The Tempest (2010 film)

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The Tempest
The Tempest 2010 poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJulie Taymor
Screenplay byJulie Taymor
Based onThe Tempest
by William Shakespeare
Produced byJulie Taymor
Robert Chartoff
Lynn Hendee
Julia Taylor-Stanley
Jason K. Lau
StarringHelen Mirren
Russell Brand
Reeve Carney
Tom Conti
Chris Cooper
Alan Cumming
Djimon Hounsou
Felicity Jones
Alfred Molina
David Strathairn
Ben Whishaw
CinematographyStuart Dryburgh
Edited byFrançoise Bonnot
Music byElliot Goldenthal
Touchstone Pictures
Miramax Films
Chartoff/Hendee Productions
TalkStory Productions
Artemis Films
Mumbai Mantra Media Limited
Distributed byWalt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Release dates
  • September 11, 2010 (2010-09-11) (Venice)
  • December 10, 2010 (2010-12-10) (United States)
Running time
110 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$20 million[1]
Box office$346,594[1]

The Tempest is a 2010 American fantasy comedy-drama film based on the play of the same name by William Shakespeare. In this version, the gender of the main character, Prospero, is changed from male to female; the role was played by Helen Mirren. The film was written and directed by Julie Taymor and premiered at the Venice Film Festival on September 11, 2010.

Although The Tempest received generally mixed reviews from critics, Sandy Powell received her ninth Academy Award nomination for Best Costume Design.


Prospera, the duchess of Milan, is secretly denounced as a sorceress and usurped by her brother Antonio, with aid from Alonso, the King of Naples, and is cast off in a small boat to die with her three-year-old daughter Miranda. They survive, finding themselves stranded on an island where the human beast Caliban is the sole inhabitant. Prospera enslaves Caliban, frees the captive spirit Ariel and claims the island. After 12 years, Alonso sails back to his kingdom from the marriage of his daughter to the prince of Tunisia, accompanied by his son Ferdinand, his brother Sebastian and Antonio. Prospera, seizing her chance for revenge, with Ariel's help causes a tempest, wrecking the ship and stranding those on board on her island.



The film, based on the play of the same name by William Shakespeare, is written and directed by Julie Taymor. The play's main character is Prospero, who is male in the original play.[2] Taymor explained the casting decision, "I didn't really have a male actor that excited me in mind, and yet there had been a couple of phenomenal females – Helen Mirren being one of them – who [made me think]: 'My God, does this play change? What happens if you make that role into a female role?'" Taymor held a reading and found that the story could accommodate the change of gender without being gimmicky.[3]

In Shakespeare's play, Prospero was the Duke of Milan. In the adaptation, Prospera is the wife of the Duke. She is "more overtly wronged" than Prospero; when the duke dies, Prospera's brother Antonio (played by Chris Cooper) accuses her of killing him with witchcraft. Antonio makes the accusation to be rid of Prospera and claim her royal title. Taymor said, "She had her whole life taken away from her because she was a woman." Prospera wants to prevent the same thing from happening to her daughter.[4]

Principal photography took place around volcanic areas of the big island of Hawaii and Lanai.[4][5]


The Tempest premiered at the Venice Film Festival on September 11, 2010, as the festival's closing film. When Disney sold Miramax Films to Filmyard Holdings, LLC on December 3, 2010, Disney took over distribution through its division Touchstone Pictures. The film was released on December 10, 2010.[4]


The film has received mixed to negative reviews from critics; Rotten Tomatoes maintains that 30% of 89 reviewers gave a positive review with an average score of 4.69/10. The site's consensus states: "Director Julie Taymor's gender-swapping of roles and some frenzied special effects can't quite disguise an otherwise stagey, uninspired take on Shakespeare's classic."[6] It also has a score of 43 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 28 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[7]

Entertainment Weekly said the film – "theatrically ambitious, musically busy, and in the end cinematically inert – clearly reflects the authorship of myth-loving director Julie Taymor."[8] USA Today found that "Mirren keeps the film on track. But incomprehensible shouting and pointless shenanigans obscure subtle moments."[9] In a similar vein, Newsweek said "the film's special effects, to a surprising extent, add little to the story", and that "next to the concise power of [Shakespeare's] language, the screen wizardry of even a resourceful director like Taymor seems like rough magic indeed".[10] However, The New Yorker's David Denby pointed out the film's strengths, most particularly Helen Mirren's performance as Prospera: "Mirren has the range and power to play a woman with unprecedented control of the elements, and over men, too."[11] Sandra Hall in The Sydney Morning Herald is more generous toward Taymor's vision, saying, "In the scene that explains the circumstances of mother and daughter's banishment from the dukedom of Milan, Taymor has skillfully tweaked Shakespeare's lines to take account of her new scenario", and praising the film's visual elements.[12]


Award Date of ceremony Category Nominee Result
Academy Awards[13] February 27, 2011 Best Costume Design Sandy Powell Lost to Colleen Atwood (Alice in Wonderland)
Satellite Awards[14] December 19, 2010 Best Actress Helen Mirren Lost to Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The Tempest (2010)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  2. ^ "Mirren 'to star in Tempest film'". BBC News. Retrieved 22 July 2021.
  3. ^ Child, Ben (July 27, 2010). "Julie Taymor's The Tempest to close Venice film festival". The Guardian. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Breznican, Anthony (May 7, 2010). "First look: Helen Mirren in lead role in Julie Taymor's 'Tempest'". USA Today. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  5. ^ (December 13, 2010), "The Tempest". Time. 176 (24):86.
  6. ^ "The Tempest". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  7. ^ "The Tempest (2010)". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  8. ^ Schwarzbaum, Lisa (December 17, 2010), "The Tempest". Entertainment Weekly. (1133):65.
  9. ^ Puig, Claudia (December 10, 2010). "Shakespeare Gets Lost in 'Tempest'". USA Today.
  10. ^ McCarter, Jeremy (December 6, 2010), "THE ONE...If You Need to Brush Up on Your Shakespeare". Newsweek. 156 (23):52-53.
  11. ^ Denby, David (December 20, 2010). "Roundup". The New Yorker.
  12. ^ Hall, Sandra (April 21, 2011). "The Tempest". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  13. ^ "Nominees for the 83rd Academy Awards". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  14. ^ "2010 Nominations". International Press Academy. Retrieved July 22, 2021.

External links[edit]