Wednesday, 1 February 2017

The Tempest

Okay so I thought I'd record my notes throughout my lecture through a blog post. You'll probably all be breathing a sigh of relief to read something other than rants about Trump. Anyway I am currently watching Taymor's adaptation of The Tempest (2010) in my lecture. I've read The Tempest a few times now and I like it. It's not one of my favourite of Shakespeare's works, I prefer works such as Much Ado About Nothing and Twelfth Night.

Anyway, the film is successful in adapting The Tempest, and the setting was beautiful. Taymor was successful in replicating the effect that Shakespeare's language had created in the text. The dreamlike setting of the island was just as it had been in the text, and I was enthralled. I really liked the use of sudden flashbacks and Ariel's sudden appearances. Ariel's songs were much more sinister than I felt they were in the text. That Ariel was repeatedly fading in and out was interesting and very much added to the setting. It was much more obvious here that he was invisible to the characters, and yet he was omnipresent for the audience. I felt a great sympathy for Ariel and his imprisonment though, perhaps I missed something, but I couldn't really work out why he was still enslaved to Prospera. Regardless, his presence made me feel uneasy and I wondered if that was because of his wispy, and dreamlike form.

The casting was strange to me at first and surprised me. Helen Miren?! I was expecting to see Miranda racing up the incline to plead with a the patriarchal figure of her father. I was expecting Prospero to occupy a male role. Regardless, I like the change and now we have Prospera. With it, I felt the relationship between Miranda and her parent is more entertaining. At times, there is a sense of a normal maternal bond between the two characters which made the character appear much more favourable to me. I detested him whilst reading, I found him overbearing.

However, this endearing and maternal side to Prospera is quickly and frequently undermined by the sinister and manipulative elements of her character. She is marrying her daughter off for her own gain, she enslaves Ariel and has manipulated the entire play since its beginning. I felt that her character was erratic, and her demeanour changes so often it is hard to keep up.  By the end of the play, Prospera has given an emotional soliloquy and I find myself feeling sympathy for her once again. The role of the victim is much more endearing now that the character is female, I think.

The choice of a female casting definitely appealed to be inner feminist, and I loved the alterations to the story of Prospera's origins to include elements of witchcraft. Through flashbacks, we are led to feel sorry for her and her daughter because she has been cast out and usurped by her brother. She has found this island out of what she believed to be providence and the notion of Tabula Rasa is introduced. Again, I felt more sympathy for the female counterpart due to having been cast out with a young daughter. Regardless I appreciated her much more than the original male counterpart. Whether or not I rooted for her, I don't know. I don't think I rooted for anybody really. I didn't take a liking to any of the characters in particular.

Miranda's character is the one that seems a little over the top. She's a kind and sympathetic character but far too naïve for me to root for her. She comes across desperate to have the first man that she comes across, and this irritates me. Though it is understanding. The point was raised that Shakespeare hints at Miranda and Ferdinand having an unhappy marriage due to the fact that Ferdinand cheated at chess. Miranda responds to his cheating with the fact that she would call it 'fair play'. Good god.
Last week I discovered that the word fond once meant to make a fool of oneself whilst having an affection for them, and I very much think she embodies this. I'm sure that she has a good heart, but she falls in love far too quickly.

I loved the casting choice for Trinculo! Don't get me wrong, I do not like Russell Brand at all and rarely do I find him amusing. However, I couldn't imagine anybody else fulfilling the role better than he. Although I do think that he reminded me of Captain Jack Sparrow, which made for a very amusing adaptation of The Tempest.

In short, I did very much enjoy the film and another interpretation of the text. Though I will admit to finding the non-diegetic music disrupting to the flow of the film and this was aided by the rearranging of some scenes. This made it a little confusing in places.

One of my favourite lines from The Tempest is 'hell is empty and all the devils are here'. How very accurate.

Okay, before I go I wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone that's been reading this! People keep coming to me and telling me that they're reading it and I honestly cannot thank you enough!

Have a great day guys. Expect some more rambling later on.

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