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Romeo & Juliet [VHS]

4.0 out of 5 stars 1,111 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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Baz Luhrmann (Strictly Ballroom) takes a shot at reinventing Shakespeare's story of star-crossed lovers as a visual pastiche inspired by MTV imagery, Hong Kong action-picture clichés, and Luhrmann's own taste for deliberate, gaudy excess. The result is explosive chaos, both in terms of bullets and visual sensibility, which some may find impossible to stick with for more than a few minutes. Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes play the leads, though not with much distinction, while Pete Postlethwaite makes a huge impression as this movie's version of Friar Laurence. The film is successful in spots, but overall its fever-dream game plan is difficult to ride out. --Tom Keogh

Product Details

  • Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes, John Leguizamo, Harold Perrineau, Pete Postlethwaite
  • Directors: Baz Luhrmann
  • Writers: Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce, William Shakespeare
  • Producers: Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Gabriella Martinelli, Jill Bilcock
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    PG-13
    Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: Fox Home Entertainme
  • DVD Release Date: January 14, 2003
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,111 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 630438551X
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,572 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Romeo & Juliet [VHS]" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I think a lot of reviews of this film have been unduly harsh. I have had a fair amount of Shakespearean exposure (I was an English major in college), and I am actually impressed with Baz Luhrmann's interpretation of the text. Some people are so blinded by the seeming erudite stuffiness of Shakespeare's work that they forget what this play is really about. `Romeo and Juliet' is a teenage melodrama! With that said, this film works well.

* To begin with, Leonardo DiCaprio and Clare Danes come off just right as the "star-crossed lovers." They handle their lines - perhaps - a bit awkwardly, and their key scenes are overacted. But as far as I'm concerned, their somewhat `poor' performances are actually perfect. In the reality of the play - Romeo and Juliet's behavior (though arguably passionate) is less than genuine. They are young, fickle, and full of hormones, and what might seem like acts of heart-felt love and desire are actually just curious explorations of subversive behavior.

* Many have lamented that the dialogue in this film (essentially) mirrors the original text ... but changing the text (in any major way) would be a huge mistake. Shakespeare's plays are not famous because they have a great story line - they are famous because of the unbelievable writing. It would, therefore, be pointless to modernize the dialogue. Shakespeare's plays ARE the dialogue.

* Although this film - compared with other renditions of the play - is decidedly modern, certain elements do contribute to a sort of timely ambiguity. The cars, guns, drugs, and music suggest 1996 (or thereabouts), whereas the gothic mansions, the ball, the feuding families, and the oppressive presence of the Church seem somewhat anachronistic.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This review is STRICTLY for the SPECIAL EDITION DVD of the film. To me it's already a given as to what a masterpiece Baz Luhrmann has put to the screen.
The special edition gives you all the treats you need. I'm not talking about still pages of text to read! I'm talking RAW footage of DiCaprio & Danes practicing their lines, many, many production scenes that leave your mouth open like, "oh, my gosh, I had no idea they had to go through all of that trouble just to shoot that brief scene"-kind of stuff, and best of all, an early treatment (pitch) for the film that was shot in Australia w/ DiCaprio in some alley ways. Rather lengthy, not just a mini-clip, Amazing! Insightful interviews of Baz Luhrmann; why do Shakespeare, how difficult it was to sell the idea to Hollywood, why he made the movie in the style that it is, etc.). If you have the original DVD & are debating, go for it!
The only disappointing thing was the production value of Claire Danes' interview... DiCaprio's interview is well produced & lit on a candle-filled set, then Claire Danes is terribly keyed (matted) over a few still images (her hair buzzing & breaking through the digital distortion). The menus are nicely done, not animated over-kill. This is an anamorphic for those who have the 16:9 TVs.
I haven't even listened to much of the commentary yet, but it sounds very informative & interesting so far. Perhaps the most important thing for those who did not like the film or were unsure, is Luhrmann's explanation of why Shakespeare should have been handled the film the way he did (the intense, in-your-face MTV-like editing / modern settings, etc)... truly both men are very visionary & talented.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
William Shakespeare's classic `Romeo + Juliet' is probably one of the most influential pieces of literature ever recorded. You can feel its presence and influence breathing life into just about everything we read, watch or listen to these days. With a tale this classic, this important to modern cinema it becomes something a bit wary to tackle it at its core and `remake' it from scratch. One may be a tad hesitant to embrace its new shape and form and rightfully so. When you look at the track record for remakes it becomes apparent that in general what was once golden should be left well enough alone. In Romeo + Juliet's case though this is a reimagining so magical it surpasses the original and becomes a momentous piece in the history books of cinema. Yes, Baz Luhrmann single handedly breathes a whole new life into this adaptation, handing to his audience a masterful and experimental film that never lets us out of its grasp.

The first thing that Luhrmann did right was stick to the original text. A lot of people initially balked at the fact that the dialog was not updated along with the setting but I felt that artistically it was a much grander feat to have the original dialog kept intact. The fact that each and every actor slips into this way of speaking fluently and without issue is an ode to some great talent indeed. No one seems out of place of phoning it. Each and every actor handles the difficult wording marvelously. The next thing Luhrmann did right was trashing his setting. What I mean by this is that he didn't go the easy route and make this posh and beautiful but rather he played everything down, creating an almost gritty and dirty feeling to the surroundings. This is the future and the future is bleak.
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