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Julie Taymor's Film Version of The Tempest Sounds Amazing

Helen-mirrin-the-tempest Film/theatre/literature/feminism nerds rejoice! Julie Taymor is adapting William Shakespeare's The Tempest for the screen.


Set to be released in December 2010, Taymor has, as is her way, blown past any boundaries before her and reinvented The Tempest. The lead role of Prospero is now Prospera, female, and is played by Helen Mirren. From IMDb.com:

Going back to the 16th or 17th century, women practicing the magical arts of alchemy were often convicted of witchcraft. In Taymor's version, Prospera is usurped by her brother and sent off with her four-year-old daughter on a ship. She ends up on an island; it's a tabula rasa: no society, so the mother figure becomes a father figure to Miranda. This leads to the power struggle and balance between Caliban and Prospera; a struggle not about brawn, but about intellect.

This is just so intriguing. I can't wait to see this. Taymor is an artist who never fails to astound me with her effort, talent, perspective, and insight. (Though I will admit that I found Across the Universe too dull and silly to fully watch.) Her film adaptation of Titus is one of my favorite movies. The stark, timeless landscape, the utterly frightening familial relations, the sheer number of bodies that pile up...I think I last watched it about 6 or 7 years ago because I can't handle watching it too often. And while I don't pay much attention to musical theatre, Taymor's reworking of The Lion King for Broadway was too amazing to go unnoticed.

This re-imagining of The Tempest allows Taymor to tinker with ideas of how the prospect of exile is different for a man and a woman. If a woman is forced into an opportunity to create her own society, what does that society look like? Taymor's Prospera also works to keep her daughter, Miranda, from falling prey to the traps that resulted in her exile. It seems likely that Prospera will be more teacher to Miranda than protector, as Prospero is. Miranda will learn to stand on her own, not just find the best man to trust with her protection. I imagine parents of daughters will find this particularly empowering.

My one concern is this tidbit: 

In the new version, Prospera is more overtly wronged. As the wife of the duke, she is accused of witchcraft after his death by brother Antonio (Chris Cooper), so he can cast her off and claim her title.

With the new feminine perspective, I think you can have an equally meaningful story if Prospera, like Prospero, had grown too comfortable in her own world, putting at least some of her control of her fate into the hands of a man, and then having that bite her in the ass.

But besides that, I think this movie is going to kick so much ass. Besides Mirren, the cast includes Alfred Molino, Djimon Honsou, Alan Cumming, Chris Cooper, and...Russell Brand? Eh, sure, why the hell not?

As far as I can tell, a trailer hasn't been released for this yet. So...let's just watch the Titus trailer in the meantime.



USA Today







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Comments

Washington "Re-Ow Lion"  Cube

She brings such a unique creativity to her productions, I am betting this one would be great.

BaltimoreGal

LOVED Titus. Also love Mirren. I think it will work!

Angela in Ontario

Why isn't it December yet? I would like this now, please!

Erin

"Titus" was lovely. I don't particularly care for the play, nor do I really care for "The Tempest", but Taymor does such beautiful things that I'm excited about this even without being a "Tempest" fan.

Katie

I wish I'd never seen Titus. It scared me. The image of the girl with the branches for arms has been forever branded onto my brain. There's no denying Taymor's talent, I just don't do gruesome very well. Helen Mirren rules all.




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