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
Is definitely going to be a divisive film, but I found myself thoroughly enjoying The Tempest...
The Tempest is a wonderful but complicated play, and while I can understand the reactions of those who disliked it, I thoroughly enjoyed this one who I saw for the treasure that is Helen Mirren. It is not perfect, there are times where the delivery was a little too garbled or fast and Russell Brand gives a performance so lacking in subtlety that he did seem out of place to me. However, Helen Mirren is as ever magnificent as Prospera, with a commanding presence, intense delivery and sense of character and an urging sense of bitterness. Felicity Jones is an excellent Miranda, David Strathairn's Alonso is magnetic and Dijimon Hounsou is a Caliban that is both terrifying and sympathetic. Alfred Molina and Chris Cooper prove themselves to be scene-stealers, Ben Whishaw is an effective Ariel who as a spirit looks wonderful and Alan Cumming plays it straight and is good at it no matter how strange it initially is. Julie Taymor's direction is compelling and creative, especially in the character relationships, you feel the spiritual connection between Ariel and Prospera, the sadness of Caliban and Prospera's sorrowful weariness at the end and the idea to have Caliban as Prospera's shadow self was convincing. The visuals are spectacular, right from the palaces, towers, columns and the scenery itself helped by well-above average effects and sweeping cinematography. The dialogue is as poetic and witty as ever, and while some may find the rock music jarring, while it is not my kind of music, it did give some energetic flavour to the songs. All in all, not a movie that everybody is going to like, but while not perfect I thoroughly enjoyed it. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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