WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE'S A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
About The Production (Cont'd)
"If Hermia is crying, which is something she does quite frequently, I cry for real," says Anna Friel, "because these characters are very real
"If Hermia is crying, which is something
she does quite frequently, I cry for real," says Anna Friel,
"because these characters are very real." Her character
has a right to cry: After starting off in the enviable position
of being chased by two suitors, Hermia finds that she has been
suddenly and inexplicably dumped by both of them for her best
friend, whom she was feeling sorry for only a short time ago.
Calista Flockhart plays Hermia's friend Helena,
who pedals after Demetrius when he follows Hermia into the woods.
"People call Helena obsessed," says Calista Flockhart,
"but I like to think of her as hugely determined. I think
she knows that, somewhere inside him, Demetrius loves her and
she just has to get his attention -- that's what gives her confidence."
"She's not only obsessed with Demetrius," clarifies
Flockhart. "She's a little obsessed with her bike. It was
a bit heavy, which was great, because it gave me an incredible
obstacle to work with."
The director says that the bike also proved useful in delineating
Helena's character. "It ends up symbolizing all the things
she mythologizes about herself which make her a victim,"
he says, "like the idea that she's not pretty enough or good
enough or lovable enough. It becomes this thing she carries around
with her, like all the negative concepts of herself that she is
eventually able to get rid of."
Helena's obsession seems to have been transferred to the director:
During filming at Cinecitta Studios in Rome, Michael Hoffman was
often seen personally testing the antique bicycles that were used
in the film, making sure that the brakes and other equipment worked
before turning them over to his actors.
As rich in comic and dramatic meaning as the bicycles turned out
to be, he says, they started off as a solution to the practical
problem posed by the film's limited budget for special effects:
"Puck says things like, 'I go, I go, look how I go/Swifter
than an arrow from a Tartar's bow' and 'I'll put a girdle round
about the earth/In forty minutes.' And I thought, what am I going
to do with that?" Then it occurred to me, maybe the turtle
gets swapped for a bicycle. And what if Puck has never seen a
That led to an inspiration for the film's opening that helped
solve what Hoffman considered the biggest challenge in filming
"William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream." "The
hard thing for me was always the fairy world," he says. "The
make-up department created creatures that penetrate a lot of the
conscious levels of defense and look a little like something you've
seen in your dreams. But how do you move from the concrete world
of real rocks and stones to this remarkable set full of nymphs,
satyrs, centaurs, Medusas and two-faced creatures?"
So, during the film's opening panorama of a bustling Tuscan town
square, filled with 300 extras dressed by costume designer Gabriella
Pescucci in turn-of-the-century costumes, sharp-eyed spectators
will spot satyrs in street clothes who sport horns under their
hats and little satyr feet, carting off spoils to adorn the fairy
kingdom from which they come and upgrade its technology.
"We used the same russets, ochres and burnt siennas for that
scene that we see later in the Magic Forest, to marry the two
worlds," says production designer Luciana Arrighi. "Montepulci
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