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Movies of the Month > Baz Luhrmann Redux Romeo+Juliet

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message 1: by Elaine (new)

Elaine (httpgoodreadscomelaine_chaika) | 241 comments When ths first came out, I dimissed it as a Bowdlerization of Shakespeare. However, after readinng Pam Cooke's discussion of Bazmark films, I watched it through her eyes--and my own.

Cooke says that Luhrmann did in this movie what Shakespeare did in his plays: he plundered others for source material, used hyperbole and heightened emoting. Shakespeare's originality lay in his retelling, and so does Luhrmann's. Visually, of course, Luhrmann wins the contest, if it can rightly be called that. This is visually stunning. Shakespeare didn't have cameras which focused on characters' faces. His verbiage had to take the brunt of all emotion, events, forehadowing, and attention-keeping. Since Shakespeare's audiences were rowdy,drunken, and not likely to sit quietly in assigned seats, his actors had to declaim over the hubbub to gain and maintain attention.

Luhrmann, off course, can grab your attention by focusing the camera on specific people and objects, as can any filmmaker.(Stage productions today do it with spotlights, also not available to Shakespeare.

So how does Luhrmann plunder Shakespeare? He sets th play in a non-existent city, Verona, at no specific time, except vaguely "modern," with splotches of an earlier time. uliet, for instance, doesn't wear modern clothes, and neither her having a nurse nor her friendship with her confessor seems modern.

Luhrmann's Verona Beach is a fantastical delight, with a theatre whose missing doors arch the sea at its back. The rival Montague and Capulet camps now have warring gangs. The opening is very Luhrmann: loud, bright, lots of movement and declaiming. One imagines Shakespeare's productions to have been as much so themselves.

However, once Romeo and Juliet meet, the tone changes. Danger still abound,but quieter scenes of church and home prevail as the lovers come together and plot their union. The death scene is as tragoc a Shakespeare's, with it irony underscored even more. The predominant color here is blue, the color of angels, I believe, and the music is suitably sad.

The only flaw in all this is that much of the time, instead of Shakespeare's words, Luhrmann and his scriptwriter, Guy Pearce (as I recall) have the characters talk in rhymed doublets which sound like doggerel. The most famous speeches, happily, are Shakespeare's originals (What light through yonder window breaks and the death declamations.)

Worthwhile seeing, and for cinema buffs, a must-see. It is definitely a cinematic version of Shakespeare, unlike most Shakespearian films, which tend to be filmed theater.

message 2: by Anna (new)

Anna (lilfox) | 465 comments I absolutely love Buz Luhrmann's Romeo & Juliet

message 3: by Robin (new)

Robin (goodreadscomtriviagoddessl) II haven't seen this adaptation saw Franco Zefferelli's one, I still like that one the best.

message 4: by Anna (new)

Anna (lilfox) | 465 comments Franco Zeffirelli's adaptation is more traditional.

message 5: by Baxter (new)

Baxter (julietrocksmysocks) | 589 comments This was showed in my English class two years ago and I was the only one in the class who liked it. And I'm still the only one as far as I know. You've summed up my feelings on it very nicely too. The cinematography in the movie especially stuck out to me as being completely brilliant.

message 6: by Robin (new)

Robin (goodreadscomtriviagoddessl) and the young romeo and juliet, i saw moulin rouge, so this might be over the top. We just want the love story folks.

message 7: by Aditya (new)

Aditya Mookerjee (adityamookerjee) | 12 comments What made Romeo and Juliet great, as Shakespeare's play, is that Dicaprio can make Romeo relevant in the modern context. Romeo was a modern Romeo, in the movie. He was very elemental, and there was so much discord, it appears around him, he gave up unhappiness, and became positive, and related accordingly. Dicaprio and the lady who plays Juliet, were perhaps the most impressive romantic pair, that cinematic year.

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