I hadn't seen this version of Romeo and Juliet before, having been far too young at the tender age of about four years old to watch it when it first came out. I'd heard a lot about it - most of it not good - so when I watched it I was surprised at how excellent it really was.
So, this is a semi-modernisation of the classic Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet (only this is Romeo + Juliet because it's very street in fair Verona,) with the original Shakespearean dialogue in a modern setting (well, modern for 1996.) A very young Leonardo DiCaprio with a 90s boy-band haircut as Romeo is combined with an innocent teenage Claire Danes (before Homeland, or even Stardust,) as Juliet.
Now, let's get one thing straight - this film is bat**** crazy, and there's no getting around that. It's a riot of colour, passion and violence, with a drag-queen Mercutio and Hawaiian shirt wearing gangs (the Montagues and Capulets) in the part of the American west that is hugely influenced by Mexican and Latino culture. It's surreal, it's over-emphasised, it's somehow beautiful. Some people will fundamentally hate it - it's a bit of a marmite job: you're going to know within the first quarter of an hour if you want to watch the rest or not.
Somehow, Baz Luhrmann's decadent surrealism makes this story more realistic. I can believe in this world of hyper-emphasis that two young people could fall in love so completely so suddenly that they want to marry the next day. The acting is exquisite in its intensity: and intensity is here in bucket-loads. The whole thing is one giant metaphor for the burning sharpness of love and violence, and the original dialogue is somehow not out of place here.
You have to buy into it, that's a given. I love it, but it's mental. Just suspend your disbelief and allow yourself to watch it - it's brashly exquisite, and deeply heartfelt - despite the bizarre shrink-wrap it comes in.
'Romeo and Juliet', directed by Baz Luhrmann, is not only arguably the greatest piece of work by this director but also one of best Shakespeare films produced. As a young English student, I remember watching other attempts of Romeo and Juliet, actors in a combination of ballet tights and neck ruffles, and praying for the main character to finally die. Yet this version immediately broke from that staid tradition, dividing English departments down traditionalist and progressive lines throughout the country and finally making this classic seem relevant and meaningful. To have Shakespeare in a modern setting, to show how such a old plot can be reforged in the modern world and to have the young lovers of Romeo and Juliet actually looking as if they are in the blush of their youth, makes one engage with the film; to listen carefully to the words and not simply dismiss it as Shakespeare and thus undecipherable without a PHD in English. Once you have watched this film, the powerful themes Shakespeare explores along with the subtlety of his language (and sometimes the coarseness of it as well) will spark an interest in both Shakespeare and literature in general. Not only an amazing film in its own right, the after effects of watching it carry such benefits that they cannot be quantified as anything other than immense.
This Romeo and Juliet film version has got to be one of the best as it proves that a Shakespeare play can be updated no matter what century, year, decade! But even though this is a modern version and a bit better to understand you should still read the book, then you can then know the characters and plot - so for those doing exams don't just think 'Oh I'll just watch this, homework done." cause the teachers will warn you not too take too much note on film adaptitions cause director changes things in movies especially story lines as parts of it can be cut!
Two lovers, Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet both secretly love each other, but it would bring shame on both families if they were seeing each other. But Juliet's nurse does promise to keep this a secret, the other person who knows the secret is Friar Lawrence he also promises to keep this a secret too. And Romeo and Juliet marry! But the parents must not find out as Juliet is suppose to marry another man (set up by her parents) Paris! Juliet is stuck in a dilema as she is not allowed even admit the truth. Otherwise this could get worse for both Capulet and Montague! what will really happen? Will the love last? or will in end in happiness? or even sadness? Find out in this day to day Shakespeare story!
Romeo : Leonardo DiCaprio
Juliet : Claire Danes
Friar Lawrence : Pete Posthlewaite
Tybalt : John Legiuizamo
Mercuttio : Harrold Peerineau
Paris : Paul Rudd
Lord Capulet : Paul Sarvino
Lord Montague: Brian Dennehy
The nurse : Miriam Margoyle
director : Baz Lurhmann
certficate : 12
runtime : 120
Personally, this is one of my favorite films as well as favorite love story. Even though some people hate this film as it is modern and ruined, but I totally disagree - and don't listen to people who say it's rubbish (min you everyone is entitled to their own opinion) but it's great and a huge must see! Baz Lurhamm is a really, really good director.
I'm not really a sucker for love stories that are set yonks ago but I decided to rent this one since I heard the film-makers decided to bring the story forward into the modern world.
Of course, I was made to read the play of Romeo and Juliet in school so this bought back some memories.
Leonardo Dicaprio and Claire Danes play Romeo and Juliet, this time set in today's world full of guns, knives, cars and everything else realistic about this world.
If you have ever followed the play then this film pans out the same way except that when the characters have conflicts, they don't sort things out with a sword but with their guns and other modern weapons instead.
The language that the characters speak here is still the same that is in the famous William Shakespeare play so don't go expecting any modern English language and if you have never read the play, you may have trouble understanding conversations!
In case anyone has been living in another world and has never heard of the Romeo and Juliet story, it is about two people who fall in love but both of their families have a disdain for one another, yet Romeo and Juliet never let this get in the way and are determined to be together.
Conflicts eventually arise in due course of their romance between the feuding families which ultimately affect the fate of both characters.
I did enjoy this one, in fact, I eventually came to own it!
Baz Luhrmann does a very good job of bringing the famous Shakespeare story into the modern world and, to me, it was just as effective.
I also think it was a good way for modern audiences to appreciate a very old story since that, if this were still set in it's respective era, I really doubt audiences would have cared.
So, kudos has to go to Baz for that one!
Performances are good, especially from Dicaprio but, sometimes, Danes performance can come across a little wooden but that is only rarely and she does not affect the enjoyment of the film at all.
Harold Perrineau also stands out as Mercutio and captures that comical element that the original Mercutio had.
As with the original version of the character, his attitude toward sex and romance is much more superficial to Romeo's, who comes across as a love sick puppy.
I won't spoil the ending but there are no surprises there, that is all I will say.
If I am honest, yes, it did pull at my heart strings a little (which I never expected) and it was very effective in which it was executed!
I do recommend this one but I do have some slight hesitancy as well just because it is what it is.
This really does play out as a modern day action film with a love story thrown in so if you like that sort of thing then you should like this.
If you are ignorant toward stories set in yester year then you shouldn't have any fear about watching this one!
Romeo and Juliet has been transformed into a fantastic modern day story by the genius director - Baz Lurhmann. The director has kept the script the same as the traditional story but has managed to transform the story into a modern era by setting the scenes in the film in modern locations such as a petrol station in the opening scene and using television screens to narrate the opening and closing of the story.
The film also boasts a fantastic soundtrack with artists such as: supergrass, quindon tarver, garbage, wannadies, the cardigans and radiohead.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes both give a fantastic perfomance as a pair of star crossed lovers. However, Juliet can seem a little annoying at times during the film. There are many other famous actors in the film such as christina pickles and paul rudd.
The symbolism used in the film is fantastic with consistent undertones of religion, a change in racism, alcohol, sex and drugs.
This is a fantastic film and definitely worth watching!
Most people are forced to endure Shalespeare when they study English Literature and one of the texts I had to study ws Romeo and Juliet and to be honest I quite enjoyed it, probably the most famous tragic love story and while there is humour in the first half of the play mostly due to Mercutio and the Nurse, his sad demise putting an end to the puns and a first taste of the death and doom to come.
This film adaption starring Leonardo Di Caprio and Claire Danes star in the lead roles in this two hour version and it is an excellent film.
The script has been updated to remove some of the harder to understand prose and to make it more relevant to a modern audience thus the screen play is made more accessible to the modern viewer, this may not suit the ourists but making it more accessible in my opinion ultimately widens the potential audience something this film succeeds in doing.
Di Caprio is excellent in the lead role and this was his break through film, Danes is also a supremely likeable Juliet and her performance shows great poise. The pair have great on screen chemistry together and display real passion in their scenes together.
A super film with some great performances and stunning sets it is well worth watching.
Romeo and Juliet is the 1996 film adaptation from William Shakespeare's play of the same name and it comes from Australian director, Baz Luhrmann, who also produced and co wrote the screenplay for this film. It is rated 12 due to violence and language and the film is 120 minutes long. Surprisingly, Romeo and Juliet only had a budget of around $14 million but it has made more than 10x that worldwide.
In Verona Beach, two big families of the business world are arch enemies and their younger members are always fighting and disrupting the peace. Nursing a broken heart, Romeo Montague and his friends take off to a party at the Capulet's house, even though they aren't supposed to be there. There, Romeo meets Juliet, the only daughter of the Capulets, and instantly falls for her...what he doesn't know though is what family she is from. When he finds out, he is torn as to what to do, but deep down knows where his heart belongs. Juliet too is also torn, knowing how much this secret love will ruin and upset her family but she cannot help but to love Romeo.
Romeo and Juliet know that they must be together, no matter what the cost, so they get married in secret with the help of Juliet's Nurse and Father Laurence, a friend of Romeo. Shortly after their wedding, a massive fight breaks out and Mercutio, Romeo's best friend, is killed by Tybalt, a Capulet. An even bigger war breaks out between the families and puts even more pressure on the young lovers, ending in tragedy all round.
Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague
Claire Danes as Juliet Capulet
John Leguizamo as Tybalt Capulet
Harold Perrineau as Mercutio
Pete Postlethwaite as Father Laurence
Brian Dennehy and Christina Pickles as Ted and Caroline Montague
Paul Sorvino and Diane Venora as Fulgencio and Gloria Capulet
Paul Rudd as Dave Paris
Vondie Curtis-Hall as Chief Prince
Miriam Margolyes as The Nurse
Jesse Bradford as Balthasar
Dash Mihok as Benvolio
Zak Orth as Gregory
Jamie Kennedy as Sampson
M. Emmet Walsh as Apothecary
Vincent Laresca as Abra
Special Features include:
- Cast & crew interviews
- Music videos
- Theatrical trailer, tv spots and more
- DVD Rom - Screenplay comparison excerpts
I remember having to watch this when I was in year 9 for my English GCSE's but I hadn't really known anything about it before hand. To begin with, I thought that it was going to be a chore watching this but it turned out to be one of my all time favourite films. I know it is the typical girly film but it is one that you cannot help but like.
Shakespeare is outdated in the sense that even though we are supposed to read it in schools, his plays weren't meant to be that way. His plays were meant to be watched on the stage so a movie is as close as I'm going to get for now. As well, the language used is sometimes extremely hard to understand and in this, the Baz Luhrmann version, he updates the story and the way the language is used in order to make it relevant for todays audience.
Although this classic story of love and loss still holds its base, the new twist makes it much more exciting. Each battle and brawl made me hold my breath the first time round and left me wondering about what was going to happen next. Remember that I was about 14 at the time so I didn't have as much of a good grasp on the story as I do now.
Leonardo DiCaprio leapt to fame through this film and it really put him on the map. I loved him as the modern day Romeo and he was believable in the role...and gorgeous at the time too. In each scene, you could feel the emotion rushing through him and also the pain and torment each time. I cant imagine anyone playing this role as well as he did.
Clare Danes was also a great choice as Juliet and I'm very glad that she and DiCaprio had a lot of chemistry as the film would have been a big flop otherwise. I didn't think she was as good as DiCaprio but only because I couldn't feel the emotion from her as much.
Everything about this film fits perfectly, from costumes to the high energy music in some scenes. Say that though, some of the slower songs were more memorable. The scene with the choir in the church gets me every single time and I loved the song that much that I have it on my I-pod. The same with Des'ree's 'Kissing you'. That song will be remembered for all time as the song used in the scene where Romeo and Juliet meet.
Baz Luhrmann is totally amazing and one of my favourite directors. This film made him stand out to me and I cant think of one of his films that I didn't love. All of his films have a different feel to them but with the same kind of quirkiness as you can see between this film and Moulin Rouge. I love the new ideas he has for making classic stories relevant but he still manages to keep the basic love story at the same time.
As I said before, this is one of my all time favourite films and there isn't even one thing that I can fault about it. I don't think that this film appeals to men very much apart from some of the fight scenes but still is a fantastic, breath taking film.
Baz Luhrman's 1996 modern update of Shakespeare's classic Romeo and Juliet met with instant success. It combined trademark intense visuals from Luhrman with an impressive musical score, and some great up and coming actors.
I've never really been a fan of Leonardo DiCaprio, and although I found his portrayal of lovelorn Romeo a bit annoying at times, the basics of it were impressive. A Montague set in modern day Verona, he has as his family'e enemies the Capulets. Juliet, with whom he falls in love, is the daughter of the Capulets, and when she finds the love at first sight reciprocal, it sets off a whole series of mistimed and unlucky events.
Claire Danes is really good as the wide eyed and innocent Juliet, who likes what she sees and dreams of the impossible. She and Leo together are a good lead pair of actors, and are brilliantly supported by stars such as John Leguizamo and Harold Perrineau. The whole cast do a good job, with familiar names such as Pete Postlethwaite, Paul Sorvino, Miriam Margolyes, Paul Rudd and M Emmet Walsh all playing their parts really well.
Yet it is really the music that wins over. The tale of two lovers who are destined to never be together because of the feuding between their families needs some powerful yet sensual music, as well as the harsh and hard and fast music to mark some of the fight scenes. And it gets it, with stars such as Des'ree providing haunting music throughout. The music all the way through manages to add to the ambience tremendously, and it's one of the few soundtracks I would consider getting.
Luhrman brings the Shakespearean tale up to date quite cleverlyt, introducing cars and guns and beaches and modern attire quite well. The speech is occasionally Shakespearean, but a nice blend of modern talk with it helps the film along even more. It's a fantastic effort from all concerned. A really emotional and powerfully displayed and produced film, which shows Luhrman once again to be a master at the power of the visual. Some of the quirkier Luhrmanesque scenes such as Mercutio giving a bit of a display at a party are typical of his preferred style of cinematography (I shall never look at Harold Perrineau in the same way again!). The style was repeated in Moulin Rouge with the visually stunning Burlesque routines, but here in R&J there are elements of it that are not to be taken lightly.
Also a marvel is one particular scene where R & J are looking at each other through a fish tank, intrigued not only by the fish but by the person on the other side of the huge tank. It is accompanied by Des'ree's Kissing You, which was the love theme from the film. Equally as stunning in the soundtrack is Lovefool by the Cardigans and an interesting rendition of Kym Mazelle's Young Hearts Run Free.
I highly recommend this film. It is stunning in the way it captivates, and the performances are excellent as well. It is currently available from amazon.co.uk for £4.88, which is a very good price for a very good film.
There are not many films that I can watch more than once - but Baz Luhtmann's adaptation of Shakespeare's 'Romeo & Juliet' is one of them. I am not, generally, a Luhrmann fan. He is a director whose work is studied at GCSE level at my school (Moulin Rouge and Romeo & Juliet) and I sometimes feel a bit of an outcast when I express the opinion that I find some of his work irritating!
Luhrmann's adaptation of 'Romeo & Juliet' was brought bang up to date in the early 90s with the film set in Verona Beach in the USA rather than Verona in Italy. The contemporary relevance of the play's rivalry is clear with Luhrmann exploiting the gang culture of modern America. The Montague family and the Capulet family are clashing violently with the young men of the families toting guns and indulging in vicious gun battles. We see one of these at the start of the film in a gas station; it is stylised and fast-moving with echoes of the history of America's violence ('cowboy' type moments). This violent episode sets in motion the narrative of the play/film but is a fantastic 'hook' that keeps you gripped and urges you to continue watching.
The story of 'Romeo & Juliet' is well known and Luhrmann follows this narrative closely but continues to give it a (then) very modern feel by the use of contemporary music and references (such as the performance of a charater as a drag queen). The soundtrack of the film is great - I know because I bought it and listened to it at the time; there are fab tracks such as Candi Staton's 'Young Hearts Run Free' and Des're's haunting 'I'm kissing you' (which was used to good effect in a love scene).
This film uses an edited version of Shakespeare's vers drama so it stays close to the meaning and feel of the play. I think the meaning of the film is further enhanced by the contemporary visuals that Luhrmann has chosen. The chapel where Romeo and then Juliet die in is a spectacular candle-filled death scene which reminded me of Madonna's 'Like a Prayer' music video.
I felt that the film was very well cast indeed. Leonardo Dicaprio starred in his first major role. He still has the bloom of youth upon him and shows the aggression of hormone-fuelled teenage angst. Clare Danes too is, in actuality, a very young actress who is perfect as the awakening Juliet. Their chemistry is just as I have imagined it in the play. I think Luhrmann captured the essence of these two characters very well in these two young and talented actors.
I 'enjoyed' the use of guns instead of swords. I believe the guns in the film are called 'rapier' which I thought was a stylish and meaningful twist and also enabled the dialogue to remain true.
I enjoy this film very much indeed and always find new aspects to appreciate the more I watch it. Also, my school students that see this film as part of their curriculum generally find it engaging and understandable. There are characters that are not so far away in age from where they themselves are now and the film refers to genres of films they know (action/western/music video) so it is relevant and exciting to them. When I see then watching, I know that this is a great film.
I felt a bit cheated at School that I learnt Macbeth and not Romeo and Juliet, it always seemed quite difficult to get into Shakespeares writing without proper education in that area, I will always be grateful to Baz Luhrmann for making such an accessible conscious film which made me totally understand the prose and story of Romeo and Juliet.
For anyone who hasn't seen the film, Baz Luhrmann is the director of Strictly Ballroom and Moulin Rouge, camp colourful films with vibrancy and a real artistic touch, he decided to make Shakespeare more relevant to todays youth and created the story, transferring the fair city of Verona to Venice Beach California and making the story centred around television coverage of the turf war between the Montagu's and the Capulets, the prose is maintained whilst the dress, music and demeanours are present day, this works wonderfully allowing the prose to be used to its fullest while providing a contemporary love story of enormous power and romance.
Romeo (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Juliet (Clare Danes) are two teenagers from the most powerful families in Verona, their families hate each other and yet through circumstance (in this case at an extravagant party) they fall in love and agree to marry in secret, the story unfolds as Juliets cousin kills Romeo's best friend in cold blood and more death and heartache unfolds, I won't spoil the story, but it is epic and absolutely amazing.
Luhrmann handles the story sensitively, he allows the wordplay to be centre stage and yet the performances of the two leads also shine through as utterly adorable and realistic. Danes is sweet and yet knowing whilst DiCaprio is torn between family loyalty and true love, he plays his role brilliantly.
The film is colourful and action packed with a stunning soundtrack featuring Radiohead, the Cardigans and Bono, the songs fit the story perfectly and play an integral part in setting the scene, as witnessed by a stunning version of 'When Doves Cry' when Romeo and Juliet marry, the cast is superb with Pete Postlethwaite excellent as the priest, Jessica Lange superb as Juliets mother and Paul Rudd amusing and immoral as the betrothed Paris.
John Leguizamo is superb as the dastardly Tybalt while Harold Perrineau plays Mercutio as a flamboyant showman and plays the part to perfection.
This is one of my favourite films, it utterly captures the heart and soul of this tale and brings it to a contemporary audience, I bought the DVD for £15.99 when it was first released in 1997, however its now available for £3.99 on Amazon.com.
Leonardo DiCaprio ... Romeo
Claire Danes ... Juliet
John Leguizamo ... Tybalt
Harold Perrineau ... Mercutio
Pete Postlethwaite ... Father Laurence
Paul Sorvino ... Fulgencio Capulet
Brian Dennehy ... Ted Montague
Paul Rudd ... Dave Paris
Vondie Curtis-Hall ... Captain Prince
Miriam Margolyes ... The Nurse
Jesse Bradford ... Balthasar
M. Emmet Walsh ... Apothecary
Zak Orth ... Gregory
Jamie Kennedy ... Sampson
Dash Mihok ... Benvolio
This version of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is a clever modern retelling of the story by director Baz Luhrmann.
It sticks to original story and script of Shakespeare's play, however it is set in the 1990's at America's Verona Beach instead of Verona, Italy.
The story of Romeo and Juliet, the star crossed lovers, is one of two rival families, at war with one another. However, two of the younger members of the families, Romeo and Juliet fall in love, though their families make it impossible for them to be together. Through various obstacles they continue to remain a couple until the film reaches its tragic end.
I really liked the fact that this adaptation sticks to the original script of Shakespeare's play, but the modern setting really brings it to life and makes the Shakespearian language understandable and accessible. The actors perform the lines excellently which makes it a lot easier to understand. Luhrmann has been clever to ensure that the film remains true to the script, for example, in the play the men refer to "swords" when they fight. Of course, to be believable now, they use guns instead of swords, but so that they can still use the word sword, we see early on that the brand of gun they all use is called a sword.
The film stars Claire Danes as Juliet and Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo, and despite not previously being big fans of the actors, I think they play the parts well and bring the language to life.
I really enjoyed this film and would recommend it to anybody to watch. Even if you are not a fan of Shakespeare or literature, the film is still enjoyable and easy to watch.
I thought I would try my hand at some more movie reviews, they haven't been my strong point in the past so any feedback is appreciated!
After watching this classic film for the umpteenth time last night, I decided it would be good to review as I feel this is a movie everyone should watch at least once!
Directed by Baz Luhrman (think director of Moulin Rouge and Australia), the film is an adaptation of the well known Shakepeare play, 'Romeo and Juliet'. I expect everyone knows the story, but I will give a brief plot outline anyway.
The film/play is based around two fueding families in Verona, the Capulets and the Montagues. Juliet is a Capulet and Romeo a Montague, so when they fall in love it is forbidden and therefore kept secret. The couple wed, however the escalating fued between the two families threatens to tear them apart, yet the tragic ending actually ends up bringing the fued to an end. The couple are dubbed 'star crossed lovers' by Shakespeare.
Whilst the original play is set in Elizabeathen times, Luhrman propels the story into modern day times, setting it in Verona Beach. Throughout the film the original script is used, providing a stark contrast between the period in which the play was written and the modern day. For example whilst they refer to swords in the dialogue, guns are used in the film. Yet the dialogue never once seems out of place in the film, instead it fits perfectly which is a testament to Shapespeare's durability!
The movie stars Claire Danes as Juliet and Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo. Both play the parts well, although I think that Danes outshines DiCaprio in this movie. Supporting actors are listed comprehensively on the films internet movie database page found at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117509/
The running time for this film is one hour fifty five minutes and it is rated a 12 certification in the United Kingdom. I think this is a wise rating, because the ending of the film is deals with quite adult themes in my opinion.
The film can currently be found for:
£4 on Amazon
£4 on Hmv with free delivery
£4.99 on play.com with free delivery
If you want to get a feel for the film I would suggest viewing the trailer here:
As far as dvd extras go there are a few. There is a commentary by Baz Luhrman and a few others, a behind the scenes featurette, a design gallery of stills narrated by Catherine Martin and the music videos for two soundtrack songs, 'Kissing You' by Des'ree and 'Young Hearts Run Free' by Kym Mazelle.
Overall I would give the film 5/5 because I really cannot fault it. The acting overall is above par, the soundtrack, including the song 'Kissing you@ by Des'ree and the setting are perfect and I really love the contrast between the original script and the modern setting, yet they work so well together and I think it is great that they didn't veer away from Shakespeares work. It is a real testament to Baz Luhrman that he produced such an amazing film and I am sure that you will agree!!
*This is also posted on other websites*
Luhrmann created an accessible, impressive remake of a classic tale. Visually, it is an extremely well-made and thoughtful feast. By remaining almost faithful to the original script, Luhrmann has given people the chance to experience an integral part of the 'Shakespeare experience'.
As a bit of a Shakespeare fan (a must for any English teacher), I can proudly say that this film is brilliant. It engages both adults and children alike, and cleverly combines the old and the new.
To begin, the original Prologue is delivered through a TV screen by a news reader, an excellent substutute for the original Shakespearean chorus. Anyone who listens carefully will realise that the key elements of this infamous tale are revealed during the opening. Spoiler alert for anyone who has successfully lived through life without knowing that the lovers die at the end...
Assuming that the vast majority of people know the story, I will simply comment on the most impressive of Luhrmann's ideas.
Being faithful to the original Elizabethan setting of the tale was never going to be easy, and Luhrmann has thrown the rule book out of the window here. The inventive and ingenious references to the original context are a rare sight of genuine respect to Shakespeare himself. Replacing dated 'Swords','Longswords' and 'Rapiers' with guns of the same name and placing the modern story in Verona beach pays homage to the many interpretations that have been and will be.
A nice touch was to also alter Mercutio's complex Queen Mab speech to refer to an ecstasy pill/acid tab that he gives to Romeo prior to the colourful insanity of the Capulet party.
Personally, I am not a fan of Mr DiCaprio, but this film was produced so well that his gentle, love-sick portrayal of Romeo fits wonderfully. Similarly, Claire Danes is not a favourite, but she gives Juliet an appropriate pale and innocent charm. I choose to ignore her dreadful violent crying.
Directed by Baz Luhrman, known prominently for his vivid musical masterpiece 'Moulin Rouge', this modernised version of Shakespeare's classic love story is bold, striking and very ambitious.
I'm sure we all know the general plot of Romeo and Juliet, but to reiterate, it involves Romeo, from the House of Montague, and Juliet, from the House of Capulet falling in love, despite the tyranny between their respective Houses. It's a moving and beautiful love story which speaks volumes about being true to oneself and focuses on the themes of love, tragedy and forgiveness.
Too often, however, Shakespeare is dismissed as 'boring'. But there's no chance of being bored here. This is a bright, heavily stylised adaption, which manages to maintain all of the Bard's original language, yet delivering it in such a way that makes it easier to understand and far more accessible to a general audience. Those familiar with 'Moulin Rouge' will recognise Luhrman's energetic directing style, filled with fun sound effects, sudden speeding up, and a fantastic soundtrack.
So, welcome to 'Romeo and Juliet: Modernised'. Instead of duels with swords, we are treated to gun fights, with each gun engraved with the name of a sword. Mercutio dresses up as a drag queen for the Capulet's party. Juliet wanders around in a baggy t-shirt. Everything has been adapted to suit a younger audience, with the exception of the language, and it works fabulously.
It's a visual treat - the setting of Verona is both beautiful and brutal, as gang fights between the houses of Capulet and Montague erupt, as are the characters, most notably Tybalt, played by John Leguizamo, whose flamboyant gun fighting required the actor to learn flamenco dancing.
The cast are good, especially Harold Perrineau as Mercutio, although I do think Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes as the 'star crossed lovers' were slightly weak, although they certainly looked the part. Another slight blip is that it could be slightly too busy. The insanely quick cuts that suited 'Moulin Rouge' to a tee is slightly distracting here, when the audience also has to focus on the language.
The special features include commentary by the Director and other crew members, and some short but sweet videos focused on different aspects of production. There's also some music videos, a trailer and a gallery. The DVD is available for a very resonable £3.99 on play.com, and there's also a DVD and Soundtrack option for the same price. (I'm not sure if the special features are included in this package though!)
Overall, this is a potent, vibrant and original re-imagining of a classic love story, definitely worth a watch if only for the visual genius and great contemporary twist.
Possibly the most interesting re-working of a shakespeare play ever, this is typical Baz Luhrmann fare, flamboyant, in your face and colourful.
Starring Leonardo Di Caprio as Romeo and Clare Danes as Juliet, this is pretty much faithful to the story, although the delivery of text is different and the families the Montagues and the Capulets have been removed to Verona, California and dress and act accordingly, with guns as swords and hawaiian shirts replacing finely cut cloth.
Some of the acting is a little wooden, most of it apart from the two leads is exceptionally over the top, but it works, as a reworking and an introduction of a classic to kids, this is fantastic.
Danes and Dicaprio make wonderful star crossed lovers, understated and cute, but ultimately doomed, Paul Rudd is fun as 'Dave Paris' Juliet's more appropriate and yet annoying suitor.
Pete Postelthwaite puts lots of melodrama into his role as Father Laurence and Miriam Margolyes is suitably over the top as the loving nurse.
John Leguizamo is excellent as the villainous Tybalt who begins the chain of events which eventually destroy both families. Harold Perrineau is excellent as the cross dressing Mercutio who brings a plague onto the houses of Montagu and Capulet during his death.
The soundtrack is exceptional mixing californian punk pop with Radiohead and perky swedish pop such as the Cardigans with Lovefool and the wannadies. All produced by Nellie Hooper.
This film is stylish is really direct and helps any beginner understand the text of Shakespeare, some may find it too brash, but I thought it worked much better than more worthy later conversions such as Hamlet.
A beautiful reworking of a timeless love story.
2.35 Wide Screen
16:9 Anamorphic Wide Screen
Dolby Digital 5.1 English\Dolby Digital 2.0 English
Dolby Digital 5.1
Dolby Digital 2.0
Commentary By Baz Luhrmann Catherine Martin Don McAlpine And Craig Pearce
Cast And Crew Interviews
Directors Gallery Go Behind The Scenes With Baz Luhrmann
Cinematographers Gallery Scene Studies By Don McAlpine
Design Gallery Production Stills Narrated By Catherine Martin
Music Videos Young Hearts Run Free By Kym Mazelle And Kissing You By Desree
DVD ROM Screenplay Comparison Excerpts
While perhaps not the defining moment in the making of Leonardo DiCaprios career, his appearance in this dazzling take on William Shakepeares Romeo & Juliet back in 1996 did the careers of both Clare Danes and himself no harm at all. Perhaps the real star of the show here though is director Baz Luhrmann, who employs a frenetic, at times downright-brilliant style to the age-old tale of tale of star-crossed lovers. Luhrmann would go on to make Moulin Rouge a few years later. From the off, his take on Romeo & Juliet explodes unpredictably onto the screen, bubbling with vision and originality, accompanied throughout by an excellent score and soundtrack that rightly spawned two spin-off CDs. There are sacrifices made along the way to support Luhrmanns vision though, with the text being stripped down to leave the core of the story in tact, and thats just one of a number of complaints that Shakespeare purists may have. And yet, perhaps more than any other attempt to bring the work of the Bard to the screen of late, this is an extremely accessible entry-point to Shakepeares work. That its also by turns breathtaking, dazzling and a sheer joy to watch doesnt harm its cause either. The two leads are charming, the support cast backs them up superbly, and the end result is one of the most interesting visual treats that Hollywood mustered up throughout the 1990s.--Simon Brew