Prospero's Books (1991)

Prospero's Books



Critic Consensus: There is no middle ground for viewers of Peter Greenaway's work, but for his fans, Prospero's Books is reliably daring.

Movie Info

John Gielgud portrays Prospero, the mystical political exile who arranges to bring all his old enemies to his remote island. The light of Prospero's life is his daughter Miranda (Isabelle Pasco), who makes up for a lifetime without men by falling in love with shipwrecked Ferdinand (Mark Rylance). If the young lovers' voices sound particularly throaty, it's because Gielgud's voice is dubbed into all the characters. Apparently just to aggravate Shakespeare purists, Greenaway offers us a Caliban … More

Rating: R
Genre: Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Special Interest
Directed By:
Written By: William Shakespeare, Peter Greenaway
In Theaters:
On DVD: Oct 22, 1992



as Prospero

as Caliban

as Alonso

as Miranda

as Antonio

as Sebastian

as Ferdinand

as Francisco

as Ariel

as Ariel

as Ceres
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Prospero's Books

Friend Ratings

No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.


Critic Reviews for Prospero's Books

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (8)

The product of a feverish, overflowing imagination, this almost impossibly dense take on The Tempest displays both the director's audacious brilliance and lewd extravagance at full tilt.

Full Review… | July 3, 2008
Top Critic

Gone is any sense of drama or character; the cluttered spectacle yields no overriding design but simply disconnected MTV-like conceits or mini-ideas every three seconds.

Full Review… | July 3, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

To some degree, the relentless proliferation of ideas smothers the dramatic highs and lows, but this is a minor quibble compared to the sheer ambition and audacity of the overall conception.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Greenaway is not a frivolous film maker. He doesn't shoot a lot of material with the expectation of stumbling upon a found object within. His films are planned from the first frame to the last.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Greenaway bombards you with images, with no regard for the average attention span. Is he a genius or a fake? Debating that question is almost as stimulating as watching a Greenaway film.

May 12, 2001
Rolling Stone
Top Critic

Prospero's Books references the masterpieces of the past in a manner that antagonizes our pleasure in the arts rather than enhancing it.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Prospero's Books

An adaptation of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" with John Gielgud as Prospero, featuring decadent sets, nude spirits, sumptuous video overlays, optical tricks, and animated books. Paintings from the Old Masters come to life and morph into each other as Gielgud reads almost every line of the play; even if you hate it, it's impossible not to be impressed by the massive scale and detail of this encyclopedic movie. Sadly, there is no decent way to legitimately see this in Region 1; the exsiting DVD release is a criminally muddled, pan-and-scan transfer of the VHS release. This is the kind of movie the Blu-ray format was invented for.

Greg S

Super Reviewer

It is a great Movie, what is wrong with you guys?

Wahida K

Super Reviewer

Sorry I hate Greenaway. He is only director who puts me in a coma through repetition of sounds and images. I have never understood it and I doubt I ever will.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

Prospero's Books Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss Prospero's Books on our Movie forum!