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The BBC's David Sillito reports
"Shakespeare, Busby Berkeley-style"
 real 28k

Thursday, 16 March, 2000, 11:33 GMT
Branagh's labour premieres
Kenneth Branagh and Esther Williams
Branagh welcomes Esther Williams to the premiere
Kenneth Branagh had two surprise guests for the London launch of his Shakespeare adaptation Love's Labour's Lost - his former partner Helena Bonham Carter and Hollywood legend Esther Williams.

The film which sees the play transformed into a 1930s musical, received its UK premiere at the Odeon West End in Leicester Square, London.

Helena Bonham Carter
Just a good friend: Helena Bonham Carter arrives
Bonham Carter, 33, arrived to lend her support to her former partner - while Branagh, 39, insisted they were just friends.

He told reporters: "She's a friend, she's come to see the film. I'm here with lots of friends and that's very nice."

Also there was 77-year-old Esther Williams, whose synchronised swimming routines made her a Hollywood legend.

The film includes a sequence which pays tribute to her performances.

Branagh said it was a challenge to work on what he admitted was an unusual project.

Kenneth Branagh and Alicia Silverstone
Alicia Silverstone: The film is "full of energy"
"Many people said I was mad - the musical genre hasn't worked with one or two notable exceptions for some time now," he explained.

Star Alicia Silverstone also attended the premiere. She said the film seemed like a natural idea when it was first put to her.

"When I read the script the first time it was like it was born that way," the 23-year-old actress said.

"Ken told me about how lots of Shakespeare's plays had songs in them and the script was just so organic it was perfect.

Love's Labours Lost
Silverstone in the film, which pays homage to 1930s musicals
"I do think a lot of people have a misunderstanding of Shakespeare - I did - and they think that it's it's so far above you."

She added: "I think it is such an original film, the best word I can use is refreshing. It's the kind of movie that is so full of energy."

Other stars of the film who attended the screening included Natascha McElhone, Carmen Ejogo, Adrian Lester, Emily Mortimer and Timothy Spall. The film opens across the UK on 31 March.

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See also:

16 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Branagh's musical Bard
13 Jan 00 | Entertainment
Branagh's Shakespeare honour
14 Jun 99 | Entertainment
Branagh's celebrity turn
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