Kenneth Branagh 1993 Film Adaptation

Kenneth Branagh Much Ado About Nothing Emma ThompsonActor and director, Kenneth Branagh adapted Shakespeare’s popular stage play Much Ado About Nothing into a film in 1993. The motion picture was a romantic comedy that grossed $36 million worldwide, making it one of the most commercially successful Shakespeare film adaptations ever released.

Branagh’s adaptation, produced BBC Films, Renaissance Films and American Playhouse Theatrical Films,  very much stuck to Shakespeare’s original plot. Whilst the text was modernised every so slightly in Branagh’s screenplay, the film very much carried the essence of Shakespeare’s original.


The film is peppered with an all-star cast, including Branagh’s former wife, Emma Thompson and Kate Beckinsale in her film debut. See the full casting details below.

Leonato – Richard BrinesMuch Ado Kenneth Branagh

Don Pedro – Denzel Washington

Claudio – Robert Sean Leonard

Benedick – Kenneth Branagh

Beatrice – Emma Thompson

Hero –  Kate Beckinsale

Don John – Keanu Reeves

Margret – Imelda Stanton

Antionio – Brian Blessed

Borachio – Gerard Horan

Conrade – Richard Clifford

Dogberry – Michael Keaton

Verges – Ben Elton

Balthazar – Patrick Doyle

Ursula – Phyllida Law

Friar Francis – Jimmy Yuill


Whilst it is highly likely that Shakespeare’s original production would have included music in some form or another, it does not carry a score which directors can replicate. In Branagh’s film adaptation, he enlisted long-time collaborator, Patrick Doyle, to create an original score for the piece.

Doyle also makes a cameo in the film as the musician, Balthazar. His original music for the film includes numbers “The Sweetest Lady”, “The Conspirators”, and “Sigh No More Ladies.” Other pieces of orchestration can be heard as part of the overture, during the masked ball and at Hero’s wedding.

Response and Awards

Kenneth Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing was met with a warm critical response and was by all means a box office success.

Whilst the film was nominated for several awards, including the BAFTA for Best Costume and the Golden Globe for Best Musical or Comedy Motion Picture, the only two awards that were won were an Evening Standard Award for Best Actress which went to Emma Thompson and the London Film Critic’s Award for Best Producer which went to Branagh himself.

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