27 October 2014

The Tempest (Jarman)

The Tempest 1979
  • Director: Derek Jarman
  • Based on play by William Shakespeare
  • Cast: Heathcote Williams, Toyah Willcox, Karl Johnson, Jack Birkett, David Meyer
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Heathcote Williams  Orlando, Stormy Monday
    • Toyah Willcox – Quadrophenia
    • Karl Johnson – Merlin, Copying Beethoven, Prick Up Your Ears, Rock Follies
    • Jack Birkett – Troilus and Cressida
  • Why? Shakespeare
  • Seen:  Once previously. Now October 26, 2014.
It starts out like a sinister Gothic melodrama with a young Prospero and ditzy Miranda creeping around in the dark barren dilapidated castle attended by an expressionless Ariel in white overalls and a campy cringing gloating disgusting Caliban.
It’s all very surreal with many facial close-ups and dreamy voice-over monologues. There are long sequences with no speaking at all and often when they do speak it doesn’t make much sense.
Miranda is a bit interesting. She’s quirky and cheeky with a wild child Pippi Långstrump air about her. Ariel, unfortunately, is a minor anonymous character in the beginning only to become as grotesque as the others later on.
It has, as Hal points out, overtones of Ingmar Bergman. That is not a compliment.  It also reminds me of Fellini Satyricon, another of my least favourite films of all time.
I hope this isn’t your first encounter with Shakespeare because if it is you’re likely to dismiss him as pretentious jumbled nonsense.  Knowing this play and the others as well as I do I find it a slightly interesting – if odd and emotionless – interpretation. I’m all in favour of pushing Shakespeare to and beyond the limits but this is pointless self-indulgence more often than not.  It’s somewhat cute at times but mostly I’m unimpressed.

1 ½ * of 5

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