Romeo và Juliet is rarely lauded as the greatest of Shakespeare’s plays, an honor that usually goes khổng lồ Hamlet or Macbeth or King Lear.

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Yet Romeo & Juliet might be the most important Shakespeare: It’s the one almost everybody reads first, the one that entices our young, unformed selves to lớn struggle with its language, initially so strange to lớn modern ears. It’s a story of gang wars fueled by testosterone, love at first sight, & melodramatic, I-can’t-live-without-you double suicide, but it’s also the gateway drug to lớn one of the richest, most resonant bodies of work in the English language. Romeo & Juliet is a crazy-beautiful play, and although there are thousands of ways lớn adapt it, from staid to gonzo, Baz Luhrmann’s William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet—25 years old this week—is, among film versions, perhaps the most purely alive.

Because actors ostensibly need training và skill lớn navigate Shakespeare’s words, most productions of Romeo & Juliet cast performers who are older than the characters as he wrote them: Juliet is 13 (“she hath not seen the change of fourteen years,” according to her father); Romeo’s age is unspecified, but he’s thought khổng lồ be around 17. Luhrmann wasn’t the first filmmaker khổng lồ cast age-appropriate actors: In his 1968 adaptation, Franco Zeffirelli cast Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey, 17 & 15, as the star-crossed lovers. The film became a staple of junior-high literature classes for years. (If you came of age in that era, you and your classmates probably giggled over Leonard Whiting’s naked ass.)

But the actors in Luhrmann’s version, Leonardo Di
Caprio và Claire Danes, aged 21 và 17 at the time of filming, are even more luminous than Zeffirelli’s gorgeously youthful duo, and in today’s context, their performances are even more touching than they were 25 years ago. The film overall has aged better than you’d think—which is khổng lồ say it has hardly aged at all. Although Luhrmann và co-writer Craig Pearce had to trim the play to lớn fit into a reasonable two-hour runtime, their script largely preserves the original language. Watching Romeo + Juliet today is to be reminded of the wonder of Shakespeare, a writer whose work is so capacious & elastic that it can enfold countless interpretations & reinventions, winning over one generation after another with ease.

Lurhmann and his longtime production & costume designer Catherine Martin (also his wife) re-envisioned the play’s Verona setting in Mexico City & Veracruz, incorporating real-life locations—like Mexico City’s extravagantly decorated Immaculate Heart of Mary Church—into the story. Guns, rather than swords and daggers, are the weapons of choice, and lượt thích many of the props và costumes used in the film, they’re adorned with vibrant Catholic iconography—a handgun decorated with a benevolent Virgin Mary makes for a particularly vivid & painful irony. The Montague gang, a bunch of blockhead yobbos who favor tropical shirts unbuttoned over bare chests, stand off against the Capulet guys, a crew of slickly dressed urban cowboys in Cuban-heeled boots, with a hatred that’s white-hot. The Capulet Tybalt (John Leguizamo) is a sly devil with a soul patch & twin spit-curls, a sexy hothead who’s been carrying a grudge so long he has no idea how it started.

That’s the essential tragedy of the Capulets và the Montagues: They have no idea why they’re fighting, but their warring ways mean that the union of the Montague Romeo & the Capulet Juliet is hopeless. In Luhrmann’s vision, the most affecting casualty of the gang wars between the two is Romeo’s bestie Mercutio—a loyal companion who is possibly in love with his friend—played by Harold Perrineau as a glittery-gorgeous heir to lớn disco legend Sylvester.

Luhrmann’s film is a dizzying assemblage of fast cutting & mad camera swirls; scenes sometimes chop off abruptly, leaving you reaching out, longing for more—but even that is part of the movie’s brash, prismatic lyricism, and because of it, Perrineau’s entrance is one of the most memorable in all of 1990s cinema: He arrives on the scene—a crumbling seaside amusement park—leaping out of a convertible in a two-piece silver mini-shorts outfit & heels, wearing a trắng candy-floss wig, his lips a smear of red lipstick. The song that heralds his arrival is Kym Mazelle’s version of the Candi Staton hit “Young Hearts Run Free.” He’s here, he’s queer, get used lớn it: Perrineau’s Mercutio is a bold pirouette of freedom. His death at Tybalt’s hand—which occurs just as, in real life, a storm was brewing in Veracruz, where the scene was being shot—leaves a hole in the film. It’s a turning point that feels lượt thích a personal wound.

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That’s just one example of the piercing immediacy of Romeo + Juliet. & the film’s array of gifted actors—some of whom are completely comfortable with Shakespearean language, others attempting it for possibly the first time—is part of its ever-unfolding delight. The late Pete Postlethwaite is both rousing và affecting as Father Laurence (his name a slight variation on the play’s Friar Laurence), an optimistic man of the cloth who hopes that the love between two young people will heal the rift between warring families. The marvelous character actor Miriam Margolyes is effervescent as Juliet’s loyal, adoring Nurse. Paul Rudd makes a beaming, squeaky-clean “Dave” Paris, the suitor Juliet’s parents (played by Paul Sorvino & Diane Venora) have chosen for her, never mind that he’s all wrong.

Because there’s only one true husband for Danes’ Juliet, and you know it from the moment the two meet, at a costume ball at the Capulets’ swanky mansion. Di
Caprio’s disguised Romeo spies his Juliet from the other side of an aquarium shimmering with polychrome fish. First he sees just one coquettish eye: it’s framed by a piece of coral, lượt thích a jewel. The moment the two spot one another is so radiant with possibility it defies language. This is how a great filmed version of Shakespeare can unlock a whole world, especially for a young person who’s anxious about comprehending the language.

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Caprio’s Romeo—first glimpsed in a moody moment by the sea, as he writes in his journal—is practically alight with a charming, nonthreatening openness. But it’s Danes who’s most heartrending: Her features have a malleable softness. In her moment of deepest despair, her face crumples—it is one of the most naked instances of ugly-crying in the movies, & Danes raises her hand khổng lồ her face almost instinctively, to lớn shield us from Juliet’s pain, and to afford her character some privacy.

When Romeo + Juliet was first released, many critics scoffed. I was one of them—I believe I referred khổng lồ the film as “garish junk” in my review. But in the days after I filed that review, I kept thinking about the movie, about those young faces—about that ugly crying, about the way Romeo comes khổng lồ Juliet on the night of their wedding, after he has killed Tybalt, và how the shelves in her bedroom are lined with her childhood dolls. I found myself longing to lớn see the film again, and so I did. The second time, I got it. The fast cutting no longer annoyed me—once I went along with the current, the movie’s rhythms made complete sense. I realized that this was not only not a bad movie; it was one of the most beautiful film versions of Shakespeare I had ever seen. I recall friends complaining that Di
Caprio and Danes had no idea what they were doing, that they had no mastery over the material. But that’s exactly the point: their Romeo + Juliet is one of pure feeling, a flame burning fast và clean. Movies are neither made nor received in a vacuum, & they have a life beyond what we can initially imagine for them. That’s why so many of today’s grownups who saw Romeo + Juliet as kids will never forget it. & that is how a play lives forever, reinvented again & again across the centuries, even as its bones and its heart remain intact.

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Parents Say: age 13+ 14 reviews
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The violence of this adaptation does an excellent job of obscuring the message of peace at the root of the story."> Positive Messages

The violence of this adaptation does an excellent

Predominant figures commit murder, aggravated assault, & glamorize violence through the use of decorative, threatening weaponry & fashion. Romeo makes a vengeance killing; the two protagonists take their own lives."> Positive Role Models

Predominant figures commit murder, aggravated assa

Bloody gangster-style shoot-outs, gun-play, car assaults, murder, & suicide."> Violence & Scariness

Bloody gangster-style shoot-outs, gun-play, car as

Frank and demonstrative sexual humor & innuendo, Romeo và Juliet cốt truyện more than a couple of passionate kisses."> Sex, Romance và Nudity

Frank và demonstrative sexual humor and innuendo,

Dialogue is classic, expletive-free Shakespeare."> Language Not present

Dialogue is classic, expletive-free Shakespeare.

Heavy simulations of brand names và products."> Products và Purchases

Heavy simulations of brand names và products.

Smoking, drinking. A priest imbibes unspecified experimental potions. Romeo swallows a tablet of Ecstasy."> Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Smoking, drinking. A priest imbibes unspecified ex

Parents Need to lớn Know

Parents need khổng lồ know that this film features a considerable amount of blood, violence, and explicit references khổng lồ sex. Prostitution, brief nudity, teen sex, gang-related deaths, car assaults, bloody fistfights, & a gangster pointing a pistol directly at a child"s face, makes this film inappropriate for kids under…

The violence of this adaptation does an excellent job of obscuring the message of peace at the root of the story.

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Predominant figures commit murder, aggravated assault, and glamorize violence through the use of decorative, threatening weaponry & fashion. Romeo makes a vengeance killing; the two protagonists take their own lives.

Most of the nhận xét for this film leave me wondering how many people actually read the original play. Don"t watch this film và complain about the violence & sexuality: the original play is rife with both. The opening scene is a street brawl, two characters are later killed, và two more commit suicide. While exploring the text in class I tell my students to assume that everything that comes out of Mercutio"s mouth is reminiscent of 50 Shades of Grey. He"s absolutely filthy, and both Romeo & Benvolio get in on it whenever they"re together và Romeo"s not moping about. The only reason Romeo is so depressed at the beginning of the play is because he can"t get any from Rosaline, a girl he"s been hounding but who has been unwilling lớn respond. This is a book about reckless & thoughtless teens with too much time on their hands and too much money in their blood. This film shows that, so expect the worst kind of behaviour.The film is an accurate depiction of two melodramatic kids who love the idea of love rather than truly loving each other (as is often stated by Friar Laurence). Shakespeare mocks young love as being nothing more than blind lust và causing nothing but trouble. It"s not romantic; it"s volatile, & there is no message of peace at the root of the film as Common Sense truyền thông states in their review. There is only one character who doesn"t just talk about peace but actively works toward it, and that"s the Friar who lies & manipulates lớn achieve his goal. The parts other reviewers complain about are all in the original play.If you don"t lượt thích this film because it"s too violent and hyper-sexualized, complain about the book, not the film. Baz Lurhmann nails it without getting too graphic or too sexual. It"s intense, but so is the book; the film just cuts out the boring parts & moves along faster. Want to lớn better understand what was really going on in the play? This film is the one to watch.