"Tempest" is a somewhat self-indulgent, uneven, discursive movie. But as Lord Byron, another visitor to Greece, protested to his friend John Murray about his similarly self-indulgent and discursive "Don Juan," "It may be profligate but is it not life, is it not the thing?"
The connections to Shakespeare's "Tempest" may seem, as another commentator here claims, a bit tenuous. But watch the film again after re-reading "The Tempest," and they'll seem far closer. What makes this film flawed is its uneasy mixture of straightforward normal narrative and sudden jarring apparent improvisation, particularly between Cassavetes and Rowland. But to be honest, these scenes are the most remarkable and gripping in the film, if the hardest to watch.
The music of this film, composed by Stomu Yamashta, is also overlooked. Particularly fine is the perfect little piece played to accompany the afternoon siesta, as people, animals, and seemingly the entire island collapse to sleep away the hottest part of the afternoon. It's a sublime moment, and representative of the best aspect of this movie and the one thing that keeps it somewhat unified, the fact that (aside from extensive flashbacks and the very end) it is the story of one day on an island, from awakening to night.
Overall, I'd rather watch this film a hundred times than see some bombastic Hollywood piece of crap once. And in fact, I probably have watched it several dozen times. Most times, I see something I missed before.
(Confession: I'm biased. This was the second movie I took my Greek-American goddess wife to see.)
Trivia notes on this flick:
- It was Molly Ringwald's first movie, as well as Sam Robards';
- It was actually not filmed on an island, but in Gytheion, the southern tip of the remote Mani peninsula of the Peloponnesus of Greece;
- The (by today's standards) primitive special effects were done by Bran Ferren, who later became head of Disney Imagineering, and still later was an adviser to the US intelligence community;
- Paul Mazursky, the director, chose the title of his recent autobiography, "Show Me the Magic," from the script of "Tempest."