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DVD Review: The Tempest

July 12, 2011

The Tempest – An eOne Films’ Release

DVD Release Date: July 12th, 2011

Rated PG

Running time: 131 minutes

Des McAnuff (dir.)

Based on the stage play by William Shakespeare

Michael Roth (music)

Christopher Plummer as Prospero

Trish Lindstrom as Miranda

Julyana Soelistyo as Ariel

Our reviews below:

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The Tempest DVD Review By John C.

*** (out of 4)

Filmed in glorious high-definition by director Des McAnuff while it was on stage at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, The Tempest is now available on DVD.  Starring Christopher Plummer as Prospero, this is a beautifully done production of the oft told text that makes brilliant use of its simple wooden stage and scarce props.

Although some of the experiences of a live production are understandably lost in translation, watching it on DVD really is one of the next best things to actually being in attendance.  Christopher Plummer is enchanting to watch in the leading role as he delivers the sort of performance that other stage actors would envy, and that is the main reason why Des McAnuff’s The Tempest is worth seeking out on DVD.

The DVD includes no bonus features.

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The Tempest DVD Review by Erin V.  

***1/2 (out of 4)

Although it seems futile to synopsis a Shakespeare play, The Tempest is the story of Prospero, Duke of Milan, who was marooned on a desert island (along with his young daughter) years before, by his brother who wanted his title.  On a fateful day when his brother’s ship comes into view, with the help of the spirit Ariel, Prospero raises a storm to crash them into the water and wash them ashore so he can finally confront those who turned against him.

The simplicity of the sets here is soon forgotten by the second act as we focus on the story and performances.  The production is brilliantly acted by Christopher Plummer as lead Prospero, and his supporting cast are all good in their roles as well.

This filming of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s performance of The Tempest is well worth a watch on DVD.  Just a note – there is an intermission card that comes on the screen at 90 minutes into the 131 minute running time for those who wish to take a short break.

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The Tempest DVD Review By Nicole

*** (out of 4)

In this day of realistic special effects, it is a nice break to see a production that leaves room for the imagination.  With no scenery and very few props, this production of The Tempest relies on the actors to bring Shakespeare’s beloved fairy tale to life.  Christopher Plummer shines as Propsero, along with the rest of the cast.  The Tempest is a magical experience that is sure to delight Shakespeare fans.

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The Tempest DVD Review By Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

Filmed before a live audience at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, The Tempest on DVD is the next best thing for those of us who didn’t have the privilege of seeing Canadian icon Christopher Plummer’s brilliant portrayal of Prospero in person.

There is something magical about seeing Shakespeare’s tale of drama and fantasy brought to life on stage with minimal sets or props and only the talent of the actors to keep it alive.  With a running time of 131-minutes, on DVD those not accustomed to the pace of a Shakespearean stage play can pause between acts.  The Tempest DVD is a nice addition for Stratford fans and a must see for students studying theatre.

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The Tempest DVD Review By Tony

***1/2 (out of 4)

The Tempest, Shakespeare’s last play, has had two film treatments in the past year, the more famous (and controversial) from Julie Taymor with Helen Mirren as “Prospera” leading an all-star cast. The other one, now available on DVD (with no extras), is from the Stratford [ON] Festival, since 1953 arguably North America’s best Shakespeare company unsurpassed in England or anywhere else. Christopher Plummer is as good as expected leading an ensemble of fine stage actors directed by the distinguished Des McAnuff and Shelagh O’Brien during a live performance from the Festival Theatre’s thrust stage.

The simplicity of the Stratford stage forces us to concentrate on the actors and Shakespeare’s words, much as in his day, with technology used only to enhance the story. For example, the opening storm scene is depicted with lighting, tilting projections, and sailors hanging from ropes. The stage contains rising elements, trap doors, and a turntable, all used sparingly, and there are just a few props. With her pale blue colouring, the petite sprite Ariel (Julyana Soelistyo) is convincingly invisible to all but Prospero.

Having read over the play (on a free ipod app), I can say that this version is just about word perfect, making it a valuable educational resource. For those unfamiliar with Shakespeare or intimidated by school texts full of weird spellings and footnotes, a good production like this one with fine actors bringing the words to life is really not too difficult to follow, and well worth the effort.

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Consensus: Filmed in beautiful high-definition before a live audience, director Des McAnuff’s production of The Tempest at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival is impressive to watch on DVD, with a brilliant performance from Christopher Plummer in the leading role of Prospero.  ***1/4 (Out of 4)

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