GenreComedy, Drama, Fantasy Story byWilliam Shakespeare Duration LanguageEnglish
Release dateSeptember 11, 2010 (2010-09-11) (Venice)
December 10, 2010 (2010-12-10) (US) Based onThe Tempest
by William Shakespeare WriterJulie Taymor (screenplay), William Shakespeare (play) CastFelicity Jones (Miranda), Reeve Carney (Prince Ferdinand), David Strathairn (King Alonso), Tom Conti (Gonzalo), Alfred Molina (Stephano), Djimon Hounsou (Caliban) Similar moviesThe Hollow Crown: Henry V, The Hollow Crown: Richard II, The Hollow Crown: Henry IV - Part 2, The Hollow Crown: Henry IV - Part 1, An Age of Kings, The Wars of the Roses
The Tempest is a 2010 American film based on the play of the same name by William Shakespeare, featuring Helen Mirren in the principal role of Prospera. The film is directed by Julie Taymor and premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September 2010.
Although The Tempest received generally unfavorable reviews from critics, Sandy Powell received her ninth Academy Award nomination for Best Costume Design. Shakespeare's epic play is translated from page to screen, with the gender of the main character, Prospero, changed from male to female.
Helen Mirren as Prospera – a sorceress and Miranda's mother
Ben Whishaw as Ariel – a spirit who aids Prospera
Djimon Hounsou as Caliban – Prospera's slave who, along with Stephano and Trinculo, plots against her
Felicity Jones as Miranda – Prospera's daughter who falls in love with Ferdinand
David Strathairn as Alonso, King of Naples – Ferdinand's father and Trinculo and Stephano's employer
Tom Conti as Gonzalo – a counsellor to Alonso, who gave aid to Prospera and Miranda
Reeve Carney as Ferdinand – Alonso's son, who falls in love with Miranda
Chris Cooper as Antonio – Prospera's brother and Miranda's uncle
Alan Cumming as Sebastian – Alonso's brother
Alfred Molina as Stephano – Alonso's butler who, along with Trinculo, joins forces with Caliban to plot against Prospera
Russell Brand as Trinculo – Alonso's jester who, along with Stephano, joins forces with Caliban to plot against Prospera
The film, based on the play of the same name by William Shakespeare, is written and directed by Julie Taymor. The play's main character is Prospero, who is male in the original play. Taymor explained the casting decision, "I didn't really have a male actor that excited me in mind, and yet there had been a couple of phenomenal females – Helen Mirren being one of them – who [made me think]: 'My God, does this play change? What happens if you make that role into a female role?'" Taymor held a reading and found that the story could accommodate the change of gender without being gimmicky.
In Shakespeare's play, Prospero was the Duke of Milan. In the adaptation, Prospera is the wife of the Duke. She is "more overtly wronged" than Prospero; when the duke dies, Prospera's brother Antonio (played by Chris Cooper) accuses her of killing him with witchcraft. Antonio makes the accusation to be rid of Prospera and claim her royal title. Taymor said, "She had her whole life taken away from her because she was a woman." Prospera wants to prevent the same thing from happening to her daughter.
Principal photography took place around volcanic areas of the big island of Hawaii and Lanai.
The Tempest premiered at the Venice Film Festival on September 11, 2010, as the festival's closing film. When Disney sold Miramax Films to Filmyard Holdings, LLC, Disney took over distribution through its division Touchstone Pictures. The film was released on December 10, 2010.
The film has received mixed to negative reviews from critics; Rotten Tomatoes maintains that 30% of 86 reviewers gave a positive review with an average score of 4.6/10. Entertainment Weekly said the film – "theatrically ambitious, musically busy, and in the end cinematically inert – clearly reflects the authorship of myth-loving director Julie Taymor." USA Today found that "Mirren keeps the film on track. But incomprehensible shouting and pointless shenanigans obscure subtle moments." In a similar vein, Newsweek said "the film's special effects, to a surprising extent, add little to the story", and that "next to the concise power of [Shakespeare's] language, the screen wizardry of even a resourceful director like Taymor seems like rough magic indeed". However, The New Yorker's David Denby pointed out the film's strengths, most particularly Helen Mirren's performance as Prospera: "Mirren has the range and power to play a woman with unprecedented control of the elements, and over men, too." Sandra Hall in The Sydney Morning Herald is more generous toward Taymor's vision, saying, "In the scene that explains the circumstances of mother and daughter's banishment from the dukedom of Milan, Taymor has skillfully tweaked Shakespeare's lines to take account of her new scenario", and praising the film's visual elements.