Monday, November 26, 2012

I watched Julie Taymor's Tempest last night, a long delayed pleasure that turned out to be so much less of a pleasure than I expected that I was almost sorry I'd waited so long to do it in the first place.

It was always going to be a dangerous endeavour as I loved our version so hopelessly that any mere celluloid cousin was going to have its work cut out. But I screwed my courage to the sticking place and pressed play.

Well. Hated the silly melodramatic shipwreck start. I realise it's in the script. And it was a nice opening to the film. But did you notice the little sneaky fake line they inserted for Ferdinand: hell is empty and all the devils are here! Now Ariel says that later when he's telling Prosp about what's been going down but there's no Ferdinand in the first scene. Then again, is it a bad thing that Julie set this up? Maybe it helped the storytelling.

Then we get Helen / Prospera (so glad we left her as Prospero) and pretty pretty Miranda and the background scene. A fake line inserted here too about Prospera's kindred having been burnt for less. Interesting. Not Shakespeare. But you can see what she was trying to do. I think though I fundamentally quibble with adding bits in to Shakespeare. By all means, cut and trim but to add?

Anyway, Miranda and Ferdinand were suitably fresh-faced and love struck. That was pretty cute.

Ariel was too wispy for my liking. Nice and androgynous but she went a bit wild with the visual effects IMHO.

Alfred Molina and Russell Brand gave Cari and Matt a run for their money. In an exceedingly over the top caricatured way. But I still prefer my quayside version of the four legged monster to their lumpy desert-based encounter.

I MUCH preferred our Gonzalo. This illustrious actor, whoever he was, all very world-weary. But Gillian had a lovely quirky charm to her that made her less sanctimonious and more sensible. But maybe I'm biased.

Caliban. Man alive. Caliban. Well, you can see where she was going with it. And we got an admirable heartfelt and wracked with pain performance from Djimon Hounsou. But so far, so nicely embracing the cliche.

I did like Sebastian and Antonio. Chris Cooper looked eerily similar to Chris Allan which satisfied me. Preferred our Helen to Alan, controversially.

The dogs the firey dogs when Trinculo and Stephano are chased chased away from the riches. Versus our dog-eared bitches? Infinitely inferior.

The songs? Not on a patch on our Beyonce / Pet Shop Boys / etc etc. loveliness conjured up by Neil and Tommy. Silly unimaginative Julie.

And then ProperA. Well, it's Helen Mirren. Who is clearly brilliant. But I'm ashamed to say that thing I liked best was her leathery dress when she appears in all her regalia to the wicked ones at the end.

It's a sorry tribute to our marine magic that I, two years on, remember so much of the Shakespeare text. Though I guess I did hear it every day for a fortnight.

I did think we were better. But then you can't really compare theatre to film, can you? It's like comparing a picture of a chocolate cake with the real thing. Thoroughly inadvisable.


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