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Monday, August 25, 2008

Prospero's Books (1991)



A magician's spell, the innocence of young love and a dream of revenge unite to create a tempest.

Prospero's Books (1991), written and directed by Peter Greenaway, is a cinematic adaptation of The Tempest, by William Shakespeare. John Gielgud is Prospero, the protagonist who provides the off-screen narration and the voices to the other story characters. Stylistically, Prospero's Books is narratively and cinematically innovative in its techniques, combining mime, dance, operatic set pieces, and animation. The film makes extensive (and pioneering) use of digital image manipulation (using the Paintbox system), often overlaying multiple moving and still pictures with animations. Michael Nyman composed the musical score and Karine Saporta choreographed the dance. The film is also notable for its extensive use of nudity, displayed with a naturist ethos in keeping with the work's key themes. (i.e. The nude actors and extras represent a realistic cross-section of male and female humanity.) Wiki

I will not comment on the technical merits of the DVD pressing as other reviewers have done. As a piece of art, this movie is truly outstanding. The Tempest is one of Shakespeare's lsat plays, and its themes are love, compassion, the quest for knowledge & power, and finally subduing the ego and finding peace. Greenaway's version is "arty", maybe, but it is gorgeous, well-written, intellectually intriguing, and unique. Gielgud narrates and he is incomparable. Watch it! By D.S.Nelson

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