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Timeless With Universal Theme
"‘The Tempest' is fantastical and tremendously dark at the same time,” says Felicity Jones. "It attempts to show us human nature at the extremes of both goodness and depravity. And just in terms of sheer entertainment, it has tremendous comedy and sweet romance. It's full of contrast. You move from romance to drunken cavorting, and it never stops. It has a tremendous pace.”

Cumming concurs, adding that the film has something for everyone. "It's a good rollicking tale that starts out with a big crazy shipwreck and has this great structure about all these people thinking the other is dead and then coming together. At its core, it's about a woman coming back into the world and making peace with it as she realizes she's coming to the end of her life. It's got laughter; it's got tears, a love story, a family reunion. It has clowns who learn their lessons and slaves who are freed. Above all, it has wonderful mystical elements.” "‘The Tempest' also embodies the emotional complexity of a great family story,” adds Strathairn. "Regardless of the sex of the Prospero/ Prospera character, the issues at hand remain the same: parenting, leadership, the relinquishing of power and the humility that comes with age. It's also about man's engagement with the forces of nature. That's what makes this play forever relevant.”

For Conti, it's the humanity and sheer entertainment value that make "The Tempest” resonate. "Shakespeare's fundamental philosophy is that people do things for a reason. If you understand the reason, then you'll better understand the people and perhaps be less frightened of them. That's a very modern concept.”

And "The Tempest” entertains through its use of magic. "Magic's always a good crowd puller, isn't it?” Conti asks rhetorically. "And Shakespeare knew that, too. Prospera learns magic to further her desires, to get back her dukedom. It's good magic, good fun. Julie Taymor obviously has an interest in magic, as you can tell from her other work, and she's able to investigate it more thoroughly here.”

There's a reason that this particular play is performed countless times every year around the world, notes Taymor. "It's such a great, magical story, and if you look at the films that are popular now, whether it be ‘Avatar' or ‘Alice in Wonderland' or any of the comic-book films, the audience loves the fabulous and the fantastical that are, at the same time, stories of human revenge and the dark powers. ‘The Tempest' has all that rolled up into one.”


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