Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Shakespeare Study: The Tempest (Part 2: Films and Television)

Well, my three-year Shakespeare study is almost finished. I've been reading one play each month, and then watching as many film versions as I can get my hands on, and reading as many books about the play as I'm able. January 2013, the 37th month of my study, was The Tempest. I've divided this month's fun into two blog entries: one for books, and one for film.

Film Versions:
- The Tempest  (1980) with Michael Horden, Pippa Guard, David Dixon, Warren Clarke, David Waller, John Nettleton, Derek Godfrey, Nigel Hawthorne, Andrew Sachs; directed by John Gorrie. This production boasts some really good performances, as well as some good sets. The opening scene, with the storm, is impressive, with a believable boat set and rain. However, the rain makes some of the dialogue difficult to hear. We’re introduced to Prospero (Michael Horden) with him standing in black robes on the edge of a cliff. I like Miranda’s reading of “Sir, are not you my father?” Miranda (Pippa Guard) is completely attentive, kneeling at Prospero’s feet, when Prospero keeps asking “Dost thou attend me?” and “thou attend’st not?” Ariel (David Dixon) is a nearly naked blond golden boy. He first appears behind Prospero when he summons him. He strikes several odd poses throughout his performances. When Prospero asks him “Dost thou forget/From what a torment I did free thee?” Ariel turns away, as if remembering and trying not to remember, and quickly says “No.” His reading of that line is great and funny. He gives a similar reading when answering “No” to Prospero’s “Hast thou forgot her?” (though the line in the play is “No, sir”). Caliban (Warren Clarke) is hairy beast of a man, and is more than a bit whiny in his first couple of speeches. Miranda correctly has the speech, “Abhorred slave,/Which any print of goodness will not take…,” which many editors assign to Prospero. Ariel appears and disappears while singing to Ferdinand (Christopher Guard). Prospero’s asides are spoken to himself rather than to the camera, to the audience.
Act II Scene ii is done really well, and both Trinculo (Andrew Sachs) and Stephano (Nigel Hawthorne) are quite funny. I love Stephano’s delivery of “I have not ‘scaped drowning to be afeard now of your four legs.” He first sounds brave, but then notices the legs and pauses before “four legs,” as if re-thinking his initial bravery. And then is definitely frightened when what seems like a monster calls out his name. You really get the sense that Stephano might vomit when he says, “Prithee do not turn me about – my stomach is not constant.” And Caliban’s joy at finding a new master is hilarious.
In Act III, Ferdinand’s speech about his labors and his mistress is delivered to himself, not to the camera, which is a weaker choice. When Prospero looks on as Miranda and Ferdinand speak, he holds a large book. Ferdinand (Christopher Guard) comes off as the dullest character. He delivers his lines with a serious tone and without much joy or excitement. And again, Prospero’s lines at the end of the scene are spoken to himself rather than to us, and again it seems the weaker choice.  In Scene ii, it is Trinculo, not Stephano, who is incredibly drunk. And Trinculo goes a bit overboard in his drunkenness, and becomes a bit annoying, particularly during the section when Ariel says “Thou liest.” At the end of the scene, we actually do see Stephano and Trinculo fall into the pool. In Scene iii when Ariel appears to make the banquet disappear, he sports great wings.
In Act IV, Prospero’s line “No tongue” almost seems to stop Ferdinand and Miranda from kissing, which is silly – though it is simply the way they are positioned as they are about to whisper to one another. The dialogue between Iris and Ceres is completely cut, and instead they go right into their song, which is presented in the style of opera. Iris then sings her next speech, “You nymphs, call’d naiads…” The dance that follows is pretty, but not well lit. I love the look Caliban has as he watches Trinculo and Stephano and realizes they’re wasting time and aren’t going to kill Prospero.
In Act V, I love Ariel’s delivery of “Mine would, sir, were I human.” After Prospero says, “when I have requir’d/Some heavenly music,” music begins to play. Prospero’s line “Fetch me the hat and rapier in my cell” is cut. Prospero uses magic to make Ferdinand and Miranda suddenly visible to Alonso. Miranda is wonderful when she sees the other men and says, “O wonder!/How many goodly creatures are there here!  Prospero does deliver the epilogue directly to the camera, to the audience. He begins it with the line, “Please you, draw near,” after removing his hat.  (time: 124 minutes) 

- Tempest (1982) with John Cassavetes, Gena Rowlands, Susan Sarandon, Molly Ringwald, Raul Julia, Vittorio Gassman; written by Paul Mazursky and Leon Capetanos; directed by Paul Mazursky. This modern adaptation does not begin with the storm, but with Phillip (John Cassavetes in the Prospero role) asleep on his island. Aretha (Susan Sarandon) is his companion on the island, and so is closest to the Ariel role. His daughter, Miranda (Molly Ringwald), comes out of the old building they use as a home carrying a boom box playing “Whip It.”  Miranda is fifteen, as she is in the play, and is refreshingly played by someone who is actually around that age. Miranda goes swimming, and is spied on by Kalibanos (Raul Julia in the Caliban role).
We then get a flashback to Phillip in the city, something the play does not do. Also, the flashback is only to eighteen months earlier, not twelve years, which is how long Prospero has been on the island. We learn that Phillip is an architect, and that he works for Alonzo (Vittorio Gassman in the Alonso role). We meet Antonia (Gena Rowlands), Phillip’s wife, a character that is not in the play. (Though it is interesting that she is named Antonia, as Prospero’s brother is named Antonio, and Antonia betrays Phillip in the film.) We are also introduced to other employees of Alonzo – Sebastian, Alonzo’s private doctor (who, though is named after one character in the play, seems to function more as another character, Stephano), Trinc, the “resident comedian” (obviously the Trinculo character), and Harry (Jerry Hardin), who might be closest to the Gonzalo character. Phillip wants to quit his job and wander. After he comes home drunk one night and makes an ass of himself, there is a storm. And it’s like he’s calling the shots, deciding when the lightning will strike. He says, to the storm, “Show me the magic.” And lightning strikes immediately.
Soon we’re back on the island, with Phillip building an outdoor theatre with Kalibanos, Miranda and Aretha. This is interesting, as his wife was a stage actor, and he didn’t seem all that involved in her work. It’s interesting also because Prospero is like a stage director. Kalibanos lures Miranda to his cave with the promise of a television, and then flirts with her. He kisses her arm, but does not try to rape her.
Back in the city, Phillip and Miranda see Antonia getting into Alonzo’s car. Antonia wants a divorce, and Phillip decides to go to Greece and to take Miranda with him as it’s her summer vacation. In Greece, they meet Aretha. One night she sings in a club, and Alonzo and Antonia and Alonzo’s gang arrive to take Miranda back. Phillip, Aretha and Miranda decide to sail to an island to avoid them. This, of course, is quite different from the play. When they arrive on the island, Kalibanos is its only inhabitant.
In the present, Aretha shouts, “I’m tired of being a prisoner,” because she has to do so much work on the island for a man who is practicing celibacy. There is a moment when Phillip sees Miranda and thinks she’s his wife. He then tries to make her dance with him. Could this be a hint at the incest that some critics see in the play? Miranda tells him she hates it on the island. There is a great (and completely pointless) scene where Kalibanos entertains his goats. Seriously, it’s fantastic.  When Phillip learns that Kalibanos kissed Miranda, he becomes angry and feels betrayed, telling Kalibanos he had helped him. Kalibanos replies, “I was boss before you show up.” Phillip says, “I taught you how to read. I taught you how to count.” This scene is close to the play, Act I Scene ii.
Then we see Alonzo’s yacht sailing close to the island. Freddy (Sam Robards in the Ferdinand role) goes scuba diving, and meets Miranda underwater. She shows him the island. When Phillip sees the boat offshore, he says, “Show me the magic.” And soon the weather changes, and the storm comes – nearly two hours into the film. But he doesn’t cause the storm in order to bring a suitable mate for Miranda, as in the play. In fact, he doesn’t even know Freddy was on the boat. And besides, Freddy and Miranda have already met. In this adaptation, it seems he causes the storm in order to kill – or at least harm – Alonzo and his wife. Then he changes his mind, stops the storm, and rushes into the water to save them.
Trinc and Dr. Sebastian wander into Kalibanos’ cave. Kalibanos (for no understandable reason) puts a dead octopus on his head. Trinc says, “It’s a fish in drag.” So this is sort of like Act II Scene ii. Freddy and Miranda kiss. Phillip kills a goat. And there is some dancing. Aretha tells Phillip, “It’s time to forgive,” as Ariel sort of tells Prospero in Act V. Phillip, Antonia and Miranda go back to New York, and Phillip winks at the camera (the only aside in this film). And then the actors take a curtain call. Yes, this film is kind of a mess (for example, nothing ever happens with the theatre he was building), but it’s often enjoyable. By the way, there is also a Macbeth reference in this film. (time: 142 minutes)

- The Tempest  (1979) with Heathcote Williams, Toyah Willcox, Karl Johnson, Jack Birkett, David Meyer, Christopher Biggins, Richard Warwick, Peter Bull; directed by Derek Jarman.  This is a truly interesting production, though there is a lot of re-ordering of scenes. The first scene is done as odd whispering, like a nightmare, with flashes to the boat in the storm. We hear sounds of eerie winds as Prospero (Heathcote Williams) awakes. (This is a fairly young Prospero, a man in his late thirties.) Miranda (Toyah Willcox) then awakes elsewhere in the castle. (Yes, they have a nice, big mansion on this island. Where did all the furnishings come from? Certainly Gonzalo didn’t sneak it all onto Prospero’s boat.) The first real line of the film is “Come away, servant, I am ready for you now. Come away, my Ariel.” He has to ask for Ariel several times before Ariel arrives. Ariel (Karl Johnson) is first a quiet whisper, not visible. Then he appears, dressed in white, and in white makeup. He speaks very seriously. It’s a creepy atmosphere, like that of a ghost story. Caliban (Jack Birkett) is bald man, introduced seated by a fire. Miranda sneaks by him, and he laughs wildly. Miranda’s first line is “Tis a villain, sir, I do not like to look on” (yes, she says “like” instead of “love”). Then we go back to earlier in the scene when Prospero asks Miranda if she can remember back before they arrived onto this cell. Caliban is great, and is really funny on “I must eat my dinner,” and then is so sad on “I am all the subjects that you have.” When Prospero speaks to Caliban, the shots are from Caliban’s perspective, as if we are Caliban. Miranda sticks out her tongue at Caliban, teasing him (so she’s a different sort of Miranda then the sweet innocent girl we often see). When Prospero puts Miranda to sleep, she is in her bed, so it doesn’t feel too strongly like magic. Ariel’s “Is there more toil?” leads directly to “What shall I do,” thus cutting all of the dialogue about his freedom. And these lines have an odd echo to them.
Ferdinand is naked as he comes out of the ocean. Ariel is seated on some beach grass while doing his song. It’s done more to himself than to Ferdinand. Ferdinand’s lines are done as voice over as he too sits on some beach grass. Ferdinand goes to the castle and sits by the fire. The shot of him after he’s entered is wonderful. As he curls asleep by the fire, the film cuts to Caliban elsewhere by a fire – as if to invite us to compare the two. And then there is a third shot of a fireplace, this one of Miranda, washing herself in a tub next to the fire. Soon Caliban comes in. In this version, he does actually seem to be something of a danger to her, something of a threat.
Prospero, Ariel and Miranda enter the room where Ferdinand sleeps. So Miranda’s first lines about him are spoken while he’s asleep. But soon he wakes, and as soon as he does, Prospero speaks his lines about him being a traitor. The shot of Ferdinand naked on the far left side of the screen is excellent. Prospero is in the middle. Caliban is at the far right, and says, “Beat him enough! After a little time I’ll beat him too” (though in the play this line comes later and is spoken to Stephano regarding Trinculo, not to Prospero regarding Ferdinand). Then it goes to lines from Act III Scene I, though Caliban is still there – which doesn’t exactly make sense because in the play Ferdinand acts almost like a replacement for Caliban, carrying the logs Caliban was supposed to fetch. Then Prospero tells Miranda to “Come, follow.”
Soon we go to Act II Scene I, and see Alonso, Sebastian, Antonio and Gonzalo arriving on shore from a small row boat. (Adrian and Francisco are cut from this production.) Alonso and Gonzalo go to sleep seemingly of their own accord, not by any magic. Ariel is not in sight until a bit later, until he wakes Gonzalo and Alonso. That they are on a beach makes Antonio’s line about a herd of lions even more absurd.
The film then goes back to Act I Scene ii, with Miranda’s line “You have often/Begun to tell me what I am, but stopp’d.” Sadly, Miranda’s wonderful line “Sir, are not you my father” is cut. Instead she goes right to the “foul play” line, again showing that this Miranda is not as innocent. When Miranda says her line about her being trouble then, Prospero shows her a scene of the two of them through a magic staff. After “auspicious star,” we go to Act II Scene ii, though oddly Stephano and Trinculo enter together, and follow Caliban’s footsteps on the beach. Caliban is seriously hilarious when he says, “I’ll fall flat/Perchance he will not mind me.” He indeed falls flat, straight into the sand. But because Stephano and Trinculo find him together, quite a bit of the humor of the scene is lost.
Then the film goes to Gonzalo’s description of the ideal commonwealth from Act II Scene i. And then Caliban leads Stephano and Trinculo into the castle, telling them to take Prospero’s books and kill him. We then return to Act III Scene I with Ferdinand chopping logs. Interestingly, after he and Miranda talk, Ferdinand then does his monologue which ordinarily opens the scene. There is a strange moment when Prospero seems to be rehearsing a line: “Let me remember thee what thou hast promis’d/Which is not yet performed me” (from Act I Scene ii). And then Ariel asks for his liberty. A strange order, for we’ve already heard Prospero tell him he’ll be free. During their conversation, we see Sycorax, and in that scene Caliban is sucking on her teat (though he is an adult, not a child), and Ariel is naked on a chain pulled by Sycorax.
We then go to Caliban growing annoyed with Stephano and Trinculo. Ariel and Prospero do the dog barking that frightens Stephano and Trinculo. As Alonso and company nearly reach the castle, it is then Alonso sits down, giving up his search for his son (with the castle in the shot in the background). That doesn’t make sense, for wouldn’t he think his son might have sought shelter there? And then they’re next seen entering the castle, but without any lines about resuming the search. The blocking of the scene when Ariel enters is weird because the four men are split two and two rather than three and one, so Ariel’s line about them being “three men of sin” seems like an error.

Prospero tells Ariel to bring the mariners to the castle, where they perform a weird dance. And seeing this is what leads Miranda to say her “brave new world” line. It’s a deliciously silly scene. They disperse, and Alonso and the others awake to see Prospero, Ferdinand and Miranda (Ferdinand and Miranda are no longer playing chess). Stephano, Trinculo and Caliban then enter. Soon Elisabeth Welch (credited as “A Goddess”) enters and sings “Stormy Weather,” and somehow it totally works. And then everyone is gone, but Prospero and Ariel. Ariel sings his “bee sucks” song. Ariel exits, and Prospero’s famous speech (“Our revels now are ended…”) is done as voice over as we see Prospero asleep. The last line of this version is “and our little life/Is rounded with a sleep.” (time: 95 minutes)

- The Tempest  (1983) with Efram Zimbalist Jr., William H. Bassett, Ted Sorel, Kay E. Kuter, Edward Edwards, Nicholas Hammond, J.E. Taylor, Duane Black, William Hootkins, Ron Palillo, David Graf; directed by William Woodman. This film is Volume IX of a nine-play series titled The Plays Of William Shakespeare. It is presented on a stage, but without an audience. This film opens with Prospero (Efram Zimbalist, Jr.) controlling the storm, then pushes in on the boat, which is upstage. Miranda (J.E. Taylor) has way too much makeup on, particularly around her eyes, which works against her innocence. And she looks much older than fifteen. She is seated and attentive when Prospero keeps asking if she’s listening. Prospero puts on his magic garment again before calling Ariel (but has a bit of trouble finding the second sleeve). Ariel (Duane Black) appears upstage behind Prospero, and is a nearly naked man with white spiky hair. Ariel cowers a bit when Prospero says, “Thou liest, malignant thing.” Caliban (William Hootkins) comes climbing up from beneath the stage. We see his hand first. He is a large, bearded man in tattered clothing and messy hair. He is strong and deliberate, knowing, on “For I am all the subjects that you have.” When Ariel stops his song, he then goes behind Ferdinand to watch him. On Ferdinand’s “it hath drawn me rather,” Ariel pulls him backwards as if on an invisible tether.

In Act II Francisco is cut, and his role combined with that of Adrian (Mark Pinter). After Gonzalo’s “And women too,” Sebastian (Edward Edwards) makes a sly sound which leads to Gonzalo (Kay E. Kuter) to add, “but innocent and pure,” which he directs toward Sebastian and Antonio (Ted Sorel). Gonzalo and Adrian fall asleep straight away, but it takes Ariel much more effort and time to make Alonso (William H. Bassett) fall asleep. It’s a really nice touch. Trinculo (Ron Palillo) wears a traditional jester outfit, including shoes with upturned toes. When he says, “suffered by,” there is a clap of thunder which gives him the thought to finish his sentence: “a thunderbolt.” (In the play, the thunder comes after he says  “thunderbolt.”) When Trinculo hides under Caliban’s clothing, Caliban looks up for a moment, confused. After Stephano’s song, Caliban delivers his line, then tries to creep away, which causes Trinculo to move too. When Caliban says “and thy dog,” he indicates Trinculo, which causes Trinculo to pout.

At the beginning of Act III, Ferdinand’s speech is spoken to himself, not to the camera, to us. When Caliban says, “Let me lick thy shoe,” Trinculo sticks out his leg, leading Caliban to say, “I’ll not serve him.” Ariel enters just after this, earlier than is indicated in the text. So then when Stephano says “I will stand and so shall Trinculo,” Ariel is there to push Trinculo down again, which of course confuses him. The camera moves in on Caliban during his famous poetic speech. The food on the table is suddenly replaced with three skulls, and Ariel appears above to say “You are three men of sin.”

In Act IV, Ceres’ speech “Tell me, heavenly bow…” is cut, as is the following speech by Iris (“Of her society/Be not afraid…”). Iris is given some of Ceres’ lines in the song. Prospero’s speech, “Sweet now, silence” is cut. So too is cut Iris’ “You nymphs, call’d naiads…” speech. Prospero says “Avoid! no more” before “I had forgot that foul conspiracy.” During Prospero’s speech (“A devil, a born devil…”) we see Ariel behind him setting out the clothes for Stephano and Trinculo. Both Ariel and Prospero watch the scene when they take the clothing.

In Act V, on Prospero’s “Their understanding/Begins to swell,” Antonio begins to move, relaxing his arm, and turning slightly toward Prospero. It seems a mistake, for the others remain frozen. Ferdinand and Miranda are pulled out on a platform, upon which they are seated, playing chess. Prospero says, “Your royal fleet far off,” then “Pray you, draw near,” which prompts most of the characters to go inside. (In the text, the line is “Please you, draw near,” and it comes after his lines to Ariel.) Prospero steps forward, and speaks the epilogue directly to us. (time: 128 minutes)

By the way, on the paper insert in the DVD case, it says “Staged as seen in the 16th Century,” which is interesting as this play wasn’t written until early in the 17th century.

- The Tempest  (2010) with Helen Mirren, Djimon Hounsou, Russell Brand, Felicity Jones, Reeve Carney, Tom Conti, Chris Cooper, Alan Cumming, Alfred Molina, David Strathairn, Ben Whishaw; screenplay by Julie Taymor; directed by Julie Taymor. It is baffling to me that Julie Taymor continues to tackle Shakespeare, because she clearly doesn’t understand these plays. She made mistakes with Titus, and she makes several mistakes with The Tempest. This version cut out several characters, and basically all of the joy and fun has been sucked out of the play. This film has a good cast, but these actors aren’t used well. This version begins with Miranda (Felicity Jones) holding a sand castle in her hand and then looking out to see the ship in the storm. Then we go to the boat, and then to Prospero on the edge of a cliff. Except in this version it’s Prospera (Helen Mirren), as for some reason Julie Taymor has changed him into a woman. And so Miranda’s first line is “If by your art, my dearest mother.” We then move into their cell for the rest of their conversation. Prospera says, “Thy mother held the dukedom of Milan and its princely power,” leading Miranda to ask, “But are not you my mother?” These are two of the many lines changed because of the gender switch. But why make Prospero a woman? What reason is there? In this version Miranda is looking away when Prospera says, “Thou attendest not.” And then Julie Taymor starts making up shit, giving Prospera lines like, “His sister, a practicer of the black arts. A demon, not a woman. Nay, a witch. And he full knowing that others of my sex have burned for no less.” And that’s how Antonio got Prospera’s counselors to turn against her. (Having Prospera referred to as a witch presents problems, of course, particularly in light of the later mention of Sycorax.) While Prospera tells the tale, we see bits of flashbacks to Prospera and Miranda being taken, and then in the little boat. Prospera kneels by a pool when calling Ariel (Ben Whishaw). And then he appears in it, a naked younger man. As he describes what he did, we see ridiculous footage of a giant Ariel tormenting the boat while bad music plays. And then we see the men emerging from the ocean. On “this sad knot,” we see Ferdinand seated thus rather than Ariel imitating him. And when Prospera recounts Ariel’s past, we see him suddenly enclosed in a tree. Visuals like that are unnecessary. Let the language tell the story. When Prospera says, “Go! Hence with diligence,” we have a shot of Ariel flying up into the clouds. (All of the shots of Ariel flying or running are terrible.) Caliban (Djimon Hounsou) is out by the cliff. He’s a black man, oddly painted. His line “I must eat my dinner” is given before he emerges. Caliban is presented as very serious, and being black, makes us feel for him as a real slave, makes us feel he’s been wronged (something it seems Shakespeare did not intend). Ariel’s image is superimposed on shots of Ferdinand (Reeve Carney) looking around. Obviously, it’s easy to do that on film. But it’s much more playful to have Ariel present and have Ferdinand simply unable to see him (though we the audience can, and therein is the fun). And because Prospera is a woman, Miranda says, “the second man that ere I saw” rather than “the third.” Julie Taymor doesn’t understand Shakespeare, for when Prospera tells Ferdinand to put his sword up, it is then that he draws it. But that’s not at all what it means – it means exactly the opposite; it means put your sword away. Prospera isn’t challenging Ferdinand to a duel here. And Taymor should know that. I’m surprised Helen Mirren didn’t correct her.
In Act II, Adrian and Francisco are completely cut. The lines about the wager are cut. Gonzalo (Tom Conti) speaks some of Adrian’s lines, such as “The air breathes upon us here most sweetly.” All the joking about the “widow Dido” is cut. Antonio (Chris Cooper) speaks Francisco’s lines, “Sir, he may live…” After Antonio’s “Very foul,” we go to Scene ii with Caliban carrying sticks. He is very angry. Trinculo (Russell Brand) trips over Caliban. This scene should be funny, but it isn’t. Not at all. And it’s made worse by the music which suddenly comes up during Trinculo’s lines as if he’s in a cafĂ© in the 1950s reading beat poetry. What the fuck? And Russell Brand is a terrible Trinculo. When Stephano (Alfred Molina) approaches, he trips and says “Oh, fuck,” something obviously not in the play. Alfred Molina is pretty good as Stephano. Caliban doesn’t kiss Stephano’s foot in this version, though the lines about it are left in. And he’s kind of creepy, rather than sad and desperate and funny.
In Act III, the first lines of Ferdinand’s speech are cut. The first line he speaks is “This my mean task.” He speaks to himself, not to us. Prospera’s line “Poor worm, thou art infected…” is moved to after Ferdinand says, “What’s dearest to the world.” And again, because Prospera is a woman, Miranda’s lines are changed. She says, “I know only one more of my sex, no young woman’s face remember, save from my glass mine own.” That’s not nearly as strong as the text’s “I do not know/One of my sex, no woman’s face remember/Save from my glass mine own.” But this actor does a good job with the character. Ferdinand, however, is a bit weak. Prospera’s lines from the end of the scene are cut. Then we go back to Act II Scene I, starting with Gonzalo’s line “Had I plantation on this isle, my lord” (yes, he says “on” rather than “of”). Oddly the beginning of Gonzalo’s famous speech is cut, so that it begins “all men idle, all.” Antonio and Sebastian do a good job with the scene when Antonio convinces Sebastian (Alan Cumming) to kill Alonso (David Strathairn). But the music is annoying. Then we return to Act III. Alfred Molina is good in the moment when he’s convinced to kill Prospera. In the text, Ariel plays a tabor and pipe. But in this version we hear a horn. This scene ends with Caliban’s line “When Prospera is destroy’d.” Then we get a shot of Prospera messing with some invention using light and mirrors, before going onto Scene iii and the banquet.
In Act IV after Prospera’s line to Ferdinand “she is thine own,” the movie skips to Stephano’s line “Monster, your fairy, which you say is a harmless fairy.” We get a bit of that scene, and Trinculo falls into some water. Then frogs leap out, some of which have the face of Ariel (which looks stupid rather than intriguing). Then we go back to Prospera calling Ariel so they can show Ferdinand and Miranda “some vanity of mine art.” After Prospera tells Ariel she loves him “Dearly,” Ferdinand sings to Miranda, something which is not in the play. The song he sings is actually from Twelfth Night – “O Mistress Mine,” which Feste sings in Act II Scene iii. It’s out of place in The Tempest. Anyway, that leads to Prospera’s gift of magic for the couple, and suddenly they’re in a planetarium, with constellations and geometric patterns projected on the screen. This goes on for a few moments, until suddenly Prospera appears and says, “I had forgot that foul conspiracy…” So everything with Juno, Iris and Ceres is cut. So all of the magic and music and celebration is gone. Basically the point of the scene has been removed. The spirits are not there. So when she says “avoid! no more,” just exactly who is she talking to? And then she gives the famous “Our revels now are ended” speech. But the line is, “these our actors – as I foretold you – were all spirits.” But there were no spirits. There were no actors. They were cut from this production. You can’t cut the spirits, and then have Prospera refer to the spirits. Julie Taymor is a stupid bitch who does not understand the play. She made the most famous speech in the play senseless. Good job, moron. There is more annoying music when Trinculo and Stephano steal the clothing. And they say lines not from the play. Trinculo says, “I look a dream, don’t I? How could it be real?” and then, “Looking for business, governor?” as he does some crossdressing. Trinculo then lifts the skirt and makes a fart noise. I’m not kidding. Fucking awful. And once again, Taymor misses the point of the scene. The purpose of the clothing is to distract Stephano and Trinculo from fulfilling Caliban’s wish to murder Prospero. Prospero and Ariel could distract them a thousand different ways. They choose to do it with clothing. A director has to ask why clothing, and has to come up with an answer. For me, it’s about taking on the trappings of nobility rather than actually acting or being noble. Also, they don’t want to do the thing to reach the goal, but want to enjoy the results of having accomplished the goal. Trinculo calls Stephano “King Stephano” when putting on the clothing, as if all had been achieved already. After all, it’s royal garb, as indicated in the text, not women’s clothing. It’s not about crossdressing. And the music is worse and worse. Flaming CG dogs chase them, but what I want is for a pack of dogs to be set on Julie Taymor.
The first lines of Act V are done as voice over as we see Gonzalo and the others. Prospera creates a ring of fire, speaks angrily, then lets it go out on “But this rough magic/I here abjure.” So what was the point of creating the circle of fire? Just one last bit of angry fun? It seems like Julie Taymor just wanted another chance to play with special effects. But then the four men walk into the circle of ash, and there are frozen. So the circle still has power? That creates another problem. If she renounces her magic, and the fire goes out at that moment, then the audience is going to think there is no more magic in the circle, that she really did abjure the magic. But then a few moments later they learn the magic of the circle is still working. So…? On “Their understanding/Begins to swell,” the men begin to move. Instead of “fetch me the hat and rapier,” Prospera says, “fetch me the skirt and bodice from my cell.” (Because, again, Prospera is a woman in this version.) When she turns to Sebastian and Antonio, they try to move away, but stop at the edge of the circle. So apparently the ash circle has trapped them. But then suddenly we see Prospera leading them into her home (after a quick shot of Ferdinand and Miranda playing chess). Trinculo (still in a dress), Stephano and Caliban enter, but oddly the Boatswain is cut from the scene. Everyone but Prospera and Caliban exits. These two then have a moment, looking at each other, before Caliban walks up the stairs into the light. Apparently he’s been freed, something that is not stated in the play. After Prospera tells Ariel, “Be free,” Ariel sings the “bee sucks” song. Then Prospera stands on the cliff and throws her staff down to the ocean. And that’s the end. The epilogue is sung over the closing credits while we see Prospera’s books sinking. The song sounds awful, by the way, and it goes on and on. (time: 110 minutes)

- Shakespeare The Animated Tales: The Tempest  (1992) with Timothy West, Alun Armstrong, Ella Hood, Katy Behean, Jonathan Tafler; screenplay by Leon Garfield; directed by Stanislav Sokolov. This version of The Tempest is done with puppets, and has a great look.  Narration tells us the back story of the play before we see the storm. Prospero puts Miranda to sleep right after “I have done nothing but in care of thee.” Caliban is a strange-looking beast, and he tries to grab Prospero’s staff. Sweet romantic music plays when Miranda meets Ferdinand.
In Act II, Adrian and Francisco are cut. Gonzalo speaks Francisco’s lines, “Sir, he may live/I saw him beat the surges under him.” Ariel wakes Alonso, not Gonzalo. Trinculo wears a traditional jester costume. Stephano stumbles over Trinculo and Caliban.
In Act III, Stephano really gives Trinculo a punch on “Take that.” We see Prospero at home, hearing what Caliban is telling Stephano and Trinculo. Interestingly, we still hear Ariel say “This will I tell my master” (though Prospero already knows). Spirits fly down with the banquet table – it looks really cool. When Ariel says, “You are three men of sin,” light shoots out of his eyes as if he were some 1960s Japanese monster. It’s weird. After Ariel’s speech, the spirits return to remove the table.
In Act IV, all of the stuff with Iris, Juno and Ceres is cut. And so are cut Prospero’s lines about the spirits. So what’s left of his famous speech is: “Be cheerful, sir. Our revels now are ended. We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep. Sir, I am vex’d. A turn or two I’ll walk to still my beating mind.” The dogs that Prospero lets loose on Stephano, Trinculo and Caliban seem to be Dalmatians.
In Act V, oddly, those great lines of Ariel’s are cut – “You charm so strongly works ‘em/That if you now beheld them, your affections/Would become tender” and “Mine would, sir, were I human.” Ariel whips Stephano, Trinculo and Caliban to get them to move toward Prospero. After Prospero says, “fare thou well,” we have a shot of the boat on calm seas. Prospero is on the boat. He breaks his staff and tosses it overboard, along with his books. The last shot is of Caliban alone on the island. The epilogue is cut.  (time: 25 minutes)

- Forbidden Planet (1956) with Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen, Warren Stevens, Jack Kelly; screen play by Cyril Hume; directed by Fred McLeod Wilcox. This science fiction film is a loose adaptation of The Tempest. A voice over at the beginning states that humans have begun colonization of deep space, so immediately touching upon one of the themes critics have discussed regarding the play. Twenty years ago a ship landed on a distant planet. Now the current mission is to search for survivors. Before they land, a man contacts them from the surface. His name is Edward Morbius (Walter Pidgeon), and he warns the captain not to land the ship. Of course Commander Adams (Leslie Nielsen) lands anyway, as per his orders. Robbie the Robot shuttles him and two other men – Lieutenant Forman (Jack Kelly) and Lieutenant Ostrow (Warren Stevens) – to Morbius’ home. Morbius is a powerful man, who lives on the planet with only his daughter, Altaira (Anne Francis, in the Miranda role). The rest of the people from the original mission were killed by some mysterious force on the planet. Altaira (or Alta, as her father calls her) has never met any men except her father, and so is curious about these three newcomers. Farman immediately hits on her, but of course she later falls for Adams. Robbie the Robot functions as a combination of Caliban and Ariel. He is a servant, like Caliban, but is also very powerful, like Ariel. However, he was built by Morbius, and so was not on the planet before him. An invisible force attacks and kills several crewmen, but it turns out this force was unleashed (though unintentionally) by Morbius.  (time: 98 minutes)
Related Films:

- Raising The Tempest   – This is a documentary on the making of the 2010 version of The Tempest. It features interviews with the cast and crew.  Because the film itself was so awful, the documentary can be annoying at times too, like whenever Julie Taymor is talking as if she’s a Shakespeare expert. However, all of the stuff about the location is really interesting. Taymor and Helen Mirren each do talk about the female Prospero, and Taymor talks about changing the backstory for that character. There is some footage from 1986 stage production. Regarding Caliban’s makeup, Taymor says she combines and the white and black on him because of the word “mooncalf,” so he’ll look like a calf. Okay, sure. Of course, that word has nothing to do with an actual calf, but whatever. Djimon Hounsou also talks about the makeup.  There is some footage of the rehearsals, which is cool. Russell Brand (who plays Trinculo in the film) jokes about playing various roles from the canon, and I swear he says “Sherlock” rather than “Shylock.” Yikes! (He’s awful in the film, by the way.) Reeve Carney (who plays Ferdinand in the film) is a singer, not an actor (big surprise there, based on his weak performance in the movie), so, as Julie Taymor says, that’s why they added the song from Twelfth Night. To give him a chance to show off what is supposedly his real talent. Of course, that’s a terrible reason to add something to Shakespeare.  (time: 66 minutes)

Films With References To This Play:
- Gnomio & Juliet  (2011) with James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Matt Lucas, Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, Jason Statham, Ashley Jensen; directed by Kelly Asbury. This animated film features the tale of Romeo And Juliet as portrayed by garden gnomes and other lawn ornaments. So while obviously this film is mostly Romeo And Juliet, it does contain references to other Shakespeare plays, including The Tempest. Gnomeo is apparently killed, driven over by a truck in the street - but it turns out to be a blue teapot in the street. The truck says, "Tempest Teapots." Gnomeo is hanging onto the bottom of the truck. (84 minutes)
- The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976) with Nicol Williamson, Alan Arkin, Robert Duvall, Vanessa Redgrave, Laurence Olivier, Charles Gray, Jeremy Kemp; written by Nicholas Meyer; directed by Herbert Ross.  This film in which Sherlock Holmes meets Sigmund Freud has several Shakespeare references, including one to The Tempest. At the end of the film, Freud (Alan Arkin) hypnotizes Sherlock Holmes (Nicol Williamson) one more time, and discovers some startling facts about his childhood. Then to Watson he quotes a line of Prospero's famous speech from Act IV: "We are such stuff as dreams are made on." (This film also has references to King Lear and Macbeth.)
- Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) with William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Christopher Plummer, Kim Cattrall; directed by Nicholas Meyer. In this, what is one of the best Star Trek films, there are many references to Shakespeare's works, including two to The Tempest. Chancellor Gorkon says to Captain Kirk, "If there is to be a brave new world, our generation is going to have the hardest time living in it." That is a reference to Miranda's line in Act V, "O brave new world/That has such people in't." The second reference to The Tempest comes during the battle scene. General Chang fires at Sulu's ship, then says to Kirk, "Our revels now are ended, Kirk." This is a reference to Prospero's line in Act IV.

Television Programs With References To The Tempest:
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1988-1999) with Mike Nelson. In the episode where they watch "Girl In Gold Boots" there is a reference to The Tempest. While Michelle is dancing on stage for her audition, Mike Nelson quips, "That's good, but we're casting The Tempest here."
- Slings & Arrows  (2003-2006) with Paul Gross, Martha Burns, Stephen Ouimette.  The show's title is obviously a reference to Hamlet, and while the first season focuses on a production of Hamlet, there are many references to other plays by Shakespeare, including The Tempest.  In the first episode, "Oliver's Dream," we see Geoffrey fixing a toilet in his theatre.  In the background there is a poster for The Tempest.  Once he's fixed the toilet, he returns to the performance space and very enthusiastically talks about the storm in The Tempest.  And we see a bit of Act I Scene i.  In the fifth episode, titled "A Mirror Up To Nature," Geoffrey is forced to write out the next season's schedule of plays. He includes three plays by Shakespeare, including The Tempest.
- Star Trek (1966-1969) with William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley. The episode titled “Requiem For Methuselah” is a loose adaptation of The Tempest. In this episode, Captain Kirk, Spock and McCoy land on a mysterious planet to collect material for medicine to help the crew. There they meet an old, powerful man named Flint (James Daly) who tells them this is his planet, and they are trespassing. He grants them two hours on his planet, and takes them to his home. He has a robot named M-4 which serves as his butler, housekeeper, gardener and guardian (so a sort of combination of Caliban and Ariel). There is also a woman named Reena (though spelled “Rayna” on the DVD box and in the subtitles), whom Flint has raised as his daughter and whom he loves (thus playing with the incestuous tones that many critics find in the play). Reena (the Miranda character, played by Louise Sorel) says to Kirk, Spock and McCoy, “Flint is my teacher. You are the only other men I’ve ever seen.” And of course she falls in love with Kirk. Flint mentions the possibility of a chess game, as Ferdinand and Miranda play in The Tempest. Interestingly, the world “lonely” plays an important part in this episode, a word that Shakespeare invented. Also, McCoy sees a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio among Flint’s possessions. Reena, as is revealed, is actually an android. This episode was written by Jerome Bixby, and directed by Murray Golden.

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