The Sea Venture was a 17th-century English sailing ship that was shipwreck near Bermuda; and it is believed to have been the inspiration for the play “The Tempest,” which was not considered a great piece of theatre in 1642.   However, in the 20th century, critics and scholars have herald the play as one of Shakespeare’s greatest works. An interesting 1982  modern film version of the tale was directed by Paul Mazursky with memorable performances by John Cassavetes, Gena Rowlands, and  Raul Julia.

In the latest Miramax and Touchstone big-screen production of “The Tempest,” Helen Mirren defies Sarah Bernhard’s reputation as the greatest female actress to play Shakespearean male leads. In this adaptation of Julie Taymor’s version of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”, Mirren surpasses all revered previous performances by actors who played Prospero.  Mirren’s gender-deflying performance as Prospera is eloquent, passionate and riveting. Ben Whishaw performance as Ariel is entrancing; and through the genius and visionary direction of Julie Taymor, Whishaw is truly a spirit of fantastical magic.  Djimon Hounsou as Caliban is powerful with his character providing and incomparable terror for vengeance throughout the drama.

A spectacular elaborate special effect sequence is what creates “…such stuff as dreams are made of” and it crafts the 110 minutes of film into an inventive romantic thriller. The surreal imagery, created by Julie Taymor’s extensive study of Japanese theatre and classical opera makes the film one of the best classical Shakespearean dramas ever produced.   “The Tempest” was shot on location in Hawaii and screened at the Hawaii International Film Festival due to the producing efforts of Jason K. Lau and partners of Talk Story Productions.  Julie Taymor’s version of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” opens in theatres in December of 2010.  See you at the Oscars!

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