|Directed by||Peter Greenaway|
|Produced by||Masato Hara
|Written by||Peter Greenaway|
|Music by||Michael Nyman|
|Edited by||Marina Rodbyl|
|Release date(s)||30 August 1991 (UK)|
|Running time||129 minutes|
Prospero's Books (1991), written and directed by Peter Greenaway, is a cinematic adaptation of The Tempest, by William Shakespeare. John Gielgud is Prospero, the protagonist who provides the off-screen narration and the voices to the other story characters. Stylistically, Prospero's Books is narratively and cinematically innovative in its techniques, combining mime, dance, opera, and animation. Edited in Japan, the film makes extensive (and pioneering) use of digital image manipulation (using Hi-Vision video inserts and the Paintbox system), often overlaying multiple moving and still pictures with animations. Michael Nyman composed the musical score and Karine Saporta choreographed the dance. The film is also notable for its extensive use of nudity, reminiscent of Renaissance paintings of mythological characters. The nude actors and extras represent a cross-section of male and female humanity.
The daughter of Prospero, an exiled magician, falls in love with the son of his enemy, while the sorcerer's sprite, Ariel, convinces him to abandon revenge against the traitors from his earlier life. In the film, Prospero stands in for Shakespeare, and is seen writing and speaking the story's action as it unfolds. Prospero's Books is a complex tale based upon William Shakespeare's The Tempest.
Ariel is played by four actors — three acrobats: a boy, an adolescent, and a youth, and a boy singer. Each represents a classical elemental. The boy represents water, and is often shown endlessly urinating.
- John Gielgud – Prospero
- Michael Clark – Caliban
- Michel Blanc – Alonso
- Erland Josephson – Gonzalo
- Isabelle Pasco – Miranda
- Tom Bell – Antonio
- Kenneth Cranham – Sebastian
- Mark Rylance – Ferdinand
- Gerard Thoolen – Adrian
- Pierre Bokma – Francisco
- Jim van der Woude – Trinculo
- Michiel Romeyn – Stephano
- Paul Russell – Ariel
- James Thiérrée – Ariel
Production and financing
John Gielgud said a film of The Tempest (as Prospero, as he had been in four stage productions in 1931, 1940, 1957, and 1974) was his life's ambition. He had approached Alain Resnais, Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa, and Orson Welles about directing him in it, Benjamin Britten to compose its score, and Albert Finney to be Caliban, before Greenaway agreed. The closest the earlier attempts came to being made was in 1967, with Welles as both director and as Caliban to Gielgud's Prospero, but after the commercial failure of Welles and Gielgud's Shakespearean film collaboration, Chimes at Midnight, financing for a cinematic The Tempest collapsed.
This was the last of the collaborations between director Peter Greenaway and composer Michael Nyman. Most of the film's music cues, (excepting Ariel's songs and the Masque) are from an earlier concert, La Traversée de Paris and the score from A Zed & Two Noughts. The soundtrack album is Nyman's sixteenth release.
Michael Nyman Band
|Soundtrack album by Michael Nyman|
|Released||November 12, 1991|
|Recorded||PRT Studios and Abbey Road Studios, London|
|Genre||Soundtrack, Contemporary classical, art song, Minimalist music|
|Michael Nyman chronology|
- Produced by David Cunningham
- Engineer: Michael J. Dutton
- Assistant engineer: Dillon Gallagher (PRT), Chris Brown (Abbey Road Studios)
- Mixed by Michael J. Dutton, Michael Nyman, and David Cunningham at PRT Studios and Abbey Road Studios
- Edited at Abbey Road Studios by Peter Mew
- Art Direction: Ann Bradbeer
- Photography: Marc Guillamot
- Design: Creative Partnership
- Artist representative: Don Mousseau
- Sir John Gielgud: A Life in Letters, Arcade Publishing (2004)
- "Festival de Cannes: Prospero's Books". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-08-12.