One of Shakespeare’s famous plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, was adapted into a modern rendition titled A Midsummer’s Hawaiian Dream, which takes place in Hawaii, specifically Kauai (but the film was filmed on Oahu). I was ecstatic when I found out this film was playing because because A Midsummer Night’s Dream was the first Shakespeare play that I enjoyed reading and because of the fact that the film was set in Hawaii. As a modern-take, it should already be known that the adaptation wasn’t going to be the same as the original, especially since it’s taking place in a modern setting and in Hawaii. I genuinely enjoyed the film because the plot was so easy to follow, the film touched upon issues of sustainability and themes of taking care of the lad (malama i ka ‘aina), and, especially, because of Augie T. The film, in a nutshell, is about four anthropologists who go in a forest, searching for artifacts to help preserve Hawaii and its land in order to stop a man from destroying the forest and the land. The film also incorporates some of the main plot of the original play, such as some of the characters falling in love with the wrong person, and the “magic potion” that makes someone lovestruck.
Although the film had its cringe-worthy moments, the movie’s prized gem was Zander, played by Brent Bailey, when he was under the effects of the magic flower, who went from being in love with his colleague Hermione to being obsessed with his professor Helen. His character undergoes a quick transition from being serious and lowkey to being straight-forward and quirky. This spontaneous characteristic switch highlights his attractive qualities and helped bring him and Hermione together in the end. Zander, along with the other male lead Demitri, had one of the funniest on-screen interactions when they both were under the influence of the flower and fought for Helen’s love because they both regressed into the typical masculine stereotype, where they viewed the woman of desire (Helen) as a trophy to be fought over. They had to demonstrate their masculinity, to see who had the more dominant one and to demean the “weaker” one, in order to win Helen’s love—they did things such as arm-wrestle, and flex their shirtless bodies in front of Helen. Although this type of stereotype is very toxic, the context of the situation seems to parody and poke fun at that type of behavior, which added to the comedic effect of the film.
Despite that stereotypical behavior, Hermione, after being rejected by an under-the-influence Zander, goes into an existential crisis and questions her “hotness,” which was very overdone and dramatized, instead of focusing on the task given. However, the actors and actresses, and their characters, did a good job in portraying their Shakespearean original counterparts.
I kind of wish the movie was titled A Midsummer’s Hawaii Dream instead because, although the film portrayed Hawaiian culture, the story revolves more around the romance of the four main characters than the other plotline where they try to save the forest. However, I had a chance to talk to the director of the film Harry Cason and I love how he wanted to portray the Hawaiian culture in an accurate light—he he wanted to show the nobility of the culture, and the fact that it’s about respecting and taking care of the land. He also had crew members that were Native Hawaiian themselves and he asked them if his portrayals were accurate and okay—Cason put a lot of thought into this.
A Midsummer’s Hawaiian Dream does a great job at adapting Shakespeare and translating the original’s theme to a more contemporary audience—however, I was disappointed when Nick’s head didn’t turn into a donkey or any other animal. The charisma of the actors and actresses also make this movie successful, and it achieves the goal of representing some issues within Hawaii. I got to meet some of the cast members and even the director himself! I recommend this movie to everyone, and I would totally watch it again if given the chance.