Prospero's Books

Watch Prospero's Books

"A magician's spell, the innocence of young love and a dream of revenge unite to create a tempest."
  • R
  • 1991
  • 2 hr 9 min
  • 6.8  (6,678)

Prospero's Books is a 1991 film adaptation of William Shakespeare's play "The Tempest," directed by Peter Greenaway. The movie tells the story of Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan who, after many years on an isolated island, seeks revenge on those who wronged him by using his magical powers. The film is a visual splendor, with stunning imagery and extravagant sets. It is shot entirely in a studio, with Greenaway utilizing digital technology to create a backdrop of images that range from waterfalls, rocky cliffs, gardens, and underwater landscapes. The use of color and lighting adds to the transcendental beauty of the movie, making it an aesthetically pleasing experience.

John Gielgud plays the role of Prospero, and his performance is one of the highlights of the movie. Gielgud brings the character to life with his commanding presence, powerful voice, and subtle expressions. He captures the essence of the character, portraying him as a complex, multi-dimensional protagonist whose actions are driven by a desire for revenge, redemption and the desire to reconcile with his past.

As the plot unfolds, we see Prospero summoning spirits and using his magic to manipulate the events on the island. He is soon faced with Caliban (Michael Clark), a misshapen creature who seeks freedom from slavery, and whose character is also multi-layered, challenging the audience's preconceptions of good and evil.

The other notable performance in the movie is that of Michel Blanc, who plays Ariel, the spirit who owes Prospero his freedom. Blanc's portrayal of Ariel is captivating, as he moves about the screen, creating illusions and performing tricks, reminding us of how powerful imagination can be in storytelling.

The movie's pace is slow, allowing the audience to absorb the details of the imagery and themes. It combines various styles of art, including painting, sculpture, and music, to create a choreographed masterpiece. The music is unforgettable and has been described as hypnotic and otherworldly. The use of chanting monks, operatic vocals, and electronic soundscapes add to the eerie and mystical atmosphere of the film.

Prospero's Books is not a movie for everyone. It is an avant-garde interpretation of Shakespeare's play, and hence, it may not attract traditionalists. However, for lovers of experimental cinema, this movie is a feast for the senses. The film's themes are universal, addressing notions of power, love, and the tragedy of the human condition.

In conclusion, Prospero's Books is a beautiful, imaginative and visually arresting interpretation of Shakespeare's classic work. The creative genius of Peter Greenaway, combined with the exceptional performances of the cast, make it a cinematic masterpiece. It pushes the boundaries of filmmaking, challenging conventions and expanding the viewer's understanding of storytelling.

Prospero's Books is a 1991 fantasy movie with a runtime of 2 hours and 9 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.8.

Prospero's Books
Where to Watch Prospero's Books
Prospero's Books is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Apple TV, Amazon and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Prospero's Books for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    2 hr 9 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.8  (6,678)