Romeo and Juliet: The Movie
William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is fully summarized in Shakespeare's
"Two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Verona where we lay our scene.
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny where civil blood make civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes, a pair of star crossed lovers who take their
life" (Universal, 1996).
This movie is a masterful culmination of the director's
phenomenal ability to create a powerful introduction, to select a realistic, but surreal
setting, to choose realistic actors, and to enact specialized dramatic effects.
Sitting in the theater, watching this movie for the first time, I heard static break in to
interrupt the beginning credits.
A newscaster, sounding serious, came on the screen in a
I sat up to pay attention.
She was reporting a tragedy that had recently
happened in some place called Verona.
I was pulled in thinking it to be a true special
It was a trick.
A trick to get people to do just what I did.
we to listen to newscasts, our life-line in present day society, where we receive a lot of
A trick, and I fell for it--so did everyone else--how clever.
sound of crying, chorusing angels screaming angry chants echoed around the theater
(great surround sound effect).
Images (clips from the movie) flashed sporadically on the
A dark, sinister voice retold Shakespeare's prologue given in the telecast
The angels were still screaming, and then, silence.
A big truck flashed
on the screen and gave a hearty engine growl.
The truck sped loudly down the road.
Stringy electric guitars and booming drums thump a loud vengeful beat.
boys took the scene, standing up in the back of the truck waving their guns and shouting.
At this point, I was hooked.
The music had lured me in.
It gave the scene life, and, in
turn, the scene gave life to the music.
Leah Rozen of People Weekly would disagree.
She states there should be some sort of
disclaimer to warn audiences about "mistaking the audacious version of his
(Shakespeare's) star crossed teen lovers for an extended music video."
For her, this
movie should have been called Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet; Rozen says the
director plunked down the tragic romance into a "modern urban hellhole."
hellhole, are "warring gangs, piled on religious iconography, and pointless water
imagery, and, oh yes, Mercutio is a singing drag queen."
Rozen says what's missing amid
the "frantic activity and eye candy" is the poetry.
She says there is nothing wrong with
updating a classic, but hopes this "rocket fueled Romeo and Juliet won't be the only
version its young audience ever sees.
That would be a tragedy" (Rozen).
I found the introduction to the movie to be riveting.