As You Like It

Sep 30

As You Like It

I alternate between the comedies and the tragedies for my yearly William Shakespeare selection. As You Like It was completely new to me; I had never seen a movie based on it or heard much about the tale, so I went in blind, which was sort of refreshing.

The story unfolds around Rosalind and Orlando in a largely bucolic setting. Rosalind’s father (Duke Senior) has recently been banished to the forest by her Uncle (Frederick); she gets a pass to stay, due to the fact that her cousin, Celia, is her best friend and ErMahGerd would die without her.  Orlando, a young buck who has recently been shunned by his brother, arrives at Frederick’s court to challenge the champion wrestler Charles.  Orlando shocks the crowd with his skills, and fair Rosalind swoons. (I kept picturing my brothers wrestling during the smack talking scenes. Some things never change.)

Celia and Rosalind decide to run away. The girls fear this journey, as “Beauty provoketh thieves sooner than gold.” I guess it is hard to be pretty. As this is Shakespeare, there always needs to be confusion and disguise: Rosalind dresses as a boy and Celia pretends to be poor.  The gals journey into the forest, seeking a life away from court. Love can never be easy; a young farm gal falls in love with the boy-version of Rosalind, and Rosalind, dressed as a young man, counsels Orlando in the ways of love.

This is a comedy, so of course there is one grand happy ending for all. I was pleased to stumble upon the original line, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” spoken by the doleful character Jacques while in the forest.  As You Like It is a wonderful romp through the forest, filled with many human themes that still ring true today.

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