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