The Tempest DVD Review
Title: The Tempest
Release Date: September 13, 2011
In all of the Shakespeare units I took in both high school and college, I never once encountered The Tempest. My very first exposure to The Tempest, thought to be the last of Shakespeare’s plays, was Miramax’s 2010 The Tempest, starring Helen Mirren as Prospera, and Felicity Jones as her daughter, Miranda. I knew just enough about The Tempest to know that the character of Miranda has lived on the island with her father, Prospero. Since I have neither seen nor read any other adaptation of The Tempest, I will probably forever envision the character of Prospero as a female.
To make her production of The Tempest with Prospero as a female work, director Julie Taymor had to change some of the back story revolving the isolation of Prospero and Miranda to the island. In the original play, Prospero is the Duke of Milan, and he has been exiled to this island. In Taymor’s version, Prospera was the wife of the Duke of Milan. When he died, she took over his position. She was then banished for practicing magic, and raised her daughter Miranda on the island. She causes a tempest that brings her brother, Antonio, to the island, as well as a king and his son, Ferdinand. She then works another kind of magic to make Miranda and Ferdinand fall in love. As a result, Miranda will regain her birthright.
The Tempest combines some of the best elements of Shakespeare’s comedy, romance, and drama. The comedic scenes are wonderfully portrayed by actors Russell Brand (Trinculo) and Alfred Molina (Stephano), a bit reminiscent of the playfulness and absurdity in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The romance between Felicity Jones (Miranda) and Reeve Carney (Prince Ferdinand) has the same beautiful language as the conversations between Romeo and Juliet, but with a much happier outcome. I loved the conflicts between Prospera, Caliban (Dijimon Hounsou), and Ariel (Ben Whishaw) as Prospera and Caliban fought over ownership of the island, and Ariel bargained for his freedom from Prospera.
The bonus features on the Blu-ray version of The Tempest were key to helping me understand not only the play, but also Julie Taymor’s vision.
Raising The Tempest is a documentary about how the film was made. The documentary is slightly over an hour, and shows the actors rehearsing their roles, getting into their makeup (for Dijimon Hounsou, it took 4 hours to become Caliban), and how they acquired the rights to film in Hawaii on a privately owned island. Footage is also shown from a 1986 stage production that Julie Taymor directed.
O Mistress Mine music video features Reeve Carney’s vocals in a song that was used in the film to woo Miranda.
Los Angeles Rehearsal shows a read through with Julie Taymor, Alfred Molina, and Dijimon Hounsou as they discuss the play and their roles in the film.
Russell Brand Rehearsal Riff is hilarious! See what he’s like when out of character, and you might not be able to tell the difference at all.
Audio Commentary features two different options; you can watch the movie with commentary from Julie Taymor or from two Shakespearean experts. This is particularly useful if you are brand new to The Tempest.
*I did not receive any financial compensation for this review, though I did review a sample of the product for evaluation purposes. The opinions are based only on my experiences with the product.*