Today, I conquered The Tempest! Well, not so much conquered The Tempest to the extent of knowing it in and out but rather, conquered the large reader’s block in my mind that Shakespeare was unreadable for the common soul and would be drab and boring. Far from it! I was duly enthralled by the Bard’s Tempest today, and for daring to take my first step towards Shakespeare, achievement unlocked!
I have to confess I did it with the help of the 2010 movie by Julie Taymor starring Helen Mirren and Felicity Jones. I thought I might die solely reading this oldish English and thus kill off any hopes of enjoying Shakespeare. Thanks to technology, there were plenty of audio-visual aids, many productions of The Tempest available for me. I picked the Helen Mirren one because I thought I needed a modern production of the play. Not modern in the sense where the actors were wearing suits and ties and set in a modern context but more of a modern production of something set in the olden days. Helen Mirren was a plus. Absolutely adored her voice acting in Monsters University. Yes, she stood out so much for me even just by voicing a character. I was so impressed.
I noted, of course, that for the movie, she would be portraying Prospero as Prospera, a gender switch from Shakespeare’s protagonist sorcerer. I did wonder if it would be ‘dangerous’ for me to understand the play first hand with a female Prospera. The first taste of anything was pretty important. I enjoyed it very much, though. Just have to keep at the back of my mind that Prospero is a dude whenever I’m referring to the play itself. The movie was slightly adapted from the play. Some dialogue from the play was cut and there were no other spirits (Iris, Ceres and Juno) and no other lords (Adrian and Francisco). Everything else was pretty much more or less the same.
I actually went through a children’s book on Shakespeare before diving straight into the play. I wanted to know the story, the plot, before anything else. I didn’t want to get lost in the middle of the oldish English. So with that set in my head, mostly trying not to mix Alonso and Antonio up, I went through the movie with the play in hand and watched and read.
The English did need some getting used to but when I got it, I just felt, wow. It’s like understanding a secret code, a different language you never thought you’d understand. It’s kind of empowering. Then after you get past that stage, you start paying attention to what they were saying, and feeling awesome all the while because you actually know what’s happening while everyone speaks in oldish English. There were moments when I start and stopped the movie to just read what had been said because I missed something or didn’t quite get something else. It’s easy to miss things because there can be so much said but said lightly as we speak today, carelessly, that I just miss something. And after the whole movie, your thoughts start to sound weird. They start to construct themselves using oldish English which is funny and ridiculous and I’m just glad they only do it in the privacy of my mind hohoho. It’s hilarious because every trivial thing will be made to sound like something of utmost importance.
This will not be an academic study on The Tempest. I am most unqualified to do so as of now. I only decided to do this whole Tempest thing because it will be covered in school later on. I’m glad I did it though. This whole post will really mostly on my reaction towards The Tempest movie.
Continue reading “First Taste of the Bard’s Tempest”