Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I heard it referred to as Taymor's Revenge.

Patrick and I popped in to see a little bit of Taymor's Tempest the other night. We missed the beginning, and we didn't stay even for an hour so this is by no means a comprehensive review. In addition to how utterly UN-compelling the film was, there was also some kind of problem with the projector. Scenes would blip into blackness for a moment and then come back. It was distracting and the movie just wasn't worth it. We have free passes to see another movie ... I'm thinking Black Swan.

My initial impressions of the movie were that it was visually sumptuous. The island was stunning. The Ariel effects were interesting. The design was lovely. I think we can agree that Julie Taymor is a pretty brilliant designer. But that was about where it ended for me in The Tempest. The soundtrack was completely disconnected from the story that was unfolding. The actors seemed ambivalent. The tempest itself was just not moving. And Taymor tinkered too much with the script for my liking. My liking is not to tinker with it at all... but ...

My biggest problem was exactly what I expected it to be -- Prosper-A. I tried my hardest to keep an open mind. I like Helen Mirren -- I really do. I think she does excellent work. But she was fighting an uphill battle against a director who fundamentally misunderstood the play. There are no mothers in the The Tempest. We have brief mentions of Miranda's mother and of Sycorax, and that is all. They do not appear in the play. They are absent. By changing Prospero from a father figure to a mother figure, Taymor altered the story -- she was no longer doing The Tempest. That's fine... if you don't want to do The Tempest, don't do it. Do something else. Anything else. Just don't say we're doing The Tempest.

I have to defend for a moment. I've been having this conversation a lot over the past few weeks. I am not against cross-gender casting. I love cross-gender casting. I love playing men. I love seeing women play men. I love seeing men play women. We are actors. We act. We pretend to be people that we're not in real life. I am not a wizard. I can play one. I am not a man. I can play one of those too. Check out our company page for The Bookend Project -- you'll see what I mean about cross-gender casting. But you can bet your sweet (insert any body part here) that our female actors who are playing male characters will be playing those characters as men. They're actors. They act.

Just a bit of a rant there. I will now step down from my soap box, and go bake some Christmas cookies. Again, this is by no means a comprehensive review. I am a bit too involved in post-semester vacation land to immerse myself in something "comprehensive" or structured. I hope you all enjoy your holiday season! And in case you are heading to the movies to see The Tempest ... I humbly recommend that you see something else.

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