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jack_ryder

Julie Taymor's "The Tempest"

Get this out on DVD so you can just watch Helen Mirren as Prospera, Chris Cooper as Antonio. David Strathairn as Alonso, Alan Cumming as Sebastian and Tom Conti as Gonzalo. Whilst Alfred Molina gives a great performance as Stephano, he does it in the company of Russell Brand's Trinculo.

Reeve Carney as Ferdinand is completely out of his depth - it's like he won some kind of competition in drama school.

The CGI (mainly Ben Wishaw's Ariel - which has reasonable performance under the pixels) is sometimes good, sometimes risible and Taymor cannot prevent herself from shouting her themes from the rooftops BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT YOU DO WITH ART AIMED AT AMERICAN AUDIENCES!

If Mirren's performance wasn't so good, I'd say it's not worth seeing (unless you're curious, of course.) But Mirren is excellent, her Prospera survives being drowned out by Taymor's directorial sound and fury, so this adaptation is not entirely missable.

But it wasn't as good as the first Tempest I'd seen with a female Prospero.

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"But it wasn't as good as the first Tempest I'd seen with a female Prospero"

... Was that Bell Shakespeare Company?

No, it was a Sydney Theatre School production, directed by a friend of mine.

and Taymor cannot prevent herself from shouting her themes from the rooftops

Subtlety is not exactly her strong point. I don't think I'll bother with this one - to me the whole "let's update Shakespeare in a really radical way with some gimmick casting and lots of noise and outrageousness" is getting very old.

Helen Mirren is extremely good as Prospera - I don't think it really counts as "gimmick casting". I don't think it's a terribly radical update at all, it just gets a bit tedious with Brand's mugging and Reeve Carney's... whatever it is he's doing instead of acting.

Derek Jarman's Tempest is probably more radical, but I much prefer it (though I am going on memory, all I really remember was Heathcote Williams' Prospero and "Stormy Weather" being sung at the end.)

Helen Mirren is extremely good as Prospera

Helen Mirren doesn't impress me as much these days as she used to. Apparently she wants to play Hamlet. Now that would certainly be gimmick casting. The scary thing is, it will probably happen.

She's the right age for Prospero, she's entirely the wrong age for Hamlet.

She's the right age for Prospero, she's entirely the wrong age for
Hamlet.


The whole "I'm going to make a devastating feminist critique by casting women in men's roles" is embarrassingly 1970s though. To me it smacks of a lack of real confidence, a kind of apologising for being female, which to me seems more anti-feminist than feminist.

I may have to check out Prospero's Books. I note with amazement that it's actually available on DVD here. The plus is Gielgud. The minus is Greenaway. The only other movie of his that I've seen sent me to sleep.

"A Zed and Two Noughts" always has that effect on me but I really like (although I never want to see it again) "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover".

It's a tough call if you have low tolerance to Greenaway - it's certainly worth seeing Gielgud's definitive performance (I'd equate it with Paul Schofield's Lear) but there's a lot of Greenaway you have to get through.

I also like "Prospero's Books" a lot - no gimmick casting (Gielgud is a perfect Prospero) but lots and lots of noise and outrageousness. And sometimes, off in the distance, you can hear actual bits of Shakespeare.

And sometimes, off in the distance, you can hear actual bits of Shakespeare

How did they get away with that?

"Prospero's Books" is more of a film essay (like a number of Peter Greenaway's films) than a straight adaptation of "The Tempest".

It's very much a your-mileage-may-vary film. Certainly you may want to check out footage on youtube before you commit to watching the whole thing.

There are two non-Shakespearian adaptations of "The Tempest" that I know of - "Forbidden Planet" and Paul Mazursky's update "Tempest (where the Prospero character is an architect played by John Cassavetes.)


There are two non-Shakespearian adaptations of "The Tempest" that I know
of - "Forbidden Planet" and Paul Mazursky's update "Tempest (where the
Prospero character is an architect played by John Cassavetes.)


I adore Forbidden Planet, but then radical reinterpretations of Shakespeare were less of a tired concept in 1956.

Does Kurosawa' s Throne of Blood count, or would you class it as more straight adaptation?

Does Kurosawa' s Throne of Blood count, or would you class it as more straight adaptation?

I think it's a much more straight adaptation than Ran of King Lear (which changed the daughters to sons.)

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