“Everything is true”: Kenneth Branagh fulfills his fondest dream by playing Shakespeare

Santiago García reviews “All is True”, the film directed and starring Kenneth Branagh.

In 1989, a young actor, director and screenwriter revolutionized the world of cinema with his version of Henry V. Many spoke of a new Lawrence Oliverand others were quick to compare it with Orson Welles. After the waters calmed down, Kenneth Brangh He was able to demonstrate that his ambitions were great but that at the same time he sought to bring the work of his favorite author closer to the general public: William Shakespeare. In fact, Henry V It was the first of many adaptations he made of the writer, even making a four-hour version with the full text of Hamlet and a huge cast.

Kenneth Branagh fulfilled his dream of playing Shakespeare. (Sony Pictures)

But among so many fulfilled dreams there was one that was still missing and that was to play William Shakespeare himself. In All is true (All is True2018), finally managed to materialize that project. This film recounts the last years of the playwright’s life, beginning with the moment in which The Globe Theater caught fire in 1613. The play that was being presented when the accident occurred was Henry VIIIalso known as All is true. Shakespeare, aged forty-nine, then returns home from London to Stratford-upon-Avon to join his wife, Anne Hathaway (Judi Dench). Shakespeare and Anne have a distant relationship and both belong to different worlds. Their marriage has never recovered from the death of their eleven-year-old son Hamnet. Shakespeare’s relationship with his daughters is not very good and returning to his town confronts him with all the unfinished business in his life.

"All is True" is the original title of the production.  (Sony Pictures)
“All is True” is the original title of the production. (Sony Pictures)

Kenneth Branagh conducts an essay in which he seeks to unravel some of the mysteries surrounding the figure of his idol, which does not prevent him from having some light and even humorous moments. Not only does the great Judi Dench accompany him, she also appears Ian McKellen, another actor who, like his two castmates, has played Shakespearean characters on stage and in film. Together they are an absolute luxury. The period recreation is also beautiful and the director has placed the emphasis on realistically and poetically lighting each of the scenes, particularly the night scenes.

Judi Dench as Anne Shakespeare and Kenneth Branagh as William Shakespeare in a scene from the film.  (Sony Pictures)
Judi Dench as Anne Shakespeare and Kenneth Branagh as William Shakespeare in a scene from the film. (Sony Pictures)

But the most successful scenes are those in which the actors have long and elaborate dialogues, speeches that one could perfectly imagine from the mouth of William Shakespeare. Branagh knows the character so well, that he manages to give him a life that no one could say is real, but he looks like one. A tribute full of passion, as always in the work of the British director and actor.

For those who have not had the opportunity to see this production, they will be able to do so from this Saturday on Netflix.


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