51. Peter Greenaway’s Prospero’s Books [The Tempest] (1991)
Peter Greenaway’s Prospero’s Books is the most visionary adaptation of Shakespeare that I have ever seen, and that declaration is made with all due consideration to Julie Taymor’s amazing film of Titus Andronicus. Prospero’s Books may be the most underrated film of all time. And yet your rogue has taken more than a year to get to this gem in this blog, in part because of the demands that the film makes upon the viewer. The Tempest is such a strange play—any straightforward adaptation must fail because of how sublime Shakespeare’s conception was in his final outing as a solo playwright.
Peter Greenaway understands that the storm in this play is a metaphor for the psyche of a wise old man approaching the end of his life. This Prospero’s story may be happening entirely in his own mind. Either that, or…
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