Thursday, March 7, 2013

Hunky Dory: A Tempest-Related Film

Hunky Dory. Dir. Marc Evans. Perf. Minnie Driver et al. 2011. DVD. Entertainment One, 2012.

Although this film is not yet available to North American markets, I was able to watch a Region 2 DVD of it through secret methods of my own.

The film is set in a comprehensive school in Wales, and it involves a teacher's attempt to put on a musical version of The Tempest with the greatest level of student involvement she can—both in participation and in selecting the music to be used in the production.

The film itself rambles quite a bit, and there's not much conversation about the reasons for the choices of songs from the early 1970s—the time in which the film is set. In that respect, it doesn't succeed. There's also not too much Tempest in the film at large (though there are some interesting points of the actors' lives that mirror the characters' lives). But there are two scenes at least that are extremely enjoyable.

The first gives us a bit of the rehearsal for the play. We get a few lines from The Tempest, and then a musical number starts. It's Act I, scene ii, when Ferdinand is led by Ariel's song to Propsero and Miranda. In this production, Ariel's song is ELO's "Strange Magic," and Miranda is the one who begins singing it:

The second is my favorite, even though the connections to The Tempest are not very clear or very direct. David Bowie's "Life on Mars" features at the opening of the actual performance. The performers have put together some marvelous stagecraft, and the song, which originally appeared on Bowie's album Hunky Dory (which also gives the film its name), is delightful.

Links: The Film at IMDB.

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Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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The very instant that I saw you did / My heart fly to your service; there resides, / To make me slave to it; and, for your sake, / Am I this patient [b]log-man.

—The Tempest