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This modern retelling of William Shakespeare's final masterpiece is an exciting, mystical and magical fantasy with Academy Award®-winner Helen Mirren (Best Actress, The Queen, 2006) leading a star-studded cast including Russell Brand (Get Him To The Greek) and Alfred Molina (The Sorcerer's Apprentice). Exiled to a magical island, the sorceress Prospera (Mirren) conjures up a storm that shipwrecks her enemies, and then unleashes her powers for revenge. Directed by the visionary Academy Award®-nominated Julie Taymor (Best Director, Frida, 2002) - and complete with exclusive bonus features - The Tempest, with its innovative twist, is a supernatural dramedy filled with Shakespearean villains, lovers and fools that will leave you spellbound.
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But I'm going to sell this rotten blu-ray disc the second I can get the DVD.
I've waited a year, and I got the blu-ray because I just couldn't stand to wait any longer for the DVD. The film on it is wonderful, but the blu-ray that carries the film is horrible: It fails to load promptly on my old player, and what it does slowly load is bloody awful advertising for Pirates of the Carribean. What junk! The instructions displayed to skip around the advertising (which is not what I paid for) make this blu-ray hang up the player if I tap either of the 2 menu keys it says to use; the third key it doesn't say to tap aborts the junk. The blu-ray usually hangs-up the player on the second feature played, and it always hangs the player when I try to play the 'Los Angeles Rehearsal' feature. And of course, the blu-ray won't re-start where it was when I quit for an hour's break.
The problem is not the player, it's the studio's nasty java-based copy protection software embedded on the blu-ray disc. The recently-purchased David Attenborough 'Madagascar' blu-ray plays with no troubles (no java).
I recommend waiting for the DVD if you can stand it; the film is strikingly visual, but I don't think it needs to be high-res for the beauty of the film to come through. On the other hand, if you only will settle for blu-ray resolution, you can buy my copy of this awful disc very cheaply once 'The Tempest' on DVD is available.
As a literature professor who has been teaching The Tempest for a decade now, I have always been singularly bemused by the lack of a filmed version that really captures the magical spirit of the play. The old TV Richard Burton show is well-acted but silly, the BBC version has great actors but terrible, flat production values, Prospero's Books is brilliant but incomprehensible to all but those who know the play intimately, Derek Jarman's version is terribly dated and, despite being a good "film," just doesn't work as The Tempest, in my opinion. The other, "scholastic" releases are plagued by poor production and/or undistinguished acting. And I won't even bother with "adaptations" of the plot, such as Forbidden Planet or Cassavettes's Tempest.
Until this version, the only truly excellent version of The Tempest was the HBO animated one, but at 25 minutes, not much of Shakespeare's story remained intact.
Just last week I had the great pleasure of seeing Julie Taymor's The Tempest in London. It was absolutely amazing. The magic was there! The acting, for the most part, was brilliant. The script contained enough of the actual play's language that the minor tweakings to make it easier for contemporary audiences did not bother me a bit. The visuals were absolutely stunning. The movie was a joy from start to finish. I can't wait to see it again--repeatedly--to savor all the special moments over and again. My only regret is that my students will be unable to see it this year due to the late release date.
[REVISION NOTE: This year's students had the opportunity to see this version, and they overwhelmingly LOVED it. It brought the play to life for them. At last, I no longer have to convince them that The Tempest really IS a great play! 01/19/12]
If you love Shakespeare, and if you enjoy movie adaptations of the plays, DO NOT MISS THIS ONE!