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Et Tu, Lurhmann (1 Viewer)

Fakespeare

Senior Member
[off topic] It sucks, but it's somewhat funny. Well, mainly it's just the title. I wrote it when I was 13, so back off. [/off topic]
In Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet” the Bard’s classic tale of two star crossed lovers takes an odd twist. Although most of the original dialogue is kept, the storyline is set in a far more recent time period. The movie is rather a muddy cross between the rival gangs of “West Side Story”, and the flashy colors and fast paced action of “Rebel Without a Cause”. Although this modern spin should, in theory, allot for a newer audience for Shakespeare, the confusion caused by the directors stylistic choices tend to distract from the actual plot.

The whole storyline of Romeo and Juliet centers around the nature of the couple’s relationship. In the movie, the couple does not seem to be lovers so much as friends, which is the exact opposite of what Shakespeare was trying to achieve. His true intention was to show the to being trapped in a steamy, lusty, and completely impulsive relationship. They never had time to develop the friendship that is so commonly accepted as the foundation of love. Yet, Leonardo DiCaprio and Clare Danes seem to be best friends who knew each other since childhood, not strangers fallen into desperate romance.

Another issue with the couple’s relationship is that, thanks in part to the first scene being stripped to bare bones, the audience never get to see very much of the rivalry between the two households. The bits and pieces that are seen are often lost in the confusion created by the erratic camera angles, the distractingly loud costumes and settings, and the mind-boggling anachronisms that are inevitable when one takes a play written for Elizabethan era commoners, yanking it from a quiet Italian setting, and throwing it into a muddy mix of Miami, Mexico City, and L.A. in an odd time period that tends to switch between the 80’s, 90’s, 70’s, and the 40’s. The viewer is often so wrapped up in trying to get used to all of these oddities, that they often lose the plot.

One of the few things that help keep true Shakespeare fans sane during the movie are the cute allusions to Shakespearian plays, history, and themes. In one scene, a billboard proclaim its slogan as “Double Double, Toil and Trouble,” a quote straight from Macbeth. There are also allusions to Hamlet: “Out, out damn spot cleaners,” and “Rozencranzky’s.” More subtle hints include the refrences to themes common to the Bard’s plays, such as that of the gods. A clever viewer will catch the irony of Capulet’s costume choice for the party: He is Bacchus, the god of parties.


All in all, the movie has it’s good moments, but those are far outweighed by the moments in which the plot, the dialogue, and even the actors seem lost and confused. The idea was good, but the final product turned out to be less than thrilling. It may have introduced a few more people to Shakespeare, but they surely aren’t going to go home and check out Love’s Labors Lost any time soon.
 
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