The Tempest With a Twist and the Nobel in Literature

One of the reasons for the endurance of the works of William Shakespeare is their ability to be adapted in many different ways. Romeo and Juliet has been set in during the Civil War and in Chicago’s ganglands of the 1920s. The Comedy of Errors got the 1970s disco treatment. Richard III was once produced with all the characters in black leather.

Now The Tempest is getting a new twist.

Helen Mirren has taken on the traditionally male role of Prospero, the powerful magician. Filmmaker Julie Taymor says she changed the character from Prospero to Prospera because she wanted Mirren for the role.

IMDB offers this summary of the new film:

Going back to the 16th or 17th century, women practicing the magical arts of alchemy were often convicted of witchcraft. In Taymor’s version, Prospera is usurped by her brother and sent off with her four-year daughter on a ship. She ends up on an island; it’s a tabula rasa: no society, so the mother figure becomes a father figure to Miranda. This leads to the power struggle and balance between Caliban and Prospera; a struggle not about brawn, but about intellect.

The movie will be in wide release on December 10, 2010.  You can watch the trailer here.

In other news, the Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Peruvian novelist, playwright, essayist and cultural critic Mario Vargas Llosa. Llosa’s works span over forty years, from  The Time of the Hero (1963),  to The Bad Girl (2007). He is one of the most acclaimed writers in the Spanish-speaking world and a tireless activist who has braved violence for his political positions. Llosa also ran for president.

A man of humility, it is reported that Llosa believed the call from the Nobel committee was a joke when he picked up the phone. He nearly hung up, but the caller managed to convince the author that he indeed had won.