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The Tempest [2010 film] by Julie Taymor

The Tempest [2010 film]

by Julie Taymor (Director/Screenwriter)

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The Tempest (2010)

Helen Mirren – Prospera
Felicity Jones – Miranda
Reeve Carney – Ferdinand
David Strathairn – Alonso
Tom Conti – Gonzalo
Alan Cumming – Sebastian
Chris Cooper – Antonio
Ben Whishaw – Ariel
Djimon Hounsou – Caliban
Russell Brand – Trinculo
Alfred Molina – Stephano

Adapted for the screen and directed by Julie Taymor.

Colour. 110 min.


I have just re-visited this movie in vain attempt to appreciate it. Nothing doing. It firmly remains a one-star mess.

Truth to tell, I am vastly disappointed with pretty much everything, and frankly I don't see why it is so highly praised. (Or is it really?) Perhaps the reason is that I don't think The Tempest is a great play. Far from it. It's a good play, it works fine as a light entertainment, but it's nothing more. It gives me the impression of something Shakespeare penned for fun, didn't take seriously at all, and left largely unfinished. But because it was presumably his last sole creation, it tends to be overrated for sentimental reasons.

But let that pass. Whatever its merits, or lack of such, The Tempest is definitely perfect for a visually spectacular movie that would make the best of its natural and supernatural wonders. And not only that. The screen also gives a marvellous opportunity for subtler delivery of the text and realizing the full dramatic potential of each scene. Shakespeare should be filmed more and acted live in the theatre less. It should be obvious by now that neither the poetry nor the characters need be simplified by the art of adaptation for the screen: there have been enough fine Shakespearean movies to prove that. And yet! This version of The Tempest is a complete failure at all fronts.

The cast is, to say the least, mediocre. Helen Mirren is certainly the best part of it, but that's because everybody else is nearly dismal. And she often sounds mechanical and indifferent too, which is too bad because her part contains some gorgeous poetry. Russell Brand and Alfred Molina are barely acceptable as Trinculo and Stephano; certainly there is a great deal of unrealised comic potential in their parts. Miranda and Ferdinand, I can never remember their real names, are so bland and lifeless that it’s painful to watch them. Ariel looks as if he/she/it should be in Planet of the Apes instead. Caliban is far too human and far too moronic to be credible.

Taymor's direction is chaotic, with abrupt changes of visual angles and lots of moving around in vain search of originality. Even the special effects are nothing really special: I certainly expected more from the tempest and the visions. The soundtrack is cheesy trash that often obscures the spoken parts – not exactly a desirable effect in Shakespeare. And that's not the end of drawbacks.

Why so many cuts when the play is so short? Why changing the gender of Prospero? Why making the island so ugly? Why transforming the epilogue into a song? Why sedate the whole crew before shooting? Why making the play even more boring than it is on paper? Why making this movie at all? Why waste time seeing it?

I haven't seen Taymor's Titus and I'd love to. But I do hope it is far superior to this messy "spectacle" and lacklustre "interpretation". Is it a coincidence that Taymor has again selected one of the Bard's less famous plays?* Hardly. I would venture the cynical hypothesis that this is her way to avoid stronger competition. Well, it doesn't work. Rather to the contrary indeed. A slight, undeveloped play like The Tempest needs more powerful and imaginative adaptation than usual. I haven't seen any other movie versions of it, but I don't need the dubious benefit of comparisons to tell you that this certainly is not it.


*Don't tell me how popular The Tempest is! It's never been half as popular as Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, Othello, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, Richard III or Much Ado About Nothing – to name but a few. And it never will be. ( )
1 vote Waldstein | Sep 24, 2017 |
good artistry
mirren, molina and cooper are excellent ( )
  wdjoyner | Aug 25, 2012 |
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» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Taymor, JulieDirector/Screenwriterprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brand, Russellsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cooper, Chrissecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cumming, Alansecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mirren, Helensecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Molina, Alfredsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shakespeare, WilliamOriginal playsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Strathairn, Davidsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0810996553, Hardcover)

The book of The Tempest is both a handsome edition of Julie Taymor’s eminently readable adaptation of Shakespeare’s play and a stunning visual narrative of her new film, which stars Helen Mirren as Prospera, the magician/alchemist in a bold, gender-switched realization.


One of Shakespeare’s greatest and most popular plays, The Tempest begs to be visualized by a master filmmaker. Taymor’s definitive film version combines romance and tragicomedy in one powerful story. She uses all of her considerable storytelling skills to make the action and atmosphere of the play come vividly to life. With an artist’s touch, she combines extraordinary locations with experimental visual effects to create the magic that suffuses this great work.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:40 -0400)

Este ebook presenta "La tempestad ", con un sumario dinmico y detallado. Es una obra de teatro de William Shakespeare. Fue representada por primera vez en 1611 en el Palacio de Whitehall de Londres. Prspero, duque legtimo de Miln, ha sido expulsado de su posicin por su hermano y se encuentra en una isla desierta tras naufragar su buque. La obra comienza con una fuerte tormenta, desatada por Ariel (a mandato de Prspero), cuando adivina que su hermano Antonio viaja en un buque cerca de la isla en la que se encuentra. En ella, Prspero cuenta con la compa?a de su hija Miranda y descansa con sus numerosos libros dedicndose al estudio y el conocimiento de la Magia. Prspero entra en contacto con espritus como Ariel. Con su ayuda, desde el caos y la locura, Prspero tejer un encantamiento que le permitir iniciar su venganza. Al final Prspero renunciar a su magia perdonando a sus enemigos y permitiendo el matrimonio entre su hija Miranda y Fernando. William Shakespeare ( 1564 - 1616)1 fue un dramaturgo, poeta y actor ingls. Conocido en ocasiones como el Bardo de Avon, Shakespeare es considerado el escritor ms importante en lengua inglesa y uno de los ms clebres de la literatura universal.… (more)

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