William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet
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Baz Luhrmann’s modern classic unfolds with its heart on its sleeve and guns ablaze. In this dazzling adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic love story, Oscar® Nominee Leonardo DiCaprio stars opposite Claire Danes. They light up the screen as the original star-crossed lovers against a thumping soundtrack and a boldly imagined modern-day setting. A brand-new transfer from the original camera negative has been overseen frame by frame by director Baz Luhrmann for this Blu-ray release, making the film available in high definition for the first time.
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So English teacher gives 2 thumbs up. Normal viewer-- hmm. Two thumbs up for Leo ;)
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.
The best thing that Luhrmann did though was casting Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in the lead roles. At the time DiCaprio was slowly becoming a credible actor and Danes was just becoming known. Neither of them were quote-unquote household names or completely bankable yet but they both had proven they could act. Here though we get to see how well. To this day I still firmly believe that this is Leonardo's finest performance. Both he and Danes masterfully command their characters. Never has Romeo or Juliet felt so alive, so real and so relatable. Their tragic love affair is so enthralling, so captivating and so breathtaking. There are moments between them of pure beauty and strength that I'm appalled their performances didn't garner more awards attention.
The rest of the cast is equally as impressive, especially the likes of Harold Perrineau (of `Lost' fame) who plays Romeo's best friend Mercutio. His performance is outlandish and flamboyant and adds a lot to the atmosphere of the film. John Leguizamo is memorable as Tybolt, Juliet's cousin, and Pete Postlethwaite is wonderful as Father Laurence. Paul Sorvino stands out for me as Juliet's father Fulgencio Capulet. His performance is brutal and intense and sends chills down my spine in scenes.
`William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet' has never looked as good as it does here, telling the story of forbidden love and tragic circumstance that brings two families to their knees and teaches us a valuable lesson about forgiveness and tolerance. Baz Luhrmaan outdoes himself here, delivering a modern twist on a genuine classic complete with a beautiful color palate and an impressive soundtrack that adds layers of emotion, whether soft and touching or crisp and exciting. It's not very often that the remake stands above it's source material but Luhrmann's masterpiece is just that film.
Oh yeah, the soundtrack is amazing!
Only one complaint - the subtitles for the balcony scene added a comma in the most important line: Wherefore art thou Romeo? (They say, "Wherefore art thou, Romeo?") Wherefore means WHY, not WHERE. I hammered that into my students and here came the subtitles to undermine me.
Other than that, a pretty perfect movie to use as a first-time exposure to Shakespeare.