outrageously slim. and it’s all in the doing of

it. it’s all in the breathlessness with which the

thing is put together.‘

In other words. ifyou‘re not willing to suspend belief. stay in and watch World In Action. This is. as the Observer Magazine succinctly put it. ‘a slab of Hollywood hokum. but 24-carat hokum.‘ Nevertheless. there is emphasis on that word

‘old-fashioned‘. and by doing a retrospective

thiller. he may well be giving strength to those arguments that say Branagh and his Shakespeare tours do not represent the innovative end of British theatre; turn that Observer quote around. they say. and polished mediocrity is still. in essence. mediocre.

This view doesn‘t do justice to Dead Again. a stylish and hugely enjoyable fairground ride. the cinematic equivalent of a well-thumbed paperback that forces the reader to turn the next page. And it also excludes any long-term benefits that Branagh's Stateside jaunt may bring to his home shores. Not only do we now have a British-based director who has honed his technical skills and learnt a few useful lessons from the test preview system. we have someone who can perhaps lure the big names over here. He is already into the planning stage of another Shakespeare film to be made in Britain. this time one ofthe

comedies. and reckons to cast it with regulars from his five-year-old Renaissance Theatre Company supplemented by a host of international stars.

‘As far as Americans go.‘ he says. ‘I think that somebody like Andy Garcia would be good in Shakespeare because. when you look at his performance in Godfather 11]. there‘s a kind ofemotional fearlessncss and rawness to his acting. a passionate thing that Shakespeare needs for it to be real. Now. he

I’ve watched many more American movies than I’ve ever seen classic plays in the theatre.

also has a very strong technical awareness of how to act in front ofa camera. so it‘s not as if you’re trying to control a wild thing: he’s a very disciplined young man who happens to have a tiger in his tank. He‘d be very exciting to work with. Or De Niro. Or any ofthosc big boyos. And I think they’re interested tOO.

“American actors practice so much more

than us and they’re in films more regularly. l so that you learn a great deal from spending

1 months watching them. It takes the tight-arsed quality out of some ofour acting. And one ofthe things that‘s always been a factor and maybe an increasingly important one in any recovery ofthe so-called British film industry is that you have to be aware of those elements that attract an international audience and therefore have a chance of making a film economically viable. You need subjects that appeal to a larger audience. and you need actors and other people attached to it that also have an appeal.‘

Whether or not these commendable beliefs actually make it onto celluloid remains to be seen. but more implausible things have happened to the man who began his theatre career as Dougal in a school production of The Magic Roundabout. and went on to have an impromptu interview with Prince Charles on the loneliness of royalty when ' chosen to be the RSC’s youngest-ever Henry

V. The latest entry on an impressive CV may ; well be titled Dead Again. but having taken i on Hollywood and emerged artistically unscathed. it seems that. for Kenneth Branagh. Dead Lucky Again would be more


: Dead Again ( 15) opens wide/y across C ‘entra/ j Scotland on Fri 25 ()('t.


The List 25 October 7 November [WI 11