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Okay, right off, one has to get past the point that this is, aside from
Hurt, an all cat version of Romeo and Juliet. Got that? Okay.
But don't imagine some odd circus act. With narration by John Hurt, and Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet as the score, it is was beautifully shot in Belgium and Venice. They're not really trained cats, they don't wear little costumes, it looks like they're regular cats that they coaxed to move across the sets etc. Then through slow motion effects and editing, they create an illusion of interaction that accompanies the narration. (In much the same way that R2D2 becomes a believable character in the first star wars.)
What recommends this film is the book, by Shakespeare of course, as read by John Hurt, accompanied by beautiful visuals. If you think of it as a picture book that happens to have cats in it, It is easier to lose yourself in.
Amazingly it was also shot in Standard Definition PAL video. Not even digital. It predates the first professional digital camcorders. I believe they did this because they needed to do so many takes to get what they needed from the cats. I heard they ended up with 200 hours of tapes.
I saw it in the transfer to 35mm film in a large theatre. It is certainly one of the best examples of this up to the time of it's production. Great care was obviously taken to work within the limitations of video's color and lighting boundaries. It is a marked contrast to so many of the sloppy and awful looking independent digital video productions that we've seen so much of lately.
Unfortunately it's likely impossible to see this film. Its interest is probably limited to Shakespeare enthusiasts who must see every version, and people interested in seeing a fantastic example of a feature shot on video.
A Masterpiece of music and visual motion. A one of a kind treat for the heart. Set to Prokofiev's theme Romeo-Juliet uses the gracefulness of cats to poetically "dance" to the accompanying score. The poetry of Shakespeare echoes through the voices of wonderful actors. An entirely different genre of film. Magnificent.
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