I'm moved to write this after spending a few minutes this morning reading the New York Times eviscerate Ms. Taymor's Broadway production of Spiderman. For at least two months now, I've held the belief her excellent version of The Tempest would somehow fall in the shadow cast by the controversy of her current work on Broadway. --After viewing the movie myself, I'm not sure it is collateral damage in the war between Ms. Taymor and the media or, perhaps, it simply hasn't earned the media's attention on its own merits. But, regarding its merits, we need to notice somethings before the lights dim and the first reel threads through the machine.
Ms. Taymor has earned our attention and respect. Her collected work in film is original and striking. Where do we being? Frida? Titus? Across the Universe? Pick three. Pick two. Pick ust one and you hold a reason for you to pay attention to what ever Ms. Taymor decides to do next. Just within the realm of Shakespeare, her vision of Titus is unforgettable and purchases my constant interest.
The Tempest isn't a perfect film but I won't dwell on it's shortcomings. I mention this just to signal I'm not a relentless fanboy and, perhaps, persuade you I have a balanced point-of-view. On the other hand, Ms. Taymor's production of The Tempest has forever changed how I understand and respond to the work. Just one small change in interpretation changes my reckoning: Casting Helen Mirren as Prospera. Honestly, I will never be able to experience The Tempest ever again without thinking how much better it works with Prospera instead of Prospero. Prospera's relationship with Caliban, Miranda, Gonzalo and Ariel ... every relationship makes so much more sense and feels more genuine. I left the theater thinking to myself that this was, without a doubt, what Shakespeare had intended but unable to stage due to his time and the public's taste.
It is a shame and a pity The Tempest didn't enjoy a wider release because the public has missed the opportunity to experience the film as Ms. Taymor intended. On the other hand, I'm absolutely certain The Tempest will survive a very long time as the best way into the play for thousands of English Lit students.
Overall, I'm not treking to Broadway to see Spiderman as I don't understand the comic book genre, but am quite interested in anything Ms. Taymor touches next.
Now, if we could just persuade Ms. Taymor to tackle Julius Caesar.