Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 2, No. 325. Sunday, 15 Dec 1991.
Date: Fri, 13 Dec 1991 22:53:04 -0500
Subject: Prospero's Books
Well, I finally saw _Prospero's Books_ and I thought I'd toss in my
two cents. Taken as a whole, as an adaptation of _The Tempest_, I
didn't like it. The director took quite a few very good to brilliant
cinematic/literary/historical/visual/aural/dramatic ideas and
decided to put them in a movie. Along with some stupid ideas.
Using _The Tempest_ as a framework -- why not, after all? It was
like fast forwarding your VCR through a very good 6-month
documentary series on Renaissance humanism while listening to a
Gielgud-Frank Zappa-Max Headroom audio collaboration based on
_The Tempest_. Wow! That looks interesting, can you hold it
just a . . .
There were some really spectacular images in the movie. I liked
what they did visually with books, although the Walt Disney voice
narrative on the metaphysics of the Renaissance book didn't jive
with the visual effects. If you're going to make a completely
overwhelming, surreal, and frustratingly inexplicable movie,
I did like what the director did with Ariel(s) and the Ariels
themselves. Have other productions used multiple actors for the part?
The overall thrust of the adaptation/interpretation seemed to be:
Prospero was Shakespeare, who had a wild imagination and did
things with words, and _The Tempest_ is about that. Very deep: B-.
But I would see the movie again, perhaps even teach it in
connection with _The Tempest_ because it is so visually effective
and brings to life so many (too many) interesting facets of
Shakespeare's literary and historical context.