Friday, June 5, 2015

William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

Movie Name: William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
Year of Release: 1996
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes, John Leguizamo, Harold Perrineau, Pete Postlethwaite, Paul Sorvino, Brian Dennehy, Diane Venora, Paul Rudd, Jesse Bradford, Miriam Margolyes, Vondie Curtis-Hall, M. Emmet Walsh, Jamie Kennedy, Dash Mihok, Christina Pickles
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7

Director Baz Luhrmann made a splash in 1992 with his debut, "Strictly Ballroom", but his career definitely gained more momentum when his interpretation of William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" premiered in 1996, featuring a young cast and a pop soundtrack that resonated with audiences. The story was the traditional adaptation of the Shakespeare story: doomed young lovers, Romeo of the house of Montague, falls in love with the young Juliet of the house of Capulet. Their love tries to overcome the obstacles of the rivalry of both dominant families, but in the end their love story is a doomed one.
The William Shakespeare tale of young doomed love has been adapted countless times by many directors, namely by director George Cukor in 1936 and Franco Zeffirelli in 1968. Baz Luhrmann's version makes a contemporary interpretation of the story, and places the action on a fictional "Verona Beach" and the opposing factions (and families), as warring mafia empires. The director smartly maintains the original dialogue, but updates the surroundings to all the action, creating a hybrid of modern style with classic language. His style of over saturation of colors, quick editing, and pop music also makes the film a direct reflection of the time of its creation, while simultaneously adding a stylistic approach that makes the film very much the vision of Baz Luhrmann (who would crystallize his style with "Moulin Rouge" in 2001). It's a film that ultimately lives from the combination of the dramatic story of the doomed love affair, with the edge, vision of the director and a talented cast assembled. The actors are uniformly good, and this was a great confirmation of the talents of both Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, and also a good showcase of the work of John Leguizamo, Paul Sorvino and Diane Venora, who all shine in smaller yet memorable roles. The cinematography from Donald McAlpine is stunning as is the score from Nellee Hooper (who produced albums for Bjork and Massive Attack). A good film always worth revisiting.