The Tempest Review

Image for The Tempest

Prospero, a potent necromancer, lives on a desolate isle with his virginal daughter, Miranda. He's in exile, banished from his duchy by his usurping brother and the King of Naples. Providence brings these enemies near; aided by his vassal the spirit Ariel, Prospero conjures a tempest to wreck the Italian ship.


Derek Jarman’s unconventional version of the Shakespeare play — which, admittedly, looks a lot more audience-friendly and traditionalist after Prospero’s Books and Forbidden Planet — is set on a single day-for-night beach and in a decaying mansion where characters dress as if they were in a Victorian panto. It offers the expected Heathcote Williams’ shabby mad magician Prospero and Toyah Wilcox as a ripe punkish Miranda. Jarman enjoys camping it up with his nude sailors and a strangely apt appearance from Elizabeth Welch as a goddess who sings Stormy Weather after the play is wound up. It’s one of Jarman’s more bearable pictures because of his genuine and passionate involvement with Shakespeare, and is perhaps the film of his most likely to appeal to non-insider audiences.

Too oblique for some tastes, but a sterling production for others.