Shakespeare transcends time and media, mostly because creatives can’t stop remixing his legendary language across time and media. Julie Taymor’s up next with The Tempest, starring the always captivating Helen Mirren. But she Taymor reboot the Bard better than she brought life to Spider-Man on Broadway, or geeked The Beatles in the lightweight Across the Universe? More important, can Prospera displace the Freudian Forbidden Planet‘s Robby the Robot? I compiled a list of strange and sometimes surreal sci-fi Shakespearean cinema for Wired to find out.
Director Julie Taymor’s CGI-fueled version of Shakespeare’s supernatural epic The Tempest arrives Friday, the latest in a long line of strange, surreal and sometimes scandalous Bard reboots.
Taymor’s twist on Shakespeare’s metafictional masterpiece is to re-gender its outcast sorcerer, Prospero, as Prospera, wrapping the vengeance-seeking character in Helen Mirren’s skin and surrounding her with talents like Chris Cooper, Djimon Hounsou, Alfred Molina and Russell Brand, as well as arty cinematography and effects.
The result is accessible Shakespearean pop that would make a suitable double feature with Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Taymor’s similarly ambitious Broadway reboot of Spidey’s origin.
In The Tempest, Taymor’s job is made easier by Shakespeare’s infinitely malleable mythology, which has been repeatedly sliced, diced, remixed and revised in alternately cool and crazy ways. It’s a timeless practice encouraged by DJ William Shakespeare himself, who rarely met a story or source that he didn’t find sample-worthy. To celebrate that pop-cultural mashing, here are 10 more sci-fi, fantasy and other surreally cool revisions of Shakespeare’s plays and person.