In 1998, I had the pleasure to see one of American theater’s great dramas, Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh, staged at one of the grand old theater houses of London’s West End, the Old Vic, where Kevin Spacey was then headlining in the role of doomed interventioner (and erstwhile salesman) Theodore “Hickey” Hickman. I’ve reread the play a couple times over the years, including this past week. This most recent reading uncovered some of the plays more deeply held pleasures—well, deeply held from me, that is—and I’d like to talk about ‘em. Maybe during this discussion, I’ll discover why I keep returning to O’Neill’s depressing world of drunks, addicts, layabouts, and ne’er-do-wells.
Despite some excellent performances, Julie Taymor’s take on Shakespeare’s swan song doesn’t quite work.
SPOILERS AHEAD!!! SPOILERS AHEAD!!! SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
I love Julie Taymor. I don’t always love her movies.
Watching her lavish new adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest brought me back to a lot of things — my adoration of the play, my impatience with the play, my early days writing for CC2K. I also found myself reflecting on the strengths and weaknesses of film versus theater and how they challenge filmmakers who try to usher Shakespeare’s plays onto the screen.
I also found myself contemplating the role of special effects in moviemaking and how computer-generated effects still have the capacity to fail so utterly. I hate to shine so harsh a light on the special effects in a Shakespeare movie, but The Tempest is packed with some jaw-droppingly bad ones. They got in the way, when they should have helped the movie soar.