A lot of people who have reviewed William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (especially critics) did not really *get* it. People went on about them speaking with American accents and action scenes and a whole load of tripe really. So rather than try to combat that, I’m just going to tell you a few of the reasons why I love this film. ;) With my own screenshots. ;) Be sure to let me know what you think.
Leonardo’s hair. Boy, that were no cheap haircut. Seriously, a hairdresser knew what they were doing there. The color is one of the best pieces of work I’ve seen, ever. See how the light catches the streaks? Lovely!
Mercutio. Harold Perrineau to be precise. It is extremely brave to take on this role in this movie because Mercutio was to be a drag queen – wearing silver high heels and even dance in them. When you see the dancing scene, Mercutio’s high kick is one of the best I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a few. But he is not just a great drag queen, his acting is excellent. His death scene is heart-breakingly heartbreaking.
Also John Leguizamo plays a wonderful Tybalt and as you see, many of the costumes in the movie involve one of my favourite things – sparkly stuff.
And the fishtank sequence is breath-taking – extremely lovely. The fishtank scenes add to the color and beauty of this film overall, and really cool to have fish swimming between the actor and the camera. Pretty!
The pool grotto – very beautiful!
The overall colorfulness of this movie is one of the things that makes it a success in my opinion. The beauty of the cast, the locations, the language, it’s all great. When the beach scenes of Mercutio’s death were shot, there was actually a huge storm blowing in – what is happening to those trees is completely natural. The actors made it through even though they were being completely sand blasted.
If you go and read reviews for this movie on the intarweb, you’ll hear all these comparisions to some previous version of Romeo and Juliet done by Zafarelli or some such name back in the 60’s. This is ridiculous. Why compare two versions of something to each other? Clearly Baz Lurhman was not trying to *replicate* the previous version. Nobody would bother to do that. I have not seen the other version and I have no real desire to. I’m fairly happy with this version of it.
And to be honest, so are *millions* of school kids who have seen this movie as part of their traditional Shakespeare lessons instead of some old and dodgy version which would not grab their imaginations the way this movie does, or contain music which is interesting, or use color in such incredible ways as this movie does..
But the ending is the real triumph of this film, in my opinion. Of course I’m not going to spoil it by telling you they both die, that’s a pretty well known thing, but how the dying scenes have been changed in this instance are a great improvement, I think. Not to mention the fact that the scenes are visually beautiful (love the blue neon crosses) and Leo’s emotion is heartbreakingly lovely, if that’s possible. If you watch it you’ll get what I mean..
I have seen this film a *zillion* times, I used to have it playing in front of me at work all day long, and yet every time I see it I somehow hope the ending will magically change and Romeo will take his Juliet off to Mantua and they will live happily ever after.
For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo. But I think this version of it tells the story in a way that will inspire kids who really have no interest in Shakespeare to get an interest. This, along with Shakespeare in Love, are two of my favourite tellings of this tragic tale.
Let me know if you’ve seen this film, if you have not and have decided to because of this review, or your general thoughts on this review and my screenshots ;)
Of course, Claire Danes is now starring as Carrie in Homeland. I prefer her in this movie to be honest. Less crazy eyes, less nuttiness.
If you enjoyed this review, you might also enjoy these other reviews.
Pump Up The Volume
William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet
The Pirate Movie
Shakespeare In Love
Dead Poets Society