If you’re looking for an educational portrayal of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, then this probably isn’t the film for you. However, if you want a fresh, heart tugging, breath stealing, modern adaptation that will make you love the story forever more, then this is perfect for you!
Not only do you get action, thrills, blood, car chases, tears and a class A example of reckless youth, but you’re also given love, romance AND Leonardo Di Caprio, ALL in one DVD! The editing is painfully effective, switching from quick shots, to slow, heart beating dragged out scenes. Utterly fantastic!
Gun fights. Helicopters. Drama. Your heart rate will be set racing by the opening scene of Romeo & Juliet; however dull the title may sound, DO NOT be fooled! Fast scenes and dramatic music (which continues to be fantastic throughout) perfectly highlights the huge rift between the Capulet’s and the Montague’s. The adrenaline fuelled introduction is coupled, however with the eerie silence of a television looming at you from the screen. Your peaceful viewing is suddenly shattered by explosions, fire and enough drama to fuel an episode of Eastenders, as you get the first taste of this incredible film! Baz Luhrman really lays on the cheese thick, with this sequence, however – not a cheese fan – I know it works. You’re left speechless with excitement, and on the edge of the seat, just be careful not to fall off when you see what’s coming next...
The film reaches a dramatic turning point half way in, when our supposedly angelic hero, brutally slaughters, the spectacularly hate-able Tybalt (John Leguizamo). The audience is thrown about whilst watching a quick paced, fast changing loud fight scene. We then reach the disturbing moment, where Romeo guns down Tybalt and we are treated to a 20 second close-up of the rather gorgeous, grief stricken Leonardo Di Caprio, giving you ample time to breathe, and calm down after being whipped into frenzy. And boy, do you need it! Baz Luhrmanz successful attempt to exhaust the audience is a scene that is reminiscent to Bambi’s mother’s death in the Disney hit. Utterly disturbing. He effortlessly converts Shakespeare’s boring play –important to history, yet unbearably slow, into a modern box office hit!
I think my favourite part of this incredible film is –though it was hard to choose – the cheeky Mercutio’s death. The camera angles in this scene are unusual, to say the least. A mix of close-ups, over the shoulder and quick pans keep you on your toes. Emotions run high too. You hate Tybalt as he attacks Romeo. You cheer Mercutio as he defends his friends. You feel Romeo’s searing grief as he screams over his best friend’s dead body. The pathetic fallacy used is reminiscent to Han’s Anderson’s fairy tales. The grief and rage flowing through the characters veins goes straight to your heart. Moving. Dramatic. Fantastic. Three words that fit this scene perfectly.
But watch out guys! When you reach the end of this amazing film, tragedy strikes! (Although, you probably already know that, considering you were told at the beginning. Spoiler or what?) Our two main characters end up killing themselves when the likeable Friar Laurence (Pete Postlethwaite) designs an overly complicated plan, which was bound to fail. Tissues at the ready, as the beautiful Juliet (Claire Danes) wakes just in time to witness her beloved Romeo – who she’s know for all of two days – top himself in front of her, while she supposedly lies on her death bed. Complicated, I know, but just hang in there. Our dashing hero was doomed from the word go, but then Juliet shoots herself in sympathy, which was totally un-necessary and overly dramatic, but there we go. (I guess it was either that or she set herself on fire on the massive pyre of candles that surrounds her.) All in all, a devastating ending, with the cast two members down. Shame Really.
So if you haven’t already worked out, I absolutely adore this film. The mise en scene if perfect! The costumes set the scene. The props and backgrounds look like they were sourced directly from the era this film is set in. The sound just hits the spot. The camera angles and movement are innovative. Baz Luhrman has created something to be proud of. If you are looking to spend an evening in, with high emotions, heart wrenching tragedy, great acting (give or take a bit of Clare Dane’s still performance) drama, blood, sweat and tears, then I thoroughly recommend this original adaptation that brings life to Romeo and Juliet! It’s got my stamp of approval.