The Tempest: Taymor, Mirren, Irons

Just spotted this upcoming movie at Rotten Tomatoes: Julie Taymor adapts Shakespeare’s The Tempest, starring Helen Mirren, Djimon Hounsou, Jeremy Irons, Alfred Molina et al. I predict all-consuming awesomeness, the trailer is wonderfully insane. In theaters on 10th December.

I just saw this too. I’m definitely curious but I think the language will prevent a wide opening or success in general. Though I have no idea how much it cost or what their break even point would be.

I don’t think anyone actually expects a commercial success with a Shakespeare adaptation. That’s why I’m happy whenever they make one anyway!

I’m going to go on record here and say that you can’t have a Tempest where Prospero is a chick. That just wouldn’t work given the whole father/daughter dynamic in the-- Wait, who? Helen Mirren? Oh. Never mind.



Has anyone watched Prospero’s Books with John Gielgud as Prospero? Looking forward to this adaptation… Titus was pretty good.

This looks hilariously bad, which is not surprising considering the buzz on this thing.

hi Chris Nahr,…
nice sharing,…nice movie nice to watch,…

See, I said the movie’s going to be awesome – Alex already hates it!

Wow… That trailer is something alright!

Oh fuck. I haven’t been this excited for a movie in years.

Barring Frida, she is the theater geek’s Zach Snyder.

Apparently the film is so good that when Disney–who was in the middle of attempting to sell Miramax and offload its forthcoming slate–held a screening for acquisitions types at a film festival earlier this year, everyone walked out before the film was over. It’s not terribly surprising given this film’s critical reception so far–and the fact that her last film was one of the worst movies of the last decade…

Review one

That is evidently not a view shared by one Julie Taymor, whose murky, lunk-headed and signally boring new film tricks out Shakespeare’s text with gaudy CGI saturation, a wardrobe from “Zoolander”‘s Derelicte collection and a key sex change in the lead, as sorcerer and doting father Prospero here morphs into Helen Mirren’s Prospera, a highbrow voodoo priestess of sorts with a permanent Patty Hewes-style scowl.
Review two

It’s only after you’ve been watching the movie for a few minutes, after you take in the changes in the character (if you’re a Shakespeare fan or graduated with a Literary Studies degree), that the momentary thrill subsides and then vanishes altogether. The reason all the hype is centered around this slightly oddball casting decision is because there’s nothing else to sell the rest of “The Tempest” on.

Which is to say: “The Tempest” is bad. Like, really, really bad.

But it does have a nice title card: large, crisp font, taking up much of the screen, superimposed over the arresting, surreal image of a tiny sandcastle in the palm of a young girl’s hand. But once this image is gone, and it’s gone fairly quickly, the goofy overwrought nightmare that is “The Tempest” consumes you.

Bogglingly, “The Tempest” is the “Centerpiece Film” at the New York Film Festival and closed out Venice earlier this year and is being groomed by some as an Oscar heavyweight, once it opens in December. It’s absolute absurd to think this, and we’re quick to peg it as this year’s “Nine:” a movie that seems to have prestige written all over it, until people actually see it. Or, in the words of the Bard: “the past is prologue.”
Review three.

Taymor, on the other hand, has both of those things, along with a coterie of talented actors willing to undergo her crazy journey and far too many wrong-headed ideas about how to make Shakespeare interesting and accessible to a modern audience. Subbing in visual spectacle and name-brand stars for actual engagement with the text or the audience, The Tempest is as noisy and frantic as the storm of the title, but with virtually nothing to add to the Shakespeare’s original, beguiling work.

But the various plots of Taymor’s The Tempest simply happen as if the camera had nowhere else to be; for all her flights into physical comedy and surreal CGI-aided fantasy, Taymor’s storytelling never amounts to more than a rote recounting of the scenes in order. The weird happenings of The Tempest, from Prospera’s sorcery to the existence of the sprite Ariel (Ben Whishaw), naturally feel grounded on the stage, embodied by actors and physical props sharing the audience’s space; thrown up on the screen at a remove, it all seems silly and slightly meaningless.
Review four.

Julie Taymor’s new film version of The Tempest isn’t as disastrous as it could have been, though it does fundamentally fail Shakespeare’s play.
Review five.

Admittedly, though, Wishaw is often one of the most watchable things in The Tempest. But is that necessarily a good thing? Sadly, the film’s emphasis on “watchable” bits is what ultimately helps devolve it from its sublime source material to mere opportunistic spectacle. Indeed, so intent is she on delivering highbrow eye-candy, Taymor–whom it’s hard to deny is gifted when it comes to a certain kind of visual expressiveness–ends up using Shakespeare as a platform for an oddly respectful form of self-indulgence. Yes, the text here is still, basically, Shakespeare, but that’s rather like saying that Across the Universe is a Beatles movie.…

But unfortunately The Tempest draws upon the strengths of its medium in such a shallow way that the end result is a decidedly middlebrow entertainment masquerading as an edgy new “vision.” So go ahead and enjoy the performances of Tom Conti and Chris Cooper and Felicity Jones, and/or several of the others, but know also that you can safely wait until the film’s home video release to do so.

Et cetera.

I’m going to assume they are contractually obligated for Oscar season release and campaign. After this likely flop, Taymor will be very lucky to have a career at all.

I would consider myself a Taymor fanboy, and well… I don’t think that one flop is going to cost her career, because, you know… she created what has probably been one of the most critically acclaimed and successful musicals of all time.

Also, I wonder how different this is from her production of “The Tempest” for the stage.

With unerring accuracy, Alex finds reviewers as clueless as himself. “Goofy overwrought nightmare” and “highbrow eye-candy” are supposed to be damning criticism? That’s exactly what fans of Titus expect! A movie that only two of these five reviews even mention in passing, by the way.

Well, it definitely looks like they’ll put the comedy in Shakespearian Comedy: