Archive for Elizabeth Welch

Stormy Weather

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 29, 2010 by telescoper

Tough day, for various reasons. Perhaps more about that tomorrow. However, I thought I’d end it with  a flashbackto my youth. I went to see Derek Jarman‘s brilliant screen adaptation of The Tempest by William Shakespeare when it came out around 30 years ago, roughly the same time that I did. Critics were divided, especially about the ending, although I loved it all, especially the ending. The cast of the film included Christopher Biggins and Toyah Wilcox, so it was never going to be a straightforward Shakespeare adaptation but even if you don’t like it you have to admit that it’s beautifully photographed. Jarman decided to change the usual ending of the play, which is Prospero’s Epilogue:

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 pardon’d 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 youth from crimes would pardon’d be,
Let your indulgence set me free .

Instead the sublime Elizabeth Welch (who was 75 at the time, and died in 2003 at the age of 99) sings the wonderful song Stormy Weather, to a bevy of handsome sailors. A bit camp? Yes. But I think it’s sheer genius. In fact, I think  it’s one of the most fabulous-est endings to a film ever.

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