Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Tempest

This afternoon I saw Julie Taymor's movie version of The Tempest. The big attraction here is Helen Mirren cast as a female Prospero. Ms. Mirren's performance is never less than commanding. She is both very clear & very nuanced. Sometimes 2 or 3 emotions move across her face within a single brief shot. Because of the level of her performance & her character's general isolation, she seems to be in a different movie than the rest of the cast. She is even disconnected from Ariel, who is often a superimposed CGI image.

The film looks like it was shot under severe budgetary constraints, though the location shots on Hawaii are stark & beautiful. There are cuts in the dialogue, but the plot has not been tampered with. They even inserted a song from Twelfth Night & a song for Ferdinand, which I suppose replaces the masque in some way. I regret that Ms. Taymor hid Prospero's famous epilogue in a song that plays over the closing credits.

The movie is full of visual confections. Much is made of the clothes for the Italian courtiers, which have more zippers than Michael Jackson's leather jacket. Caliban's face is both black & white, & his body is covered in cracked earth. Ariel is impressively scary when transformed into a screeching harpy, dripping black sweat. My favorite moment, though, was Ms. Mirren's unfussy recitation of "Our revels now are ended." It felt completely Shakespearean.

§ The Tempest
A Film by Julie Taymor


Civic Center said...

And I saw "Tron: Legacy" at Pixar this afternoon. It made me want to leave the human race.

Axel Feldheim said...

Oh dear. I guess it's better to be stranded on a volcanic island with Caliban than to get sucked into a computer & forced to play games.