6.7/10
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580 user 103 critic

Romeo + Juliet (1996)

Trailer
2:15 | Trailer
Shakespeare's famous play is updated to the hip modern suburb of Verona still retaining its original dialogue.

Director:

Baz Luhrmann

Writers:

William Shakespeare (play), Craig Pearce (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Popularity
596 ( 116)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 15 wins & 28 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Leonardo DiCaprio ... Romeo
Claire Danes ... Juliet
John Leguizamo ... Tybalt
Harold Perrineau ... Mercutio
Lupita Ochoa Lupita Ochoa ... Attractive Girl
Pete Postlethwaite ... Father Laurence
Gloria Silva Gloria Silva ... Nun
Paul Sorvino ... Fulgencio Capulet
Brian Dennehy ... Ted Montague
Paul Rudd ... Dave Paris
Vondie Curtis-Hall ... Captain Prince
Carolyn Valero Carolyn Valero ... Middle Age Occupant
Miriam Margolyes ... The Nurse
Paco Morayta Paco Morayta ... Middle Age Occupant
Jesse Bradford ... Balthasar
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Storyline

The classic story of Romeo and Juliet, set in a modern-day city of Verona Beach. The Montagues and Capulets are two feuding families, whose children meet and fall in love. They have to hide their love from the world because they know that their parents will not allow them to be together. There are obstacles on the way, like Juliet's cousin, Tybalt, and Romeo's friend Mercutio, and many fights. But although it is set in modern times, it is still the same timeless story of the "star crossed lovers".

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Classic Love Story Set in Our Time. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for scenes of contemporary violence and some sensuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the opening scene, when the Montagues arrive they are singing along to the radio where one sings, 'Double, double, toil and trouble ..' a repeated line from William Shakespeare's Macbeth. See more »

Goofs

When Juliet meets Friar Laurence in the church she's wearing gloves. When he hands her the vial, her gloves are off. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Anchorwoman: Two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Verona, where we lay our scene. From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes, a pair of star-crossed lovers take their life, whose misadventured piteous overthrows doth, with their death, bury their parents' strife. The fearful passage of their death-marked love and the continuance of their parents' rage, which, but their children's end, naught could ...
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Connections

Version of Romeo & Juliet (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

Liebestod
(from Tristan and Isolde)
Performed by Leontyne Price
Written by Richard Wagner
See more »

User Reviews

Poetry to Visual Affect
16 June 2000 | by tedgSee all my reviews

This is not Shakespeare's best play, but it has his best poetry; that's because the play is ABOUT language, about the difference between what something is and the language used to describe it. So among the plays, this may be one of the hardest to film. But alas it suffers from another blessing which is also a curse: the story itself is so powerful that one can build any sort of film or play or whatever around it and have it be likely to work. Thus, we often lose the language.

Zefrelli made his own choices in the earlier film; these were relatively conventional. While it cut some valuable language, sacrificed to the gods of contemporary patience, it is by far the better version. But here we have some interesting choices.

First the setting. Italians to Shakespeare's England were a comical people, and his setting of the play there would have encouraged the audience to bring heavy stereotypes to the drama. Latins in his day were considered: Foppish: Quick to violence (a stereotype that has been inherited by blacks today, but to Londoners, Italians were nearly Africans): Incredibly proud especially as regards slights to masculinity: Obsessed with weapons.

Today, we roll those up under the relatively crude notion of stupid Latin macho. In this film, the director has exaggerated the Latin macho ethic to have the same effect 16th century Londoners would get. It works because these stereotypes are powerful memes which attract many hosts which perpetuate their underlying truth. Baz adds the additional dimension of the people being captured by the superstitious underbelly of the Church.

He deliberately straddles the border between apparent truth and satire. These Latins are superficial visually and not verbally. So here is the solution to the problem on how to make a film (which is primarily a visual medium) out of a play that leverages poetic language. The solution is to convert all the metaphors from language to vision. Hence the much-noted lack of poetry. I imagine Baz directing the players to not worry so much about the poetry.

Both Romeo and Juliet are incapable of performing the poetry anyway: they are children learning on the job. And what acting skill they have from film is all in the face, not the tongue. They are pretty enough though.

I like this film for its boldness. Some of the experiment works since we get the message of the difference between what we see and what is true. This is why Juliet has to see a LIVE Romeo at the end. Living under water is used to good effect. But in the real play, there are so many and such subtle explorations of the theme, and these are scoured away here for a few broad effects. The real message, which comes through loud and clear if you know the play (or even Zefrelli's film) is not the distance between the reality of events and the language, but the reality of the richness of the real play and this film. Equally vast. Equally powerful statement. So we have a playhouse with the back part blasted out to the sea.

As a separate matter, the play has three anchors: Mercutio, the Friar and the Nurse. These are handled interestingly here.

The Friar is an alchemical master hiding under the cloak of the Church. The play equates the magic of language with the magic of potions, equally deadly. The congruence is lost in this film, but Baz definitely gets the magic part as well as the superfluous ritual of the church. This friar is a terrific, memorable performance of someone who believes he can defeat nature. Serves as an anchor as intended.

The Nurse is the true domestic, raw nature, full of uncompromised loyalty but ultimately compromised. Her character is lost here. We NEED to know about the dead sister and why the nurse turns on Juliet in order to save her life. Baz fails here, and so provides no center. For Shakespeare, she's the white space on the palette.

Mercutio in the play is a emotionally engaged visionary mystic. We understand that Romeo and Mercutio studied magic (`philosophy') abroad together much as Hamlet and Horatio had. The dream they shared the night before is the axis of the whole action: rather like the magic of the witches in Macbeth. Baz gets this as well: Modern magic is what? Drugs. So Hamlet is given a psychotropic by Mercutio before going to the party. Works for me, because it allows everything to be visually blasted and inexorably tragic. The whole thing after the party is a trip, see? It is why they can meet, become entranced and arrange marriage after an hour or two. (Remember that until this point Romeo is hopelessly smitten by Roseline.)

Anyone who wrestles with problems of filming the Bard and comes out alive deserves my respect. This is a weird interpretation, but that's the point.


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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site

Country:

USA | Mexico | Australia | Canada

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 November 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$14,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$11,133,231, 3 November 1996

Gross USA:

$46,351,345

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$151,842,608
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS (as dts) (DTS HD Master Audio 5.1) (5.1 Surround Sound) (5.1)| Dolby Digital (as Dolby Digital) (Dolby Digital 5.1) (5.1 Surround Sound) (5.1)| SDDS (as Sony Dynamic Digital Sound) (8 channels) (5.1 Surround Sound) (5.1)| D-Cinema 48kHz 5.1 (D-Cinema prints) (5.1 Surround Sound) (5.1)| Dolby Atmos (Dolby Atmos) (5.1 Surround Sound) (5.1)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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