“Two Star-Crossed Lover’s Take Their Life,” were words written by William Shakespeare. Little did he know that his characters would be doing just that, but this time with guns. When Baz Luhrmann re-made this immortal classic he did so with a fresh new outlook that defined a whole new generation. Few could watch the new re-make of “Romeo and Juliet”, without being amazed by its artistry and visionary concepts. Suddenly, Shakespeare was understandable to the kids who brushed off, what was to them, and old fashioned play. Luhrmann’s approach was not even close. He’s about as old-fashioned as Paris Hilton is a new set of stilettos.
Shakespeare is hard to speak. You can speak it, but a lot of times you get caught up in the monotony of it. It is a challenge to be a Shakespearian actor, bazinga for you must speak it as if it is modern day dialog. That being said, the whole cast was phenomenal at it. In a lot of Leonardo DiCaprio’s earlier work he can be that same romantic Joe with the same line deliveries (per example, as in “Titanic”). In this film he does just that but it works for his role as “Romeo.” A teenager in love he has always played well, but in this one he also performs his dramatic scenes very well. The emotions in his eyes when he shoots “Tybalt” are awe inspiring. One of my favorite actors in the whole movie is Claire Danes who plays “Juliet.” In whatever part she plays, she always holds such a natural honesty in her performances that really sells well. The suicide scene just about broke my heart. Her tears flow as if from a center of vulnerability that is just amazing to watch. The best performance was John Leguizamo as “Tybalt Capulet.” His role is not a big one, but the role is a very pivotal character. What he adds to the character is so many personal details that you feel you know this person from the minute he shows up on screen. The scene in which “Mercutio” is dying, truly shows his range and describes to you how violence has ruled “Tybalt’s” life.
Technically the movie was superb. Baz Luhrmann is a master director, because no matter what he is directing, he takes you to a whole different planet. This adaptation works because of him. You almost feel as if you are on a drug trip in fact. Every color, person, prop, and scene holds a purpose and feeling. Also, the music inn the film is a very nice accent. The music is the only non-Shakespeare written dialog in the whole movie. It does great at reinforcing the messages and connections with the modern audience. Last, but not least is the scenic design. Each set was so wonderfully crafted to each scene that you always have something to look at. From the candlelit suicide scene, to the poll wooing scene, to “Father Lawrence’s” cell, etc., etc., etc…..I could go on and on.
If there ever was a prominent message in this movie, it would be the affect of violence. In the play no one ever really knows what started the feud within the two families. In the movie you vaguely see that they are business rivals and there could be something behind there. Whatever it was, the kids become violent. Violence never stops. If you start it will become a recurring theme. The actions of “Tybalt” killing “Mercutio” results in “Romeo” killing “Tybalt,” which eventually results in “Romeo” and “Juliet’s” suicide. We are shown that death is the only consequence of violence. Also, the piece has an underlying theme about teenage romance. After all, just because the movie is in front our faces, doesn’t mean we have to believe it. We have the ability as an audience to do just that. In reality we will never know if “Romeo” and “Juliet” were truly in love. We are shown from the very beginning that “Romeo” is fickle of mind. One moment his is talking about how much he loves “Rosaline” and the next about “Juliet.” The only difference is that “Juliet” returns his affections while “Rosaline” does not. Both “Juliet” and “Romeo” are just romantically inclined teenagers. In fact, we will never really know if their love would have lasted. On the whole, it really doesn’t matter. It is true that we love differently as teenagers than we do as adults, but it still means the same thing….that we are in love.
While Shakespeare never could have predicted how our future has changed things, I think if he was here to see it that he would respect this new adaptation. It only would work with a visionary like Baz Luhrmann. He’s brought the teenagers of our age a way to feel connected to some of Shakespeare’s work, or maybe just a way to understand it a little better. He also gives us a great movie that we can sit down and talk about. A movie that will last for generations.
Rachael Rizzo has been acting since she was nine years old. She uses her experience to write about what the things she loves mean to her (mostly movies and baking). She is twenty-three years old and resides in beautiful Oregon.