In the city of Verona, two families have a prolonged and ancient feud. The Montagues and the Capulets co-exist under the stern eye of the Prince, but the hatred between the families threatens all, in particular the children. The young men of both families are hot-blooded and ready to fight at any provocation, despite the Prince's edict against such fights. But when young Romeo, a Montague, first sets eyes on the virginal Capulet daughter Juliet, no enmity between families can prevent his falling in love with her, and her with him. From this risk-laden romance comes both joy and tragedy for all. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Let's face it, Shakespeare would have written a different script for a film
Everyone seems to get their panties in a twist over the fact that Fellowees changed the dialogue. While I admit that this seems a tad egotistical, it's not altogether illogical. The real problem isn't even that he left things out (indeed, unlike many adaptions, Rosalind and Paris were kept, as well as the death of Paris). But rendering and adding things is not seen as appropriate.
But let's face it; Elizabethan Theatre is an entirely different writing medium to modern film adaption. There are a number of things that had to happen in those days. Notice they say 'I die' every time someone dies? They talk about their feelings an exceptional amount? And there are other near invisible things that would be entirely different. Shakespeare may have been a genius, but if you pulled up an unknown script of a similar level of genius from this era and made a word for word film, I doubt you could expect a great audience reaction. I've seen kids literally sleep through Polanski's Macbeth and even shrug at Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet (except when they were noting the lead's similarities to Zefron), yet be highly engaged by the stage performance of the play.
Visually, this film is utterly gorgeous. Whoever chose the locations deserves a french kiss from the world. From the first shots of Juliet running in her orange dress, the audience is stunned by the use of colour and scenery. The costumes were great (I don't think anyone was complaining when we saw a gorgeous Douglas Booth is an open white shirt chiseling away). The hair was to die for and the acting wasn't so bad as everyone makes out. Fact is, everyone's used to it being acted VERY Shakespearean. Which isn't how films work. If you're asking for that style of acting, you ought to see the play and burn the movie. The actors here took a more naturalistic approach, which seems flat, but that's probably because it's naturalistic and this is Elizabethan theatre in a period adaption for a 21st century audience. Are we seeing where some things are bound to get tangled?
That all said, there are two things that I can't justify:
Far too much kissing. Like all the time. It felt like too much sometimes. A lot. This is probably where people see the lack of chemistry, because the kisses seem to come out of nowhere, are accompanied with virtually no crescendo musical masterpieces or great camera shots, and are usually cock-blocked by the nurse.
Unless your students are well versed in the play, this shouldn't be the go to for schools studying Romeo and Juliet. Let's face it; a lot of kids don't exactly read the whole play, might write things in their essays that only happened in the movie if they watch it. The thing that everyone complains about (the adding of lines) is only truly detrimental here. The other versions (Baz's and Zeffirelli's) only omitted things, rather than adding things, and is a lot safer for educational purposes.
If you're not studying it; if you haven't studied it to the point at which added lines would make you feel ill; if you aren't an absurd prat about purist R&J (keep Shakespeare Shakespearean? I don't even...), then this is a good movie. And Booth is delectable. Always.
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