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|Index||26 reviews in total|
28 out of 32 people found the following review useful:
The Essence of The Tempest, 19 September 2011
Author: gradyharp from United States
William Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST is probably his last play, written in
1610-11, and as such it has some of the more eloquent passages of
soliloquies of any of his works. In the original version the story is
set on a remote island, 'where Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan,
plots to restore his daughter Miranda to her rightful place, using
illusion and skillful manipulation. The eponymous tempest brings to the
island Prospero's usurping brother Antonio and the complicit Alonso,
King of Naples. There, his machinations bring about the revelation of
Antonio's low nature, the redemption of Alonso, and the marriage of
Miranda to Alonso's son, Ferdinand.' Enter Julie Taymor and the
imaginative play becomes even more so with her deft re-writing and
direction and use of visual effects. In Taymor's versions '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.'
Taymor and Shakespeare together make the important character of Ariel, Prospera's obedient sprite, a thing of magic: Ben Wishaw darts and floats and flies about apparently in the buff in a most ingenious fashion, delivering his lines in perfect Shakespearean cadence (his 'Full fathom five thy father lies... ' is exquisite). The transformation of Prospero to Prospera is magical with Helen Mirren once again proving that she is an incomparably fine actress (one great moment is her delivery of the lines 'Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits and are melted into air, into thin air: And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep.')
THE TEMPEST is an odd assortment of magic, treachery, young love, silly comedy, and odd goings on, but filled with a cast such as Taymor has selected it jumps alive with passion and glee. Caliban is Djimon Hounsou, Miranda is Felicity Jones, The King of Naples is David Strathairn and his son Ferdinand is young Reeve Carney, Prospera's brother Antonio is Chris Cooper and his sidekick Sebastian is Alan Cumming, and the two actors assigned to the buffoon roles are Albert Molina and Russell brand. Gonzalo is Tim Conti. This tightened Tempest works well though one wonders how much of the opening scenes' shipwreck (due to Prospera's calling upon the tempest) adds to the overall story. Yet in Taymor's vision it all comes together beautifully. The sung portions of the play and the musical sore in general are from the intelligent pen of Elliot Goldenthal. Recommended!
16 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Excellent Adaptation - Beautiful to Look At, 19 September 2011
Author: shiva777-9-153849 from North Carolina, USA
Wow this is one of those movies that I am completely baffled about the
low ranking on here. I agree with some of the critiques that the sound
mixing could have been better but overall the film was gorgeous,
overall well acted and very understandable for such a difficult play.
Someone mentioned poor special effects...I thought they were wonderful. Clearly the big money goes to plenty of trite blockbusters leaving little for pieces of art and beauty such as this. But what they lacked in money they made up for in creativity....I absolutely loved the rendition of the spirit Ariel. There was plenty of gorgeous scenery both real and mixed with CGI.
Julie Taymor never disappoints me and this is no exception!
23 out of 32 people found the following review useful:
Dame Helen reigns supreme, 6 March 2011
Author: tcbently from Berkshire, England
In casting Helen Mirren as Prospera, director Julie Taymor adds an
interesting spin to this Shakespeare adaptation.
Also CGI effects help make more sense of the story.
On the downside, film versions of the bard's plays rarely work perfectly (with the honourable exception of Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet) and unless you know the play already, the action here is pretty hard to follow. Also, it's a bit strange seeing comic genius Alan Cumming in a straight role.
Ultimately though, the main joy of the movie is Dame Helen. She does bitterness superbly. I loved the scene when Miranda first meets Ferdinand - Mirren's ironic commentary added a whole new dimension to the play for me.
I also loved Tony Conti as the aged senator Gonzalo. His performance is so masterful it puts his character at the forefront of the story for once - no bad thing.
Overall I think Shakespeare fans will really enjoy this film. Other people may be left a little bored and bewildered.
29 out of 44 people found the following review useful:
a crazy mix of the sublime, the visionary, the ridiculous and the dry/dull, 10 December 2010
Author: MisterWhiplash from United States
The Tempest shows a filmmaker just itching to let loose her turbulent,
big-splash-of-a-canvas vision of Shakespeare onto the screen, and the
itch, for better or worse, is scratched sufficiently. This is a work
that takes the delightfully and eerily dark take on the Bard that
Taymor had before with Titus and suffuses it with the
computer-generated surreal landscape of Across the Universe. Whether
you can really dig into Taymor's films or not, to varying degrees for
some, at the least it's hard to ignore her artistic prowess, of pushing
the envelope of what might be acceptable or just what is "normal" and
stretching the boundaries until you wonder what boundaries are even for
in the first place - that is, you wonder so that people like Taymor or
Terry Gilliam can break them, f*** them about, and give audiences
something different with the acting and the mood of the piece while,
oddly enough, staying true to at least the original spirit of the
source material (Beatles, Frida Kahlo, the Bard).
This time her Tempest is almost nearing all over the place visually, but luckily it's anchored on one of Shakespeare's most underrated works ; it's one of my personal favorites from him actually, a work drenched in fantasy and ideas of late 16th century God's law and man in the high and low areas of class, meaning those who have it (i.e. explorers) and those that don't Djimon Hunsou's native character. The big change to anyone who has read the play is that Prospero is now Prospera, played with big emotions and big movements of poise and stamina by Helen Mirren. Oh she's a force to be reckoned with, as a star and as a character that she's playing, and she's a practitioner of alchemy. This might already be subversive - in that time and era women like that were branded witches right away, but here it's something that is not only encouraged but flaunted - but then comes more 'colorful' though normal elements of explorers, washed up on the shore, and part of the King's army of sorts (Alfred Molina and Chris Cooper make up some of this bunch).
There's also a love story thrown in the mix between the two youngest members of the cast, actors whom, I'm sorry to say, I don't remember their names as they are kind of forgettable due to the script and Taymor's direction of them. I get the sense that among the rest of what she has to work with this is either the thing she's least concerned with, or she botched this part of the film. I didn't really buy any of this young-love stuff, not the interactions or the dippy acting, or even (to go back to the source if it's that) Shakespeare's dialog. This and a few other odd moments, such as a few scenes with CGI (some of it, though not all of it, with Ben Whishaw's spirit character Ariel who is up there with the clouds and the smoke of air) do detract from the quality of the rest of the film.
The rest of it, I should add, is a lot of fun, and extraordinary to take in. Djimon Hunsou makes his Caliban a terrifying but oddly sympathetic character, one who will do bad things and can- the scar on his face says 'Don't mess with me, Whitey' pretty clearly, even if it's said in old-school Bard speak- but has also been damaged over time. There is some depth there that isn't with some of the other supporting characters, as interesting as they are and acted as well as they are. Among the lot that I've mentioned and who are really excellent in scenes that just need plenty of good close-ups and not too much music, Molina, Cooper and a magnetic David Straitharn take up really good chunks of screen time.
The oddity here is Russell Brand. Appearing as himself, or what I can figure is him"self" after playing a similar crazy rock-and-roll type in Judd Apatow comedies, here he's kind of the Fool character, Trinculo, and it was kind of delightfully bizarre to see him here doing his thing with such gusto and humor. Maybe that was Taymor's intention, as with Mirren as Prospera in a way, to give this work that is centuries old and dealing with the aspect of Post-Colonial theory a modern uplift and change up the nature of the characters without taking too much away from their roots. But more to the point, one of the strengths of the film and that Taymor connected with is that Prospera's an artist in her own right, only with magic, and may be reckless with her 'art' but will go to the lengths that she will do to her will. An extreme example, but I have to wonder if what Taymor is doing here, as all over the place and great and not-so-great as it is, in its broad strokes its a really raw expression of her own art through this flawed ex-member of royalty.
Taymor's work is an "acquired taste" as the euphemism goes, another way of saying "go in at your own risk". The wild takes on set-pieces like the ship-crash, the trippy-hallucinogenic visions of characters, and the eccentric acting turn the Tempest into a curious delight, but you need to expect something like that. This is Shakespeare for the Modern Museum of Art group, not for stuffy intellectuals looking for Masterpiece theater. For its faults, some of them crucial, its alive and throbbing and that's good to have in this Awards season.
6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Good big-screen adaptation, 22 October 2011
Author: J P from Los Angeles, USA
Let's face it - Shakespeare's plays are wonderful. But they were written in an age when the Bard wrote them for the stages available then - like forums and village theaters. The scope and power of the projected screen as well as the acts recorded to be played over and over again in space and time - would have been a totally alien concept to Shakespeare. Here the makers of the film - especially Julie Taymor - deserves credit for having made this difficult transition with such effective ease. The scenes come off pretty natural and very well acted. Also the transformation of Propero into Prospera was intriguing when I first heard about this movie. But it came off very convincing - almost as if Shakespeare wrote it that way himself. I was just wondering why Taymor chose to do this though! Helen Mirren was her superb best. Djimon was excellent as Caliban. I saw him in the movie "The Island" earlier and found he does deliver his best in challenging roles. All other actors did their part very well. I would recommend this movie to Shakespeare buffs. Don't expect too much from it as Shakespeare certainly did not write action plays. But it was time well spent.
4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Is definitely going to be a divisive film, but I found myself thoroughly enjoying The Tempest..., 7 September 2012
Author: TheLittleSongbird from United Kingdom
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
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Faithful and engaging, 15 September 2012
This production most nearly resembles the 1980 BBC production but is of
a much grander cinematic scope in terms of locations and current
technology. It's best feature is that it retains the play, and might be
seen, thus as less like a movie.
A movie is often a series of images with music to add tone and meaning with dialog to move the piece forward. A play resides in words. Shakespeare and movies are uneasy together because they can be edited like the 2006 version of "As You Like it", with too much awful music extinguishing the words and then make a feeble film.
This version of The Tempest is strong in many areas and takes risks in others; which may not suit some viewers, but is not without intelligence in the choice.
Above all the text has been allowed to come through and thus the music played at ambient level. The language is the thing: that is what counts.
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Sound and Fury..., 3 September 2012
Author: OttoVonB from Switzerland
Julie Taymor (Frida, Titus) sets her sights on the Bard's final
masterpiece, recasting Prospero as Prospera (Hellen Mirren) and letting
the magic and romance loose in this very different take on The Tempest.
First, what works? Hellen Mirren does, rather unsurprisingly, and the art direction of photography are consistent with the vision of the woman who gave us Titus back in 1999. Kudos as well to the ever-watchable David Strathairn and Djimon Hounsou.
What annoys? Now we enter very subjective ground. This beautiful, deceptively simple play is turned into an amped up to the max, loud and frantic film. The electric guitar whines are painfully out of place, and Russell Brand, never guilty of subtlety on a good day, will make you claw your own eardrums out. It's almost as if Taymor had forgotten we were right there with her cast, right behind the camera, instead of sitting 50ft back in a packed theater.
This has proved an incredibly divisive film, and I feel split right down the middle on it. I admire Titus, in my mind one of the best Shakespeare adaptations in history, but whereas Taymor's turbocharged visuals and loud, often trashy use of sound and effects served as a perfect illustration for Shakesepare's bonkers gore-fest, it diminishes the more mature, heartfelt qualities of this play. The Tempest is a great playwright's swan song, the work of an aging, mature artist. Why would you give us an overly loud, ADD-afflicted MTV version?
Ultimately, this frustrating missed opportunity makes you wonder, did Taymor have her Shakespeare mixed up all along. Rather than give us "the stuff that dreams are made of", she serves us "a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing".
6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Am I Going Deaf, Or Was The Sound Muddy?, 15 January 2011
Author: Richard Nathan (Richard-Nathan@att.net) from Burbank, California
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As I get older, I have more and more trouble hearing the dialog in
films. Do people now know how to mix sound anymore, or am I going deaf
in my old age? When filming Shakespeare, I would think it would be
particularly important to record the lines so that you can hear what
the actors are saying, but I had trouble hearing about 30% of the
dialog. Or maybe the speakers in the theater where I saw the film were
As to the rest of the film, I thought it worked for the most part, although I didn't care for the actor playing Ferdinand. He seemed more like a stable boy than a prince.
SPOILER ABOUT THE ENDING: I did not think the ending worked, but I'm not sure what I would have done differently. Instead of having Prospera say the epilogue, she had it sung over the closing credits. The film ended with Prospera throwing her staff off a cliff toward the sea, where it shatters on the rocky shore. It seemed an abrupt ending.
21 out of 41 people found the following review useful:
Lacklustre effort, 27 April 2011
Author: ihrtfilms from Australia
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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