Here's news about high-definition video recordings of opera, ballet, classical music, plays, fine-art documentaries, and paintings. I call these recordings "HDVDs." In the journal below are independent (and hard-to-find critical) reports on hundreds of HDVDs. Pick the best titles for your excelsisphere.

October 15. We are getting again into symphony titles and the existential issue of DVDitis. I just posted a story on a Mahler 2 recording at the Gewandhaus that might be considered DOA from the dread plague.

I recently put up a story about the 3rd version (!) of the same Giselle production published by Opus Arte. I recently posted a story about the Ekman Midsummer Night's Dream ballet (which has nothing to do with Shakespeare). I also just posted two stories about Shakespeare's The Tempest. The first is a definitive stage play version by the RSC. The second is an updated review of The Tempest movie staring Helen Mirren as Prospera (the female version of Prospero). The movie is streamlined - try it first. Then move on to the RSC "real deal", which is probably the best The Tempest ever made for home viewing.


Entries in Miramax (1)


The Tempest

Shakespeare The Tempest motion picture. Juli Taymor wrote the screen play, produced, and directed this film seen in theaters in 2010. Stars Helen Mirren (Prospera), Russell Brand (Trinculo), Reeve Carney (Ferdinand), Tom Conti (Gonzalo), Chris Cooper (Antonio), Alan Cumming (Sebastian), Djimon Hounsou (Caliban), Felicity Jones (Miranda), Alfred Molina (Stephano), David Strathairn (Alonso), and Ben Whishaw (Ariel). Music by Elliot Goldenthal; costumes by Sandy Powell; cinematography by Stuart Dryburgh; editing by Françoise Bonnot. As is often the case with movie discs, this title includes interesting extras about the making of the film. Released 2011, disc has 5.1 Dolby Digital sound.  Grade: B+

William Shakespeare and Harry Potter spent a night in a tavern drinking mead. They decided to change the Prospero in The Tempest to Prospera. To help modern viewers with shrink-wrapped imaginations, they added lots of computer-generated special effects. The result is a beautiful film with excellent acting and impressive productions values shot in a striking Hawaiian landscape. The sex-change operation isn't as significant as you might think. In addition to the changes, about 20% of Shakespeare's text is cut to get rid of obscure passages and tighten up the movie. People who don't know the play can probably follow this version quite well and find it entertaining. True, the result shows how hard it is even with clever, modern resources to render in high-definition images the power of suggestion of poetry. But on the other hand, we have no confirmed intelligence that any viewer (snob or not) has been harmed by this movie.

In my 3000-page complete Shakespeare Plays, annotator A.L. Rowse states in his critical introduction to The Tempest, "To do [many scenes in the play] justice---perhaps to realize the play as a whole---one needs the resources of film." The introduction of Prospera shows just what cinema can do compared to a stage play:

Wild angle shots aren't all cinema can do though; close ups are used as well:

Below is an example of visual effects used in the film with Ariel attacking the ship:

And next below is we see Alonso and his cohort emerge from the water---hard to put an ocean on a stage:

More visual trickery as Prospera interacts with an ethereal Ariel:

Prospera and Miranda above, Caliban below:

Next are two shots of the comedy trio of Stephano, Trinculo, and Caliban:

Rich warm brown tones and lush greens show the variety of scenery the film uses:


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