Prospero's Books (1991)

[****]

Peter Greenaway takes on The Tempest, and the result is even more of a feast for the eyes than The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover. Because Greenaway is working familiar Shakespearean territory, he and cohort Sacha Vierny run wild with the visuals, embedding frames within frames, composing each shot like an independent work of art, and flanking the main action with acres of naked human flesh. John Gielgud's performance as Prospero (and just about everyone else) is wonderful, and Michael Nymanís layered, minimalist score enhances the multi-layered spectacle.

Since Miramax has provided us with only poorly-framed, fuzzy video copies for our viewing pleasure, try and see this on a proper screen if it shows on a campus or at an art house near you. Good luck: Greenaway's next film, The Baby of Macon, has yet to receive a proper theatrical or video release in the U.S.


Science Fiction, Fantasy and Otherwise: 10 Hypnotic Film Experiences
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Reviews by Bryant Frazer
bryant@deep-focus.com