One of the few films' to capture the breathless spirit of 'Romeo and Juliet'.
Although surpassed by Baz Luhrmann, this is as good a version of 'Romeo and Juliet' as you could hope for. Like Luhrmann, the director here doesn't make it simply a film about young people, but a film whose action is driven by young people - the play's exhilirating speed, its exultant highs and gaping lows, its eternal present tense, its random luck and horror, only make sense in this way.
Romeo and Juliet might only be silly teenagers, who will love passionately one person one day, and love another with equal vehemence tomorrow. But as you get older, you realise that only teenagers truly know love, freed from responsibility and the shadow of the future - anyone over 20 in these roles would make the play ridiculous. Because the series of events that provoke the play's closure - especially the 'wise' priest and his daft potion - is pretty silly.
This sense of now-now-now, of propulsion; this romantic commingling of all-encompassing love and death, is only ever really felt by teenagers, and the generous impulse that leads Romeo to Juliet also precipitates his decline, through his loyal feelings for his friend. Even the grave rivalry between the Capulets and Montagus seems like the squabbling of children. Which, morally, it is.
This cartoon captures this sense of youthful lightness within tragic events perfectly. The best scenes are the best scenes in Luhrmann, but with a different emphasis. There is more thought given to the Elizabethan culture that produced Romeo and Juliet, and its Veronese setting. So the visual texture acomodates the emblematic and ritualistic elements of the play - the party is a glorious, parti-coloured affair, complete with contemporary jesters and musicians; while the love scene moves from the physical to emblematic, the lovers' bodies transcending the confines of a bedroom and floating exultant in the air.
The costume and colour throughout is beautifully evocative, but the most impressive sequence is the balcony scene, overlooking a huge, overgrown garden at dusk, bounded by high walls, destroyed by Romeo's impetuous passion. The effect is almost Gothic.
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