Thursday, August 7, 2008

Straightforward Version of The Tempest

The Tempest. Dir. John Gorrie. Perf. Michael Hordern, Warren Clarke, Pippa Guard, and David Dixon. 1980. DVD. Ambrose Video, 2001.

From a fragment and through a few derivative works, we arrive at a film version of the play itself.  The BBC Tempest is a straitforward production.  There are very few surprises here.  Ariel is a waif-like wisp who tends to disappear in a Kurosawa-esque wipe.  Miranda is Miranda.  The storm is a BBC sound stage storm.

Michael Hordern, who plays Prospero, is one of those English actors who have been around for sixty years or so and has been in tons of things.  He played Baptista in the Zeffirelli Taming of the Shrew, for example.  He's a solid Prospero.

In his version of Prospero's speech at V.i.44-57,  the surprise here is that the speech (unlike Patrick Stewart's fragmentary version) doesn't build to a climax.  Instead, the camera pulls away from Prospero as he starts to disclaim power, and the final line ("And deeper than did ever plummet sound / I'll drown my book") is almost thrown away.  It's a metaphor.  I'm sure of it.  As he distances himself from his So Potent Art, we are distanced from him.

Links: The film at IMDB.

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Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

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