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In Julie Taymor's version of 'The Tempest,' the main character is now a woman named Prospera. Going back to the 16th or 17th century, women practicing the magical arts of alchemy were often convicted of witchcraft. In Taymor's version, Prospera is usurped by her brother and sent off with her four-year daughter on a ship. She ends up on an island; it's a tabula rasa: no society, so the mother figure becomes a father figure to Miranda. This leads to the power struggle and balance between Caliban and Prospera; a struggle not about brawn, but about intellect. Written by
The metal-thread piping on the outfits of Antonio and several others are actually zippers. This is clear in the close-ups for the spell circle scene where a zipper on his sleeve is open and the slider is visible as Prospera talks to him. The zipper sliders on the top of the outfit that Prospera wears after this scene are still attached (they look like points, or ends of laces). See more »
Shakespeare's last play The Tempest tells the tale of a sorcerer Prospera and her daughter who have been cast off and banished and find themselves on a barren island where she takes Caliban as her slave. Many years later she creates a tempest to wreck the ship carrying those that banished her and the survivors of the ship find themselves on the island including the kings son who falls for Prospera's daughter. Throw in a spirit slave who helps Prospera bring the newcomers to her and the slaves of the King who side with Caliban to destroy Prospera and you have a real blend of genres.
Julie Taymor brings another Shakespeare play to the big screen after her magnificent version of Titus. The Tempest is really a blend of drama, romance, fantasy and comedy and with it's supernatural and magical elements it's quite a story to bring to the big screen. Changing the lead of Prospero to a female role, makes little difference and Helen Mirren as Prospera is very good, but performance wise she is the only standout with the rest of the cast going through the paces; and casting Russel Brand as the jester does not bring enough light relief and makes me wonder since when did Russel Brand become an actor? Taymor tries to makes this as natural as possible, but that's difficult to achieve with it's fantastical elements and many of the these moments fail, including the spirit Ariel, whose appearances are like Caspar The Ghost and only when he appears as a sign of madness to the king and his men as a dark ominous bird does the fantasy finally work. The film also feels stilted at times and for something that contains so much fantasy and magic it feels for the most part bland and dull and bad use of music, much of which sounds like something from a bad rock music doesn't help achieve anything.
Interesting use of landscapes and Mirren's performance are worthy elements but that's not enough to redeem the film, which with Taymor at the helm doesn't work nearly as well as her previous efforts.
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