Julie Taymor’s The Tempest

Alan A. Stone in the Boston Review:

Stone_36_2_tempest There were high hopes for Julie Taymor’s The Tempest. She had a track record, having rescued one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays, Titus Andronicus, from the waste heap of Elizabethan theater where academics such as Harold Bloom thought it belonged. Bloom called it a “poetic atrocity” and claimed the role of Titus was not “playable, except as parody.” But Taymor’s cinematic miracle made Shakespeare’s genius visible. On her screen we discovered archetypes of some of Shakespeare’s greatest characters, and her Titus (Anthony Hopkins) found a way to play his part after all. With Titus she achieved what even celebrated directors rarely can: a modern and lasting interpretation of a Shakespeare play. It is impossible now to think about Titus Andronicus without seeing it through her lens.

The greatest modernizer of Shakespeare for American theater was, like Taymor, a woman. Margaret Webster rediscovered the full-length Hamlet, with Maurice Evans, decades before Kenneth Branagh. She then teamed the marvelous Paul Robeson with Uta Hagen in the first realistic Othello and made theater history. And in 1945 she saved from obscurity the Tempest, rarely performed in the United States at the time, and gave it a post-colonial spin.

More here.