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The Tempest-The Movie October 11, 2011 12:00 AM | Tagged as Helen Mirren, Shakespeare, The Tempest
**A quick reminder about our October contest drawing to win a free silver charm bracelet and charm of your choice. See the details on the October 7th 2011 post below! 

 

The Tempest-The Movie

Two years ago, when I first heard that a movie version of The Tempest was in production and that the lead role of Prospero was being changed from a male role to that of Prospera, a female role, I was VERY skeptical. THEN I heard that Helen Mirren was to play the role of Prospera and I thought “Oh, ok that makes sense”! She is an amazing actress and she can pull this off ... and I wasn’t wrong! This movie was directed by Julie Taymor who also directed Titus, (Titus Andronicus) in 1999, among other movies. 

 

 

The Tempest never made it to theaters in the Phoenix, AZ area so I had to wait for the DVD to be released.  That was a VERY long wait from when I first heard about this project, but it was worth the wait. 

The original story of The Tempest is about a Prospero, the Duke of Milan, a man has his power usurped from him by his brother Antonio. Prospero, with his young daughter Miranda, are left to die on a raft but end up surviving because of provisions and his books which were given to them by Gonzalo, a servant. Prospero and Milan arrive on an island and stay there for twelve years. In this version the role of Prospero has been changed to a female, Prospera, played by Mirren, who upon the death her husband the Duke, has been sent away to the island. 

As the movie opens, we are witness to a ship and its inhabitants which include Alsonso (David Strathairn), Ferdinand (Reeve Carney), Sebastian (Alan Cumming), Antonio (Chris Cooper), Gonzalo(Tom Conti), Stephano (Alfred Molina), and Trinculo (Russell Brand).  They are returning to Naples after attending the wedding of Alonso’s daughter, and their ship is about to sink due to a terrible storm.  The storm has been caused by the sorcery of Prospera, with the help of her spirit “slave”, Ariel (Ben Whishaw). 

After the ship has wrecked near the shore, we see Miranda with her mother looking at the disabled ship and asking her mother to help the people if she can. Prospera then tells her the truth about how they came to be on the island and how fate has given her an opportunity for vengeance against Antonio who banished her from Milan. The spirit Ariel makes sure that shipwreck victims make it safely to the island where they become separated into different groups, not aware of who has and has not survived the wreck. 

The rest of the movie covers each of the various groups and their adventures and escapades on the island. One interesting character is Caliban (Djimon Hounsou) the slave, who tries to get Stephano and Trinculo to help him get rid of Prospera who he feels has taken control of "his" island from him. Others include Alonso, King of Naples, and Sebastian, Antonio and Gonzalo who eventually, through the planning of Prospera and the help of the spirit Ariel, confront each other and the truth of Prospera’s situation is revealed. 

Mirren is outstanding as Prospera, which isn’t at all surprising. Felicity Jones, (Northanger Abbey) is innocent and luminescent as Miranda. The love story between Miranda and Stephano is sweet. I have always felt sorry for Caliban in this play and the movie is not any different. I was looking forward to seeing Djimon Hounsou but I really had a hard time understanding what he was saying. I had seen him in other movies, my favorite being In America, and he was wonderful in that one.  However, I just couldn’t understand half of what he said in The Tempest. 

I loved the way Ariel was portrayed by Whishaw (see photo above, right). Having the advantages of modern film making technology helps to make the character of Ariel more magical. This movie has it all: betrayal, revenge, magic, sorcery, love and forgiveness. 
It also has many great and quotable lines, my favorite being; “My library was dukedom large enough”(a1s2-109/110)
Try to find this movie and just sit back and enjoy the magic, conflict and romance of a great story!