‘Our revels now are ended’: The Tempest (1979)
in Derek Jarman
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Although Jarman discussed further projects with James Whaley and Howard Malin, his relationship with them was cooling and they declined any involvement in the first steps he was taking towards making a film about the Baroque painter Caravaggio. Jarman's strong interest in Shakespeare was in some respects entirely normal and predictable for someone of his social background and education. Jarman took from the writings of Frances Yates the idea that when Shakespeare wrote The Tempest in 1611. More than anything else, Jarman's Tempest is a truly 'magical' film which manages to make most stage productions look overly literal and leaden-footed and which eludes most of the traps set by academic criticism. When, shortly after Jarman's HIV positive diagnosis in 1986, he deliberately broke 'Prospero's wand, Dee's hieroglyphic monad', the magic staff which had been used in the film, he was to die just after his 52nd birthday.


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