3 November 2014

Prospero's Books


Prospero’s Books 1991
  • Director: Peter Greenaway
  • Based on The Tempest by William Shakespeare
  • Cast: John Gielgud, Michael Clark, Erland Josefsson, Isabelle Pasco, Tom Bell, Orpheo, Paul Russell, James Thiérrée
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • John Gielgud  Elizabeth, Hamlet, Shine, Arthur, Gandhi, The Elephant Man, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Oh What a Lovely War, Richard III
    • Erland Josefsson – Den tatuerade änkan, Meeting Venus, Scener ur ett äktenskap, Viskningar och rop, Vargtimmen
  • Why? Shakespeare
  • Seen:  November 1, 2014.
Is this going to be another weird version of Shakespeare’s play?  It won several prizes but that’s no guarantee. We’ll soon see.
Very soon, as it turns out.  And very weird.  Lavish and overpopulated with writhing, dancing, swimming naked people, it makes no sense whatsoever.  Its connection to The Tempest is minimal, at least in the first half.  Greenaway certainly can’t be accused of following the policy of “less is more”. It’s just too much. It drags in all its sumptuousness and I long for simplicity and clarity. This makes Jarman’s version look positively austere and restrained.
It’s utterly awful.  It is only the small hope that it will settle down and do the play a little bit of justice and stop wallowing in self-indulgent orgies of hallucinatory nonsense that keeps me from simply turning it off.
It doesn’t.
Because some Shakespeare lines are retained and because John Gielgud is John Gielgud it doesn’t get the zero or minus stars that I’m tempted to give it.

½ * of 5


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