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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superb interpretation if you already know the play
I originally saw this film at the cinema in 1979 and I found it dark, scary and disturbing. it still is, but now I know the play I can understand why. Jarman's Tempest is the story of Miranda's growth from girlhood to woman; Prospero has retreated to a world of ideas but it is cold and loveless, he condemns Caliban as a monster but all Jarman's Caliban is guilty of is...
Published on 14 Feb 2009 by Andrew Cowie

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Jarmanic Verses
Bold, highly unconventional, and partially successful, 'The Tempest' may use Shakespeare's text as its backbone, but this work very much has the stamp of Jarman on it. Jarman's 'The Tempest' is, unsurprisingly, not a film which will please those who enjoy their Shakespearean adaptations conventional and traditional. Its visuals are murkily dark, with sections shot...
Published on 25 Mar 2012 by Mr. D Burin


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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superb interpretation if you already know the play, 14 Feb 2009
By 
Andrew Cowie "acowie" (Birmingham, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Tempest [DVD] (1979) (DVD)
I originally saw this film at the cinema in 1979 and I found it dark, scary and disturbing. it still is, but now I know the play I can understand why. Jarman's Tempest is the story of Miranda's growth from girlhood to woman; Prospero has retreated to a world of ideas but it is cold and loveless, he condemns Caliban as a monster but all Jarman's Caliban is guilty of is possessing carnal appetites, the same appetites which Miranda is starting to discover for herself. This is no island paradise but a prison which is brought to life by the arrival of the shipwreck survivors and which they, and the audience, are glad to escape from.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A quirky triumph, 27 Dec 2009
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This review is from: The Tempest [DVD] (1979) (DVD)
Forget the negative comments. The Tempest is unclassifiable - awkward, patchy, illogical, genuinely haunting and unpredictible. Jarman understood totally the un-cute, spiky nature of the magic and Heathcote Williams and Toyah Wilcox capture it perfectly. Uncomfortable, charming, witty, discomforting, beautiful and disturbing by turns, this is The Tempest that Shakespeare would have directed himself if he had lived 400 years longer.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Jarmanic Verses, 25 Mar 2012
This review is from: The Tempest [DVD] (1979) (DVD)
Bold, highly unconventional, and partially successful, 'The Tempest' may use Shakespeare's text as its backbone, but this work very much has the stamp of Jarman on it. Jarman's 'The Tempest' is, unsurprisingly, not a film which will please those who enjoy their Shakespearean adaptations conventional and traditional. Its visuals are murkily dark, with sections shot entirely in a disconcerting bluescreen, Toyah Wilcox is excellent as Miranda; but her flirtatious Miranda is changed from the meeker Miranda of the original text. To Jarman's credit, he brings a number of important contemporary themes to the fore in the film. Caliban's campness and apparent homosexuality are an unspoken symbol of his treatment as 'lesser' and 'other' by the more conservative Prospero. Jarman also deals with the mocking of supposed 'deformity', through the mocking of Caliban by the drunkard Stephano, and Stephano's friend Trinculo. Most of the film's performances are excellent; helping these evocations of serious issues to be made. Wilcox achieves the perfect blend of independence and traditional 'femininity' in her revising of the character of Miranda, and Heathcote Williams and Jarman regular Jack Birkett bring originality and depth to their portrayals of Prospero and Caliban, respectively.

Jarman's film has, however, a number of flaws and frustrations. The Film's cinematography is often an irritation. In the bluescreen scenes, it is hard to distinguish between characters. Elsewhere, the lighting is unnecessarily dark. Jarman is clearly making an implication about the murkiness of both the island and truth, all shadows and light, by doing this; but once this point is quickly evident, the camera's dingy focus is often frustrating, and takes away from the film's potential visual power - a power Jarman's films have often shown him capable of. The film is also extremely slow moving; far more so than other, longer, and similarly experimental adaptations of the play, such as Peter Greenaway's 'Prospero's Books'; and for all but the most ardent fans of Jarman and Shakespeare, there are bits where 'The Tempest' genuinely bores. Finally, though some of the film's symbolism is successful; like the contrast between the 'conventional' marriage of Prospero's daughter, amidst the ambiguous sexuality of the sailors and the singer of 'Stormy Weather' which excites Caliban; elsewhere it is less so. One scene in which Stephano and Trinculo play dress-up in the house, for example, drags on interminably, with its symbolism going nowhere. Jarman's 'The Tempest' is certainly not a great adaptation of Shakespeare's play, but it is a worthwhile and thought-provoking one. The visuals, the symbolism and the pacing are all often askew; but the evocation of some interesting and important themes, a number of excellent performances, and some excellent allegory in the film's presentation, make this film a worthwhile watch for both Jarman fans, and those who like their Shakespeare a little on the wild side.
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68 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jarman brings glamour to Shakespeare - a must see, 23 Dec 2003
By 
S. BENNETT "steviebhh" (Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
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Finally a UK DVD release for this brilliant adaptation of The Tempest.
Fans of Jarman will recognise a few faces from his 'Jubilee' a few years before, in particular Toyah Willcox, who at the time was just starting out in the rock world, puts in an enviable performance as Prospero's daughter Miranda and this aside from her more recent theatre work is her best performance - notably winning her a best newcomer nomination at the time.
It was brave of Jarman to have seen a potential Miranda from the orange haired punk pyromaniac of Jubilee and thank goodness he did. Heathcote Williams is a convincing prospero holding order over his monstrous servant Caliban (Orlando) who fancies the island for himself, only to end up looking rather drunken and foolish with Christopher Biggins (well who wouldn't!).
If you are expecting a traditional Shakespearian luvvy type film you may be dissapointed. Jarmans's film really does capture the 'sounds and sweet airs' of the island, with the eeriness dramatically contrasted by some brilliant moments such as Elisabeth Welch's amazing finale of 'Stormy Weather' possibly the beautifully campest thing ever seen in Shakespeare.
Let's hope this sparks more of the very much missed Jarman on DVD, and also that it reminds people that Toyah is much more than just 'that woman who sang It's A Mystery'. A beautiful film.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stormy Weather, 13 Dec 2012
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This review is from: The Tempest [DVD] (1979) (DVD)
A wonderful movie. The best interpretation of The Tempest I have ever seen.
Derek Jarman understands the undercurrents within the play and it is a wonderful cast.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars NOT QUITE THE GLOBE THEATRE, 9 Mar 2010
This review is from: The Tempest [DVD] (1979) (DVD)
SHAKESPEARE PURISTS WILL PROBABLY HATE THIS FILM BUT IT IS DEREK JARMAN AT HIS IRRITATING BEST.
RE-IMAGINED AND CLEVERLY FILMED IT IS AS MUCH THE BARD AS "SHAKESPEARE'S BOOKS" ALTHOUGH IT LACKS THE GRAVITAS OF JOHN GIELGUD.
THE CAST OBVIOUSLY ENJOY THEMSELVES,THERE ARE SOME VERY FUNNY CAMP MOMENTS AND ELIZABETH WELSH ENDING THE FILM SURROUNDED BY DANCING SAILORS SINGING "STORMY WEATHER" IS INSPIRED.

BUT IF YOU LIKE YOUR BARD AS PER STRATFORD UPON AVON STAY AWAY!
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5.0 out of 5 stars So brilliantly gay that the stormy weather is all we want, 4 July 2014
By 
No one can say they don't know Shakespeare's most mysterious play, The Tempest. But no one can say they understand it because it is not done to be understood but only interpreted and that's exactly what Derek Jarman does with it.

And his interpretation is that a labyrinth if not a maze in which we are supposed to get lost. We sure have an island and two people, father and daughter, Prospero and Miranda, marooned on it. We then have a tempest that brings to the island the brother, Antonio, of this father who unseated him as Duke of Milan with the help of Alonso, the father of Ferdinand, all marooned on the island by the tempest. In fact Alonso was the plotter who managed to get Prospero off the throne of Milan and got him and his daughter marooned. That is called a coup d'état or a putsch.

The object of the tempest is thus simple: to bring Ferdinand and Miranda together to get them married, Prospero's vengeance in a way on Alonso.

But it is not a play about a vengeance and Derek Jarman puts a lot of other elements forward to amplify other levels of meaning. Everyone is waiting for Caliban, the perverted and twisted "slave" who is an inept son of a witch. He is obnoxious as expected. Everyone is waiting for Ariel, the spirit that is used by Prospero to make the tempest happen and he is what we expect, a magical master of ceremonies. He brings Ferdinand and Miranda together. He more or less loses all the others on the island for Prospero to have enough time for his plan. And then he brings them to the castle in due time to be obliged to endorse the wedding.

But that still is not the meaning Derek Jarman wants us to see. He uses his camera again as a painter's brush and he is able to bring up all kinds of fantastic events and artificial situations, including a grand ball for the celebration of the wedding. But we know Derek Jarman does not believe in miracles. He is making a film, and telling us a story and he wants us to know that the plot and the vengeance and even the marriage are nothing really interesting. What is interesting is that life is always the same and it all ends with a feast, with some dances and with a song. And there he pushes his imagination to extreme anachronistic and iconoclastic antics. The ball is in fact an all male ballet of modern sailors in their nice uniforms obviously mimicking love in male couples for the wedding of a man and a woman.

And Derek Jarman crowns this obvious gay scene with the black singer Elisabeth Welch singing "Stormy Weather" surrounded by all these sailors and their love multiple pas-de-deux. And this time it is no longer a hint, it is a direct message of love from Derek Jarman to whoever, to any man he is missing right now:

"Don't know why there's no sun up in the sky
Stormy weather
Since my man and I ain't together,
Keeps rainin' all the time"

And here Derek Jarman turned the Tempest around and it became a song or a prayer about impossible love, about separation, about longing for love that cannot come because of the "stormy weather" and Derek Jarman makes it a gay manifesto, and he probably was absolutely conscious of what he was doing. He was hijacking Shakespeare's play from a simple straight meaning to a more complicated gay signification. But he did that too with Shakespeare's sonnets in another film, The Angelic Conversation. Shakespeare is easy at that game because his love sonnets, his love poetry are always so perfect that you could project yourself into the sonnet and be in love with the young man whose beauty Shakespeare is singing. Even the famous sonnet of the pilgrims in Romeo and Juliet can be interpreted in any orientation possible since it is a dialogue between one "I" and another "I" kissing with their hands and praying with their lips.

But we cannot stay on that colorful and slightly sad note. Derek Jarman leaves the play with a last vision of the same palace, the same hall where the wedding feast has just come to an end. But this palace is back to the state of total unkempt abandon that goes along with the emptiness it now has since everyone has left on the ship on the following morning.

And Ariel is there totally forlorn since he is no longer needed in the civilized world of Naples or Milan. But Derek Jarman adds one more touch. Prospero is till there too, unable to go because Ariel is his lover, he is in love with Ariel and he cannot go away from him, even in the stormy weather we know. That's the very sad moment of this interpretation of the play: love is for everyone else when you are gay, because then gay love can only be found on a desert island on which you are marooned once and for all, and your gay love will be for a spirit, a phantom. Your love will be nothing but an illusion for an illusionary character that only exists in your mind.

That's the sad way of looking at this film. You can always look at it with modern eyes and say that after all that was the past and now gay lovers can kiss on public benches and in parks and commons. Dogs will not bark any more, at least we can hope so.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
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2.0 out of 5 stars DVD, 24 Oct 2013
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This review is from: The Tempest [DVD] (1979) (DVD)
The DVD arrived quickly however the quality of the dvd was very poor which made it hard to watch. My son was reading this book at school so thought this would help. Shame about the quality.
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3.0 out of 5 stars It's Jarman!, 20 Sep 2013
By 
Green Man (Bingley, West Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Tempest [DVD] (1979) (DVD)
Typical Derek Jarman with good performances all round. I suppose it's not one for the traditionalist but it's well executed, if rather surreal. Then again that's Derek Jarman!
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3.0 out of 5 stars poor picture but great film, 19 July 2012
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This review is from: The Tempest [DVD] (1979) (DVD)
pointless me telling you about the Tempest because if your buying or looking at this you know what it is, so lets just concentrate on the dvd, as far as i can tell its uncut and yes its finally on dvd but its dirty, grainy, there's ghost outlines on people and looks just like the version on you tube and i think that's most likely from tv, its a pity but its the only version out there, gutted but happy to own it
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