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Banished from his grand duchy by the King of Naples and his traitorous brother Sebastian, the Right Duke of Milan and Sorcerer Prospero finds refuge with his daughter Miranda to a forsaken island. But when unexpectedly Prospero's enemies approach, with the assistance of his airy spirit-servant, Ariel, he summons a mighty tempest, leading eventually the King to the isle and his son Ferdinand to the prison. As a result, Miranda and Ferdinand will fall in love, while at the same time, a few survivors of the shipwreck wander the desolate island with murderous intentions.Written by
The role of Prospero was originally intended for an older actor and John Gielgud was approached but declined. It was then offered to Terry-Thomas but his failing health caused him to turn it down. The character was then rewritten as a younger Prospero and Heathcote Williams was cast. See more »
Into this primordial mix, add some seventeenth century magic, and you have Shakespeare's "The Tempest", a play whose themes are: freedom, temperance, repentance, and forgiveness. The main difference between Shakespeare's play and Derek Jarman's film is, of course, the nearly four hundred years of change in theatrics that separate the two artists.
Jarman's version tries to adhere to the play, in that the film uses quasi-Elizabethan linguistics, which renders the dialogue difficult to understand. The play's intent is still intact in the film, if a little obscured by the language, and is conveyed mostly through the acting and the cinematography, though "adapted" in style to a more contemporary audience. Hence, the film's inventive finale features a vocal rendition of "Stormy Weather", a modern metaphor for a message that spans the ages.
Even with the updated visuals, this film is going to be a bit much for most viewers. It is just too out of sync with what modern audiences expect. On the other hand, for those few who appreciate Shakespeare, the film can be insightful, with the proviso that it is not "pure" (or literal) Shakespeare.
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