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Prospero, a potent magician, lives on a desolate isle with his virginal daughter, Miranda. He's in exile, banished from his duchy by his usurping brother and the King of Naples. Providence brings these enemies near; aided by his vassal the spirit Ariel, Prospero conjures a tempest to wreck the Italian ship. The king's son, thinking all others lost, becomes Prospero's prisoner, falling in love with Miranda and she with him. Prospero's brother and the king wander the island, as do a drunken cook and sailor, who conspire with Caliban, Prospero's beastly slave, to murder Prospero. Prospero wants reason to triumph, Ariel wants his freedom, Miranda a husband; the sailors want to dance. Written by
Derek Jarman's take on Shakespeare makes it into something of a punk symphony, without sacrificing the heart of the play. His cast are mostly very good especially Heathcote Williams as Prospero, Toyah as Miranda, and Karl Johnson as Ariel and the bits that are added fit in well, especially Elisabeth Welch's appearance singing Stormy Weather'.
Comedy light relief is provided by Ken Campbell and Christopher Biggins as the shipwrecked drunks finding themselves on Prospero's enchanted island, with Jack Birkett as a creepy Caliban.
The film keeps the interest by using the unexpected it may miss the point of the quieter moments of the play but makes up for this by its sheer inventiveness. Even the songs are treated well with Johnson's sharp suited sprite showing a mischievous streak which works perfectly. All this is covered with a queer gloss which informs the play with a new perspective.
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