Old Hollywood, especially His Girl Friday and The Philadelphia Story, and a distinct thread of film noir, but no discernible attempt to create echoes between the Buffyverse and the Bardiverse in the casting.

The thrill, for fans of Whedon’s oeuvre, lies in seeing favourite actors like Amy Acker (Beatrice), Alexis Denisof (Benedick) and Nathan Fillion (Dogberry) in new guises, but the warmth of this passion project shines through even for those unfamiliar with Buffy and her vampire-slaying pals. There is a charming DIY quality to the film which suggests something about forgiving one’s friends for their human failings, a theme which, after all, resonates with Shakespeare’s.

– Kathryn Prince, University of Ottawa

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