Prospero's Books
Prospero's Books (1991)

Puzzle-master Peter Greenaway exposes another aspect of his peculiar obsessions to the filmgoing public. Prospero's Books uses Shakespeare as a foundation and then skips along to define its own lush territory. The books of the title are… More

Directed By:
Rated: R
Running Time:
Release Date: September 28, 1991
DVD Release Date: October 22, 1992
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Critic Score: 67% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews

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

Variety Staff

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.

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Vincent Canby
New York Times

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.

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TV Guide

Does it work? That depends on whether you find Greenaway's elaborate visual conceits and rarified narrative structures daring and liberating, or boringly self-indulgent.

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Jonathan Rosenbaum
Chicago Reader

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.

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Peter Travers
Rolling Stone

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.


Lubricious biblophilia rubbing up against a warehouse of naked extras, this Shakespearean adaptation is, in many ways, the epitome of cinematic pretension.

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Geoff Andrew
Time Out

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.

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Hal Hinson
Washington Post

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

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Dennis Schwartz
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

It cries out to not only be heard but be seen for what it wishes to convey about the act of creativity.

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More reviews for Prospero's Books

Flixster Audience Score: 84% Flixster User Reviews
Greg S
An adaptation of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" with John Gielgud as Prospero, featuring decadent sets, nude spirits, sumptuous video overlays,… More
Doctor Strangeblog
Visually phenomenal de facto stage adaptation of 'The Tempest' with 82-year-old John Gielgud reciting nearly every line of dialogue! Moving sets,… More
Wahida K
It is a great Movie, what is wrong with you guys?
John Ballantine
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.