Reviewsday: Julie Taymor’s The Tempest

Julie Taymor’s movie of Shakespeare’s The Tempest (widely thought to be the last play written solely by the Bard) is CGI Shakespeare. LSD Shakespeare. ADD Shakespeare.

I loved Helen Mirren as “Prospera,” changed from Shakespeare’s male Prospero. Felicity Jones was a perfect Miranda, and the roles of King Alonso (David Strathairn), Antonio (Chris Cooper), and Sebastian (Alan Cumming) were likewise well cast and excellently acted.

It was a lush, enjoyable Tempest, though at times the CGI elements looked too much like a poor Photoshop job and The Tempest’s great potential for comedy was surprisingly neglected by Ben Whishaw’s Ariel, Djimoun Hounsou’s Caliban, and (especially) Alfred Molina’s Stephano and Russell Brand’s Trinculo. I was fascinated to see Act IV’s masque scene (with Juno, Ceres, Iris, nymphs, and reapers) turned into a wordless celestial sequence, which caused the famous “Our revels now are ended” soliloquy to lose its relevance and power. And likewise the epilogue (“Now my charms are all o’erthrown”) was presented during the credits as a song (music by Eliot Goldenthal, sung by Beth Gibbons of Portishead), which made sense since that speech also loses its context in the transition from a stage play to a movie.

The whole movie is available on YouTube.

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About writerhoss

I am a writer from southwestern Ohio, and a frequent speaker at churches, conferences, and retreats. My books include The Bard and the Bible (A Shakespeare Devotional).
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