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The Tempest

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The Tempest 1979 15

95 mins United Kingdom

Brooding and darkly laden with symbolic imagery, Derek Jarman’s terrific third feature is considered by some to be the most evocative Shakespeare adaptation ever to reach the screen. Rich images of shining gold and dark water dominate, while furtive magus Prospero converses with a spirit from the beyond.

Made on a characteristically tiny budget, The Tempest had long been a labour of love for Jarman and his flamboyant and highly personal take on the text is an overwhelming rejoinder to Shakespearean traditionalists.

The director’s contrary approach to casting sees Toyah Wilcox as Miranda and the unusually young professional magician Heathcote Williams as Prospero; but it’s Elisabeth Welch who steals the show in the film’s celebrated climax, with her utterly delicious rendition of ‘Stormy Weather.’

Start watching in: 30 days

Finish watching in: 48 hours


Christopher Biggins

Toyah Willcox

Heathcote Williams




Tempest, The (play)


Derek Jarman Shakespeare on Film LGBT Britain






United Kingdom



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Toyah Willcox discusses working with Derek Jarman on The Tempest, in which she plays Miranda, and considers the director’s legacy.

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