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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: February ::
Tempest on Film
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0376  Thursday, 24 February 2005

[1]     From:   Richard Burt <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Feb 2005 15:05:36 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0362 Tempest on Film

[2]     From:   Peter Bridgman <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Feb 2005 20:11:26 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0362 Tempest on Film

[3]     From:   Tanya Gough <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Feb 2005 15:52:40 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0362 Tempest on Film

[4]     From:   Kristen McDermott <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Feb 2005 16:00:24 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0362 Tempest on Film

[5]     From:   Susanne Collier <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Feb 2005 13:18:29 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0362 Tempest on Film

[6]     From:   Stephen Buhler <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Feb 2005 15:56:52 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0362 Tempest on Film


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Burt <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Feb 2005 15:05:36 -0500
Subject: 16.0362 Tempest on Film
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0362 Tempest on Film

Derek Jarman's and Peter Greeaway's.  The BBC version is deadly.
Forbidden Planet is more interesting.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Bridgman <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Feb 2005 20:11:26 -0000
Subject: 16.0362 Tempest on Film
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0362 Tempest on Film

Susan St. John asks ...

 >Can anyone recommend a decent version of Tempest on film (available on
 >VHS or DVD in America).

You could try Derek Jarman's film version, or perhaps Peter Greenaway's
Prospero's Books.

Peter Bridgman

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tanya Gough <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Feb 2005 15:52:40 -0500
Subject: 16.0362 Tempest on Film
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0362 Tempest on Film

 >Can anyone recommend a decent version of Tempest on film (available on
 >VHS or DVD in America).  Do any of you have an opinion about the
 >Animated Shakespeare version??

Tempest is a tricky one film-wise.  The Derek Jarman and the Peter
Greenaway (Prospero's Books) versions are both very avant-guard and
controversial in their own ways.  The Shakespeare Collection stage
production with Efram Zimbalist Jr is interminably slow.  I haven't seen
the BBC production yet, though I'm sure others will comment on it.

There is a Stratford (Ontario) production from 1982 with Len Cariou
which has only just been released on DVD and VHS (I got the announcement
last Monday).  We are currently waiting for our first shipment to
arrive, so I haven't seen it to compare, though I do know the production
was held in very high regard.

FYI, the Mazursky modernized Tempest is currently out of print.  There's
also the Peter Fonda version set in the Civil War period.  It's out of
print, but I'm sure copies of both can be found at online auction sites.
  A bit further a field, Woody Allen's A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy
actually borrows as much from the Tempest as it does from MND (it's
currently available on DVD)

Tanya Gough
The Poor Yorick Shakespeare Catalogue
www.bardcentral.com

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kristen McDermott <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Feb 2005 16:00:24 -0500
Subject: 16.0362 Tempest on Film
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0362 Tempest on Film

I love to use Peter Greenaway's "Prospero's Books" as an example of a
truly "magian" synthesis of art, music, poetry, spectacle, and story.
The wedding masque is stunning in its use of allegory and music, even
though it's not really a replica of a Renaissance masque.  With all the
nudity (however tasteful), however, I doubt it could be shown to a high
school class.

A really nice introduction to The Tempest (but again, not a complete
staging) is the 30-minute segment of PBS' "Behind the Scenes," hosted by
Penn & Teller, which features a Julie Taymor production of The Tempest
for a children's audience (not her later Broadway/Patrick Stewart
staging). It only includes the Prospero/Ariel/Caliban/Miranda scenes and
the Stephano/Trinculo scenes, but offers a nice discussion of the
elemental theme as well as of the synthesis of puppetry and language.

Both these versions, I think, are still available on VHS.  I'm still
waiting for a good video of a stage production.  The BBC is available,
but uninspiring.

After checking Poor Yorick, I see that the Stratford, Ont. Festival's
1982 production of "The Tempest" with Len Cariou is now available on
DVD.  Is it any good?  Their "As You Like It" works well in the classroom.

Kris McDermott
Central Michigan University

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Susanne Collier <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Feb 2005 13:18:29 -0800
Subject: 16.0362 Tempest on Film
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0362 Tempest on Film

Now this is a great question? I've never seen a "decent" Tempest on film
although I do like Richard Burton as Caliban in the films for the
humanities series; the rest of it is painful.  Hordern is interesting
but awfully old in the BBC; the Mazuski adaptation is just that and poor
Guilgud is dreadfully used in Prospero's books.

Thus my question is has any one ever seen a completely successful
performance of the Tempest; one that works all the way through?

For a play about putting on shows, it occurs to me that it is a show
that is awfully difficult to put on.

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephen Buhler <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Feb 2005 15:56:52 -0600
Subject: 16.0362 Tempest on Film
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0362 Tempest on Film

Susan St. John asks if there is "a decent version" of  *The Tempest*
available on film or video.  I'm not certain that one even exists, but a
few intriguing alternatives present themselves.

A happily *in*decent version is Derek Jarman's deeply psychological 1979
rendering, which features Heathcote Williams as a Byronic Prospero,
Toyah Willcox as a punkette Miranda, Jack Birkett (The Incredible
Orlando) as a gloriously vulgar Caliban, and Elisabeth Welch (singing,
of course, "Stormy Weather") filling in for all the goddesses of the masque.

Peter Greenaway's *Prospero's Books* (1991) could be considered more a
visual essay on Renaissance culture than an exploration of the play, but
it is endlessly inventive and reliably provocative.

Percy Stow's brief 1908 version, which can be found on the wonderful BFI
compilation, *Silent Shakespeare*, offers interesting insights to early
20th-century views of the play.  Ariel here is deeply indebted to stage
practices surrounding *A Midsummer Night's Dream* and Caliban is so
utterly colonized that he wishes to get on the ship bound for Naples,
rather than be his own king again.

Paul Mazursky's sly, updated (for 1982, that is) *Tempest* engages
intelligently with New World/Old Mediterranean/Golden Age tensions at
work in the playtext.  It boasts a fun cast, clearly having fun,
including John Cassavetes as Philip, the Prospero figure; Molly Ringwald
as Miranda; Susan Sarandon as Aretha/Ariel; and Raul Julia as a
Zorba-esque Kalibanos/Caliban.

I cannot recommend John Gorrie's ploddingly decent version for the BBC
Shakespeare series (1980), despite a cast that should have fared better
with the material: for example, Michael Hordern as Prospero, Warren
Clarke as Caliban, Nigel Hawthorne as Stephano, and Andrew Sachs (yes,
Manuel from *Faulty Towers*) as Trinculo.  Here is "little life,"
indeed, not only rounded but pervaded by a sleep.

All five versions are available on VHS or DVD or both.  The BBC
*Tempest* is part of a Shakespeare Comedies boxed set.  At present,
Tanya Gough's invaluable Poor Yorick website-www.bardcentral.com-appears
to have all but the Mazursky, for which I was able to find used copies
on amazon.com.

Regards,
Stephen Buhler

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