As You Like It (2006 film)

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As You Like It
As U Like It 2006 poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed by Kenneth Branagh
Produced by Kenneth Branagh
Judy Hofflund
Simon Moseley
Screenplay by Kenneth Branagh (adaptation)
Based on As You Like It 
by William Shakespeare
Starring Romola Garai
Bryce Dallas Howard
Kevin Kline
Adrian Lester
Janet McTeer
Alfred Molina
David Oyelowo
Music by Patrick Doyle
Cinematography Roger Lanser
Edited by Neil Farrell
Distributed by HBO Films (USA)
BBC Films
Lionsgate Films (Europe)
Release dates
  • 1 September 2006 (2006-09-01) (Italy)
  • 21 September 2007 (2007-09-21) (United Kingdom)
Running time
127 minutes
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Box office $442,515

As You Like It is a 2006 film adapted for the screen and directed by Kenneth Branagh, based on the play of the same name by William Shakespeare. It stars Bryce Dallas Howard as Rosalind, David Oyelowo as Orlando De Boys, Romola Garai as Celia, Adrian Lester as Oliver De Boys, Alfred Molina as Touchstone, Kevin Kline as Jaques, Janet McTeer as Audrey, and Brian Blessed as Duke Frederick and his brother Duke Senior.

The play's setting is relocated from medieval France to a European colony in late 19th century Japan after the Meiji Restoration. It was shot at Shepperton Film Studios and on location at the never-before-filmed gardens of Wakehurst Place. The film is a production of The Shakespeare Film Company, financed by HBO Films. It is Kenneth Branagh's first Shakespearean film shot in a Super 35 format.


See the Plot for the original Play.

The Japanese re-imagining[edit]

Although the film was not actually made there, Branagh re-imagined the events as taking place in Japan during the late nineteenth century, when many English traders made their homes there – hence the presence of many British actors in lead roles. Duke Senior's court is imagined as a British outpost whose ruler admires Japanese culture; although most of the inhabitants wear European clothes, Duke Senior and his brother both wear Japanese clothes. The British ladies of the outpost modestly use fans to cover their faces and wear their hair in styles reminiscent of traditional Japanese hairstyles. When the banished characters travel to the Forest of Arden, its inhabitants are played by a mixture of Japanese and Western actors (Phoebe and William are Japanese, Silvius is played as a Westerner who wears Japanese style clothes, and Corin and Audrey are Westerners). The de Boys brothers Orlando and Oliver are played by Black British actors.

Despite the change of setting, the language remains that of Shakespeare's play, the names of the characters are the same, and the original plot is followed closely. Some critics praised the setting, others found it unnecessary and irrelevant, since the majority of the characters are not Japanese.[1][2]

Branagh also invented a new prologue, in which ninja warriors stage an attack on Duke Senior and his family as they watch a performance of Kabuki theatre. By including this scene, Branagh is able to show the exact moment that Duke Frederick usurps his brother's kingdom, something that Shakespeare himself omitted. Later on, Orlando fights not merely a wrestler, but a sumo wrestler. The epilogue, which deliberately interrupts the closing credits, features Rosalind giving her speech while the camera pans to see that Bryce Dallas Howard, who plays Rosalind in the film, is walking back to her dressing trailer on the film's location setting.



The film was released theatrically in Italy on 1 September 2006 and released on Italian DVD on 23 January 2007. From there it went to theatres in Greece and Hungary.[3]

In the United States, HBO began airing the film on TV on the evening of 21 August 2007, but it has never had a true theatrical release in the US, only occasional one-time showings, and most of these US showings took place after the film's television premiere. It is the only one of Branagh's Shakespeare films to be released directly to television instead of to theatres in the U.S, though it was not the first to have a very limited theatrical release – Branagh's Love's Labour's Lost played in US theatres only in New York City, Los Angeles, and Boston.[4] In more recent years, Julie Taymor's 2010 film version of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" also had an extremely limited theatrical release in the U.S, and Ralph Fiennes's Coriolanus not only did not have a wide US release, but has not even appeared on cable as of February 2013, although it is available on DVD.

Branagh's As You Like It received a wide theatrical release in the UK on 21 September 2007, exactly one month after its US cable TV debut. It was also shown at a meeting of the Shakespeare Association of America earlier that year, before making its US TV debut.[3] More than two years after its release, in January 2009, the film began playing theatres in Mexico.[3]

The DVD was released in the US on 25 September 2007.


The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes awards the film a 36% score, based primarily on the British reviews, which soundly panned it.[5] However, another aggregator, Metacritic, awards it 75%, as it is based largely on the American reviews, which gave it favourable notices.[6]

Many American critics hailed the film as a "comeback" for Branagh's Shakespeare adaptations, which had reached what many considered a low point with Love's Labour's Lost.[7][8] A negative US reviewer was film critic Stanley Kauffmann, who had admired Branagh's film versions of Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, and Hamlet; he blasted the film, saying that he could barely get through it, and that, by giving it such an unusual setting, Branagh seemed to be trying to "apologize" to the viewing audience for the fact that As You Like It was a Shakespeare film.[9] Critic Virginia Heffernan writing for The New York Times was also negative pointing out that movie reduces the role of main character Rosalind; "Mr. Branagh has teased out every manly rivalry and preserved every hey-nonny-nonny of the kooks in the Forest of Arden, but slashed passages of the repartee that defines Rosalind."[10]


In January 2008 Kevin Kline received a SAG award (Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries) for his performance in this film, although strictly speaking, the film is not a made-for-television movie; made-for-TV films do not play theatrically in other countries before being released directly to TV in the US; they do so afterwards. This makes Kline the first actor to win a major US award for acting in one of Branagh's Shakespeare films, though some of his others have won critics' awards for the acting in them.

Likewise, Bryce Dallas Howard received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Made-for-TV Film or Miniseries, but did not win the award.


  1. ^ "As You Like It". The Times. 13 March 2012. Retrieved 24 July 2012. 
  2. ^ Gronvall, Andrea (16 August 2007). "Wrong Turn". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 24 July 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c "As You Like It - Release Info". IMDb. Retrieved 25 October 2013. 
  4. ^ "Love's Labour's Lost - Release Info". IMDb. Retrieved 25 October 2013. 
  5. ^ "As You Like It". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 24 July 2012. 
  6. ^ "As You Like It : Season 1". Metacritic. 21 August 2007. Retrieved 24 July 2012. 
  7. ^ Gilbert, Matthew (21 August 2007). "She's the most likable part of HBO's 'As You Like It'". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 24 July 2012. 
  8. ^ "As You Like It". DVD Verdict. 25 September 2007. Retrieved 24 July 2012. 
  9. ^ Kauffman, Stanley (19 October 2007). "Desire and Deceit". New Republic. Retrieved 25 October 2013. 
  10. ^ Heffernan, Virginia (21 August 2007). "Enough Already, Rosalind, Let the Kooks Talk". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 

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