The Epilogue in Julie Taymor's Tempest

Music is central to Shakespeare's romances. In Pericles, Gower calls the story a "song," and Marina "sings like one immortal." Cymbeline has the beautiful songs "Hark, hark! the lark " and " Fear no more the heat o'th' sun," and The Winter's Tale has Autolycus's songs and a pastoral dance. 

The Tempest was turned into an opera less than a hundred years after it was first performed; composers who have written for it include Purcell, Berlioz, Tchaikovsky, and Vaughan Williams.
Beth Gibbons of Portishead

Eliot Goldenthal's music is one of the highlights of Julie Taymor's 2010 film of the play, which ends with the epilogue being sung rather than spoken. During a question-and-answer period at the New York Film Festival, Taymor explained that she thought a spoken epilogue wouldn't work in film as it does in the theater, where the actor sheds his character as he bids the audience farewell.

Bryce Dallas Howard does just this in Kenneth Branagh's As You Like It (2006), and it's an effective strategy. But Taymor didn't want to break the illusion of the world of her film and so didn't film Helen Mirren speaking the epilogue. Instead she had Goldenthal write music to be sung by Beth Gibbons of the trip-hop band Portishead. The music plays as we watch Prospero's sinking books and the credits roll.

Here it is, though not—alas—Taymor's imagery. Below the video, I've printed the epilogue with the words missing from Goldenthal and Taymor's version in italics.

Now my charms are all o'erthrown,
And what strength I have's mine own,
Which is most faint. Now 'tis true
I must be here confined by you
Or sent to Naples. Let me not,
Since I have my dukedom got
And pardoned the deceiver, dwell
In this bare island by your spell;
But release me from my bands
With the help of your good hands.
Gentle breath of yours my sails
Must fill, or else my project fails,
Which was to please. Now I want
Spirits to enforce, art to enchant;
And my ending is despair
Unless I be relieved by prayer,
Which pierces so that it assaults
Mercy itself and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardoned be,
Let your indulgence set me free.


Lauren N'guetta said…
I really enjoyed this. I think that Taymor made the right decision of having the epilogue be done in a song form. It was very powerful and captured my attention.
Jess said…
I agree with Lauren...the song kept me interested in the epilogue and grabbed my attention right away. Very wise decision by Taymor!
Anonymous said…
I think the epilogue being done in song was very unique and different to what I have normally been seeing in Shakepeare's plays/movies. I thought it was very cativating and beautiful!
Mary Larson said…
I thought it was really interesting that the epilogue was sung instead of being spoken in the film. I think this was a much better idea because it brought about a different feel to the film. I think that it would have gotten a little boring to listen to her speak her epilogue, but with the addition of music it made it more interesting. I think it was a good decision by Taymor to incorporate the epilogue in this way.
Walter said…
I can agree with what Katie said, It distinguishes itself from other epilogues which keeps the viewers interested rather then dragging out a spoken epilogue.
Unknown said…
I think that putting this after the movie ended was a smart decision because it definitely gives a different vibe compared to the film. The song is somewhat dark and scary which I liked and because of that it really grabs your attention and makes you listen to each line individually. Overall, a well done film down to the ending credits.
Jon Schifferle said…
I feel that more emotion can be shown through song,so this was definitely a good choice. It may not always fit, but it is a nice change every now and then
Ryan Bass said…
I think the song form of the epilogue definitely adds a lot more feeling and interest to the text so that the reader can enjoy it more. I really liked the mix up and the music in the background.
Mason Pugh said…
I feel that this song communicates more emotion and meaning than any other form of an epilogue could, Its a cool change and I enjoyed it more than just reading or watching the epilogue, well played Taymor!
Jamie Mensching said…
I found that because the epilogue was in a sung I was more interested and had to pay better attention to link what was sung to the play. Not only did I find it intriguing, but the song also went well with the play!
Whitman Burke said…
I think that Taymor made the right choice by having the epilogue be a song. I think that it makes the ending much better and it brings much more feeling and emotion to the piece.
Francesco Grillo said…
I definitely think the right decision was made in regards to the song selection of the epilogue. The unique sound attracts much more attention and will most likely keep the audience involved from the start. It could have been boring if they decided to stick to talking instead
Anonymous said…
I really enjoyed this epilogue and was glad that it was sung in the film. Her beautiful voice was able to grab my attention and kept it, which spoken epilogues tend to not be able to do.
MIckenzie Layson said…
It's interesting how important music was to the film. I thought it was cool, and the music was actually pretty good. What Taymor did was so cool and interesting. The Epilogue being sung just tied everything together.
Sonia said…
I agree with Lauren and Jess that Taylor's decision was crucial in making the epilogue strong and dramatic