Monday, March 23, 2015

Must See Movie Monday - Romeo + Juilet (1996)

Film: Romeo + Juliet
Released: 1996
Rated: PG-13
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes
Short Summary: Basically a modernized spin on Shakespeare's tragic play about two doomed young lovers and their feuding families.

Why It's A Must See Movie

Shakespeare has basically overtaken my life at the moment. For some reason whenever I get ready to watch a movie lately it ends up being some rendition of a Shakespeare play. I thought since that was my current mood I would go ahead and watch Baz Luhrmann's spin on Romeo and Juliet. This movie was one of the earliest film versions of Shakespeare I watched as a youth. I can't say that it was the first because I'm vaguely sure that I watched that 1993 version of Much Ado About Nothing first. Never the less this 1996 Romeo and Juliet was one of the earliest things that exposed me to Shakespeare and to Baz Luhrmann as a director. Thus, it will always hold a special place in my heart.

This film version of Romeo and Juliet is probably my favorite out of all the versions I have seen. It's not just because of the modern spin that was put on the play. Though while we are on the subject of modernized Shakespeare I will say that this is one of the few films in which the modernization completely works. That is probably because many of the concepts the play centers around are still relevant today. Unfortunately people will always start up violence when they no longer even know why they started the fight in the first place, and wacky teenagers do still rush into love without thought of the consequences.

Another reason why the modern setting works is do the the high level of world building that is contained in both the screenplay and the visuals. The filmmakers did an excellent job at creating a world where you believe that the characters would be talking in poetic verse and carry guns named after swords. I think it's even more awesome that they did this without actually altering too much of the original text of the play.

All the technical elements of the film are just so wonderfully artistic and visually appealing. I love how high color everything is. I love the lighting and the camera angles. There is a definite rhythm to the way the film is edited. It is equal parts choppy and smooth in all the right place of the film. All of these things along with the the costumes, set design, and music help tell the story. What is so smart about all these elements as well is that some of these things in it are done to subconsciously translate Shakespeare's language for the non-Sheakespeare watching viewer. It's the little things that you don't think about about that actually matter in this film.

As usual I must give high praise for the actors in this film. Shakespeare can be a crazy thing for an actor. Not just because of the language but because the characters have so many layers and interpretations. All the actors did well at making Shakespeare seem natural. Not only that but I feel like they captured the depth of emotion required for the play. It's easy to forget that Romeo and Juliet has to be funny as well as tragic. The director and the actors knew how to capture that, as well as capture the intense emotional content. I've seen at least a couple versions of the Romeo and Juliet where the high emotional scenes just come off kind of cheesy. That doesn't happen in this version. This is probably the main reason why this version is my favorite.

I know Shakespeare might not be everyone's cup of tea. I've found that the best way of enjoying it is to find a balance of not thinking too much but not thinking too little. I personally like that feeling of doing that thought process. However, even if you don't I still highly suggest checking this movie out. The visual experience is totally worth it. Just a warning before I go. You might be getting more Shakespeare next week, because I am currently obsessed.

I thought why not re-post the Romeo and Juliet Montage video that I edited awhile back to end the post.

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