This film is an adaptation of the Shakespeare play "Titus Andronicus." Titus returns victorious from war, only to plant the seeds of future turmoil for himself and his family. Who says revenge is sweet?
Forced to play a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse in the chaos of war, an elite Army bomb squad unit must come together in a city where everyone is a potential enemy and every object could be a deadly bomb.
A 19th century French aristocrat, notorious for his scathing memoirs about life in Russia, travels through the Russian State Hermitage Museum and encounters historical figures from the last 200+ years.
War begets revenge. Victorious general, Titus Andronicus, returns to Rome with hostages: Tamora queen of the Goths and her sons. He orders the eldest hewn to appease the Roman dead. He declines the proffered emperor's crown, nominating Saturninus, the last ruler's venal elder son. Saturninus, to spite his brother Bassianus, demands the hand of Lavinia, Titus's daughter. When Bassianus, Lavinia, and Titus's sons flee in protest, Titus stands against them and slays one of his own. Saturninus marries the honey-tongued Tamora, who vows vengeance against Titus. The ensuing maelstrom serves up tongues, hands, rape, adultery, racism, and Goth-meat pie. There's irony in which two sons survive. Written by
In a TV profile on British TV in 2002, Anthony Hopkins confirmed that he had found the experience of working on this film so stressful that he decided at the time to retire from film acting. In the same interview, Hopkins points out that in the dinner scene towards the end of the film he mimics the great British "Knight" actors of Shakespeare: John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson, and Laurence Olivier. See more »
When Tamora leaves the party/orgy to join Aaron on the balcony, her hands are clasped across her chest. In the next shot she is holding a cigarette. See more »
O cruel, irreligious peity!
Was ever Scythia half so barbarous?
Oppose not Scythia to ambitious Rome! Alarbus goes to rest and we survive to tremble under Titus' threat'ning look.
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Titus. Where to begin? Oh yes, at the beginning. William Shakespeare wrote Titus Andronicus early in his career. VERY early in his career, and such is apparent. On stage, this script as a play must be awful. Character motivations are not explained, there are holes in the action, a character leaves the country and then comes back, seemingly only to set up the climax. There is little explanation of action, and it is less poetic than some of his masterworks (Midsummer, Hamlet, Lear). And yet, Julie Taymor, renowned for her fantastical vision of The Lion King on Broadway, chose this, possibly Shakespeare's most problematic play, to be her introduction to film.
This adaptation is wonderful. Why? Because it fills all the holes of the initial play. She adds scenes without dialogue, she makes the setting timeless and symbolic, and removes it from the realm of reality, wherein the play never worked to begin with. She tranforms a difficult play about revenge into much, much more. It is now a feast for the eyes, a commentary on revenge, power, theatre, film, and villiany.
To be fair, I am not giving Shakespeare enough credit. The play he wrote has many marvelous aspects, mainly the Aaron - possibly Shakespeare's greatest villian. He is unrelenting. And in the film, he is wonderfully acted. Titus is a good character too, and Anthony Hopkins acts him well enough.
It would be easy for a Shakespeare purist to say "eww, what was that," but I would call this retelling a gem. It is moody, gritty, passionate, clever, awe-inspiring, and true to the theme of the original script. It has only added to Shakespeare's words. Is it perfect? No. It does make you stretch yourself, the ending is a head-scratcher, but this will be my favorite Shakespeare adaptation for a long time to come. 9/10
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