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The play Titus Andronicus is Shakespeare's first tragedy, and it shows. Though the dialog is top-notch, he hasn't got a handle on the mechanisms of tragedy yet. The action veers from bloody misfortune to misfortune without the internal logic of, say, King Lear. In modern terms, it's more "Nightmare on Elm Street" than "Fargo."
None of that matters, however. Taymor has chosen a fantastic cast, including Hopkins as the titular Roman general drivin to the brink of madness, Jessica Lange as his sultry nemesis, the Goth queen Tamora (proving how smolderingly sexy middle age can be), and Laura Fraser skillfully underplaying a potentially histrionic nightmare. The superb performances thoroughly mask the creaks in the plot.
More than anything, however, the production design is worth .... Taymor's absolutely insane in the best possible ways. Her Shakespearean Rome is an anachronistic stew -- jeeps and motorcycles share the roads with carts and horses, soldiers fight with arrows, knives, and guns. The costumes must be seen to be believed. Taymor keeps a firm reign on the disparate design elements, filling each frame with fever-dream colors and subtle symbolism. There are images in this film that will be permanently seared into your subconscious.Read more ›
And yet, Julie Taymor has taken this play and made something amazing. The characters exist in a blended world of Rome under Caesar and Mussolini. It is a visual masterpiece. Titus Andronicus (Anthony Hopkins) is a military man, who trusts in the divine right of the emperor. When that trust is betrayed in the harshest way possible, Titus begins a slow descent into madness and revenge. Tamora (Jessica Lange) is the conquered Queen of the Goths who finds a new seat of power as the wife of corrupt Emperor Saturninus. And most impressive is Aaron the Moor, who has no loyalties other than his own love of evil. A villain who can be said to be the only winner in this sad tale.
I began to watch the movie about 3:00AM fully expecting to watch an hour or so, until I got too tired to watch anymore. The beginning was so engrossing I knew I had to turn it off after five or ten minutes because this fascinating and wholly unorthodox adaptation of the Bard's most violent play not only required but deserved my complete attention for which I would be richly rewarded.
I like Anthony Hopkins a lot but not for the roles that most the general public like him for, i.e. Silence of the Lambs and Magic. This enlivening portrayal I find far more satisfying than the those others. This is a character of deep motivations created by years of warring in the name of the Empire. These motivations cause Titus Andronicus to make a situtation calamitous to him and his family.
Though Titus' character is by many times the most richly drawn, the other principals are also very absorbing and perfectly played. Alan Cummings was surprisingly effective as the increasingly tyrannical Saturninus. Jessica Lange seemed, at first, to be a curious choice as Tamora, Queen of the Goths but she was splendid. I found all the performers to be exceptional.
This is a very violent story but it is shot in a non-exploitive way, though the revelations still manage to shock. Director Julie Taymor, in a most impressive feature film debut, adapts the screenplay from her own stage production. Her vision plays with the period setting incorporating many 20th century devices.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is my first experience with Titus. It was riveting, but not always easy to watch. If you're unfamiliar with it, be aware that it is an unrelenting tragedy. Read morePublished 1 month ago by C. Ellis
While not being enthusiastic about Julie Taymor's productions of the operas "Œdipus rex" and "Die Zauberflöte," this writer regards her first film,... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Brian Morgan
FAMILY/MOMMY DEAREST/DADs SWEET
REVENGE. What all good fairy tales are
Julie Taymor's director's commentary is worth the price of the DVD. She ties this bloody play to the present era brilliantly, and it's fascinating to hear what she had in mind in... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Jinny Webber
Don't buy this unless you are a true fan of antiquated filming.Published 7 months ago by Leo R. Therrien
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