Subsequent stage productions include some that saw a darker side to themes and characters in the play. Some productions used the opportunities provided by the play to emphasize sex, sometimes in unconventional interpretations. Some of this is theatrical overkill (the musicalization of Shakespeare) and intellectual laziness. But there are darker areas in this play than are explored in most productions, especially of the Shakespeare-in-the-Park "family viewing" kind. These themes and even speeches (noted by commentators like those mentioned in the above post) are part of Shakespeare's exploration of the unconscious, of the worlds of waking conventions and the "fierce vexations of a dream."
Peter Hall reconceived his stage version for a 1968 film (Bloom’s favorite.) Paul Rogers plays Bottom, Ian Richardson plays Oberon and Ian Holm is a brilliant Puck. Among the lovers are young actors Helen Mirren, Diana Rigg and David Warner (whose 1965 stage Hamlet is now legendary, though it wasn’t preserved on film.) The setting is supposedly Athens but it is noticeably influenced by the Carnaby Street fashions of the swinging sixties. In the 60s and 70s films, nudity in serious films was much more common than now, and the costume of Titania—played by the young Judi Dench—leaves little to the imagination. (Several Dench children play fairies.) This is a pretty complete version of the play, that seems to have fewer cuts than these other film versions. And it's not bad as a film, though recognizably a '60s- style movie (not '60s zooms so much as jump cuts.)
Dominic West (star of TV’s The Wire), Christian Bale, Calista Flockhart and Sam Rockwell are among today’s more recognizable names in this 1999 film—they acquit themselves well. (There’s a supply of bare skin in this version too, a lot of it Dominic West’s. Still, the mud wrestling sequence was a bit much.)
There’s some wonderful invention in this version, and the Pyramus and Thisbe playlet is the best I’ve seen—very funny and then moving. And you see how much was at stake for the craftsmen who performed it. (There’s a performance of just this playlet by the Beatles viewable on youtube: not a musical version but an actual if somewhat improvised performance.)
This 1999 film is notable also for using the well-known Wedding March in its original context—it was written by Mendelssohn for this marriage scene. Like the Redwood Park version I saw, it shortens the duke’s famous speech about the imagination. Perhaps they used the same script?