My feelings about this movie are perhaps more mixed than about any other. To give this movie a rating, any rating, feels dishonest and is more than a little confusing for me. The first hour and a half of this movie was so atrocious that I literally grew hoarse from laughter and seriously considered making a compilation of all the absurd little sounds that Olivier made or of the five or six times when poor Bianca was literally dropped or thrown! It was too ridiculous, too insultingly poor, too uninspired to be taken seriously.
Then came the last hour. Maybe it's because I just got used to Olivier prancing about, waving his arms in the air and making noises like Opie from "Family Guy." I can't say for certain when the change happened, but all of a sudden the drama came together in a crashing crescendo of emotions and choked back tears. Maggie Smith's Desdemona is a very real person. Charismatic, kind, sensitive, headstrong. This performance managed, on top of the travesty that was most of the rest of the movie, to evoke my deepest pity and love. The relationship between Desdemona and Emilia was fleshed out, too, and made very real, and both women RICHLY deserved the nominations they received for their work.
And yet, this movie only warrants two stars from me. It's unjust that such wonderful performances should have been wasted on such hokey falderal.