Saturday, September 11, 2010

Venice Film Festival: The Tempest


Venice is finally finishing up today with the premiere of Julie Taylor's The Tempest, based on the play by William Shakespeare. I've come to expect by now that any film adaptation of the famous writer's work is likely not to do very well. It may be because most of his words go way over my head, or that his stories are just not that interesting anymore, and have become simply outdated. Whatever the case, it seems my belief has been validated by some reviews for the film, while others are a little more positive.
Guy Lodge (In Contention): "Taymor has long been a problematic talent, but even the most out-of-control passages of Across the Universe and Frida demonstrated a na├»ve, wild-eyed devotion to her material that simply isn’t in evidence here. The Tempest treats Shakespeare’s writing as little more than a vessel for unmoored visual concepts that brook no further discussion of the play — something that her 1999 debut Titus a far gutsier stab at a less overexposed work by the Bard, did invite. This flabby, empty pageant will likely enjoy a long life in high school classrooms, as desperate English teachers stick it on in the hope of making the play seem more hip to their unmoved students, but they’d be serving the kids — and Shakespeare — better if they dug up a copy of Forbidden Planet instead."

Robert Beames (Telegraph): "The question of whether this is a successful adaptation is tricky. Not every aspect works as intended, and the moments of computer effects, and some of the fast cutting, are alienating and a distraction. However, to give Taymor her due, she hasn't just filmed a stage play. This is a movie and it is a solidly entertaining one, vibrant and colourful, with excellent performances from Mirren and Jones, two British actresses at polar ends of their careers who ensure that time watching The Tempest is not wasted. Even if it is not quite the brave new world for Shakespeare at the cinema that it might have been."

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