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Kenneth Branagh Directing

A jack of all trades who has seemingly risen to the status of British national treasure, Kenneth Branagh has gone from Shakespeare to Superheroes and now to Tom Clancy adaptations with his new movie, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. This list is going to focus only on his directorial works as it’s often the section of Branagh’s work which is overlooked; everybody knows him as the actor but less people know the director behind the countless Shakespeare adaptations.

He has a single Academy Award nomination for Best Director (for Henry V), but in recent years, he has deliberately moved into the Hollywood action arena, first with Thor and now with Jack Ryan, a step not many would have expected him to ever make. For me, Thor was a near disaster and I’m not holding out hope that Jack Ryan is going to revolutionise the action genre, so selfishly I’d like him to go back and do something a little bit more serious. But with that being said, he is a very interesting director who has even contributed a couple of masterpieces to cinema. Here’s a look at six of his best.

6. As You Like It

as-you-like-it

Confined to being shown on HBO, As You Like It has been Branagh’s most divisive Shakespeare adaptation with its unusual setting added to the fact that the play is one of Shakespeare’s lesser works. Relocated to 19th Century Japan, a decision that is strange as it adds very little to the play except that it looks exquisite, As You Like It is Branagh’s most experimental Shakespeare movie. There is an additional prologue that shows Duke Frederick’s usurping of his brother and the epilogue also has a meta touch as Bryce Dallas Howard is shown walking back to her on-set trailer during Rosalind’s final speech.

The cast is accomplished and features the aforementioned Howard, Adrian Lester, David Oyelowo, Kevin Kline, Alfred Molina and Brian Blessed in a duel role as both dukes. It was much more warmly received stateside, but As You Like It remains a sterling work and is one of the more underrated Shakespeare adaptations.

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