Romeo And Juliet Film Review Essay

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Romeo And Juliet Film Review

Don't Hang Up Philosophy -Philosophy Can Make A Movie

Film: Romeo and Juliet
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio & Claire Danes
Plot: Two lovers of rival, disputing families take their lives.
Reviewer: Claire Ginn

Welcome to Verona Beach, a sexy, violent other-world, neither future nor past, ruled by
two rival families, the Montagues and the Capulets...

So begins Baz Luhrmann's production of Shakespeare's beloved play, "Romeo and Juliet,"
from the famous opening line of "Two Households both alike in dignity.." to the tragic
end, the viewer is whisked away into the ‘depths' of heightened realism in the world of
Verona Beach.

Casting includes Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo and Juliet as well as great
performances by John Leguizamo (Tybalt) and, Harold Perrineau (Mercutio). Danes brings
life to the character of Juliet and reaches far beyond the subservient stereotype of most
Elizabethan characters with her ambition and assertion, although she sometimes sounds like
a schoolgirl reading lines aloud for a teacher. DiCaprio is not quite as polished and in
some scenes you may find him off-hand and whiny, however he manages to capture the depth
and thoughtfulness associated with Romeo.

Updated to modern Verona Beach (rather than Verona, Italy), this film has all the pop and
zip one would expect from a tale of family feud, star-crossed lovers and bloodthirsty
vengeance. It includes a mix of classical and religious imagery. Wide sweeping shots of
the city show the destruction and expanse of the Capulet and Montague empires. Lots of
music, fast cuts, fantastic cinematography and superb sets and costumes make it the lively
tale it was meant to be. These features also make the film somewhat cartoon-like with a
lot of heightened realism. Don't expect to see British people prancing around in tights
when you rent this one. Luhrmann creates a world where gun-toting youths sport Hawaiian
shirts and beachfront brawls are an everyday event.

Purists may hesitate, but the film uses its modern setting to its full potential and
should be required viewing for any director who looks to put a modern spin on the
400-year- old play. Capulet and Montague become warring Mafia leaders, the Prince of
Verona is a police chief trying to overcome the violence, and television anchors represent
Shakespeare's traditional chorus. Other, more subtle narrative devices work equally as
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