The Tempest is a 2010 American comedy-drama film based on the play of the same name by William Shakespeare, featuring Helen Mirren in the principal role of Prospera, David Strathairn as King Alonso, Djimon Hounsou as Caliban, and Russell Brand as Trinculo. The film is directed by Julie Taymor and premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September 2010. Sandy Powell received her ninth Academy Award nomination for Best Costume Design.


Prospera, the duchess of Milan, is usurped by her brother Antonio and is cast off on a raft to die with her four-year-old daughter Miranda. They survive, finding themselves stranded on an island where the beast Caliban is the sole inhabitant. Prospera enslaves Caliban and claims the island. After 12 years, Alonso, the King of Naples, sails back to his kingdom from the marriage of his daughter to the prince of Tunisia, accompanied by his son Ferdinand and Antonio. Prospera, apprehending her chance for revenge, causes a tempest, wrecking the ship and stranding those on board on her island.


  • Helen Mirren as Prospera – the main character; Miranda's mother and a sorceress
  • Felicity Jones as Miranda – Prospera's daughter who falls in love with Ferdinand
  • Djimon Hounsou as Caliban – Prospera's slave who, along with Stefano and Trinculo, plots against her
  • Russell Brand as Trinculo – Alonso's jester who, along with Stefano, joins forces with Caliban to plot against Prospera
  • Alfred Molina as Stephano – Alonso's butler who, along with Trinculo, joins forces with Caliban to plot against Prospera
  • Chris Cooper as Antonio – Prospera's brother and Miranda's uncle
  • Reeve Carney as Ferdinand – Alonso's son, who falls in love with Miranda
  • Alan Cumming as Sebastian – Alonso's brother
  • Tom Conti as Gonzalo – a counsellor to Alonso, who gave aid to Prospera and Miranda
  • David Strathairn as Alonso, King of Naples – Ferdinand's father and Trinculo and Stefano's employer
  • Ben Whishaw as Ariel – a spirit who aids Prospera
  • Jude Akuwudike as Boatswain


The film, based on the play of the same name by William Shakespeare, is written and directed by Julie Taymor. The play's main character was Prospero, and Taymor changed the character's gender to cast Helen Mirren as Prospera. Taymor explained the casting decision, "I didn't really have a male actor that excited me in mind, and yet there had been a couple of phenomenal females—Helen Mirren being one of them—who [made me think]: 'My God, does this play change? What happens if you make that role into a female role?'" Taymor held a reading and found that the story could accommodate the change of gender without being gimmicky.

In Shakespeare's play, Prospero was the Duke of Milan. In the adaptation, Prospera is the wife of the Duke. She is "more overtly wronged" than Prospero; when the duke is killed, Prospera's brother Antonio (played by Chris Cooper) accuses her of killing him with witchcraft. Antonio makes the accusation to be rid of Prospera and claim her royal title. Taymor said, "She had her whole life taken away from her because she was a woman." Prospera wants to prevent the same thing from happening to her daughter.

Principal photography took place around volcanic areas of Hawaii and Lanai.


The Tempest premiered at the Venice Film Festival on September 11, 2010, as the festival's closing film. When Disney sold Miramax Films to Filmyard Holdings, LLC, Disney took over distribution through its division Touchstone Pictures. The film was released on December 10, 2010.


The film has received mixed reviews from critics; Rotten Tomatoes maintains that 29 percent of 82 reviewers gave a positive review with an average score of 4.6/10. Entertainment Weekly said the film – "theatrically ambitious, musically busy, and in the end cinematically inert – clearly reflects the authorship of myth-loving director Julie Taymor." USA Today found that "Mirren keeps the film on track. But incomprehensible shouting and pointless shenanigans obscure subtle moments." In a similar vein, Newsweek said "the film's special effects, to a surprising extent, add little to the story," and that "next to the concise power of [Shakespeare's] language, the screen wizardry of even a resourceful director like Taymor seems like rough magic indeed". However, The New Yorker's David Denby pointed out the film's strengths, most particularly Helen Mirren's performance as Prospera: "Mirren has the range and power to play a woman with unprecedented control of the elements, and over men, too." Sandra Hall in The Sydney Morning Herald is more generous toward Taymor's vision, saying, "In the scene that explains the circumstances of mother and daughter's banishment from the dukedom of Milan, Taymor has skillfully tweaked Shakespeare's lines to take account of her new scenario," and praising the film's visual elements.


Award Date of ceremony Category Nominee Result
Academy Awards February 27, 2011 Best Costume Design Sandy Powell Lost to Colleen Atwood (Alice in Wonderland)
Satellite Awards December 19, 2010 Best Actress Helen Mirren Lost to Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)


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