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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 09.15.10] movie news comedy drama adaptation



It amuses me that both the media and fans alike appear surprised when they see images and footage from a Julie Taymour film. If it were any other director with three films under his or her belt, one might consider the surprise an expected response but Taymour has never made a conventional film or one that lacked in spectacular visuals. She came running out the gate with a bloody adaptation of Titus and has been following up, every five years or so, with a new eye popping project. Her most recent is no exception.

For her second go at Shakespeare, Taymor has made a few slight changes and brought us The Tempest. I’m not sure how some of the changes Taymor has made have changed the story but The Tempest is, essentially, a tale of romance wrapped in magic and adventure, with Prospera (Helen Mirren) plotting to restore her daughter (Felicity Jones) to her title by conjuring up a storm that will drag in her usurping brother Antonio (Chris Cooper) and his partner in crime King Alonso of Naples (David Strathairn) to the island where she will then exact her revenge, bring about the King’s redemption and marry off her daughter to Alonso’s son Ferdinand (Reeve Carney).


This has never been one of my favourite of Shakespeare’s plays but it certainly has it’s moments of comedy and drama and I had expected that Taymour would deliver, if nothing else, a jaw droppingly gorgeous film. The first images suggested as much as do the first bits of video but not everyone is sold on Taymour’s adaptation and reactions so far have been mixed.

Though everyone agrees that the performances are mostly great with a few missteps, some are more open to the idea of a “mainstream” Shakespeare adaptation than others. The Telegraph calls the film “solidly entertaining” and “vibrant and colourful” while Variety calls it “intellectually undernourished” and continues to say that it is “so kitchy, yet curiously drab and banal, even supporters may hope she’ll [Taymour] break her staff and drown her book.” THR comes in somewhere in the middle with the bottom line that this is “a popular version of Shakespeare [which] lacks the magical Taymor touch.”

I’ve learned my lesson over the years and come to realize that when it comes to Taymour, I tend to like her films even when they are poorly received (case in point: Across the Universe which I avoided like the plague yet loved when I eventually caught up with it on DVD). This new footage, which is intercut with an interview with Dame Mirren, suggests, to me at least, that this is not one to be missed.

For now, the clips can be seen at Bleeding Cool.

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WPW (10 years ago) Reply

The Tempest is concerned with the relationships between art and nature, the noble and the primitive, language and silence. I hope Taymor has managed to stress a little of the richness of Shakespeare (impossible to do it all, especially in the conservative medium of film). I think you'll find the Variety quotation refers to Prospera rather than Taymor. And "Dame Helen", not "Dame Mirren". Thanks for the post.


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