William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet
Okay I'm gonna nerd out for a bit here.
This week's edition of films friday stood as my all time favorite film for a good ten years... at least. In fact, it's probably still my favorite film because though I fall in love with new films all the time and count them as my favorites, this one has stood the true test of time.
My love began at a very early age. My mom used to watch and love Franco Zefferelli's 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet, and she passed that love onto me. I remember watching the film over and over again and I remember her telling me how she went to see it in the theaters several times because, at the time, she was living in Guam and the local theater only played one film for months on end. After falling in love with the film, I bought a copy of the play which continued to spark my love for Shakespeare.
Fast forward a few years later, and with my love for Angela Chase a.k.a. Claire Danes in tow, I fell hard and fast for Baz Luhrmann's version of Romeo & Juliet... my intense (and probably at times creepy) love for Leo DiCaprio began with it. When I say I was obsessed, I mean in every sense of the word. I had (and probably still somewhere have) binders filled with pages of magazines containing photos of Leo... and of Claire... and then of Kate Winslet when Titanic was in the works. I can't believe I'm admitting this, but hey, I was 11-14 years old. That should explain/excuse it... I hope.
I somehow convinced family and/or friends to take me to see R&J six, count them, SIX times in the theaters. I kid you not.
But the thing that kept me loving this film for years to come wasn't just my Leo fever, but my love for Shakespeare and for the modern re-telling. I honestly feel that if Shakespeare were alive at the time, he would have been 100% supportive of Baz Luhrmann's version. The thing about the Bard that is so amazing to me is that each and every one of his plays (at least the many that I have read) transcend time. Yes, I know the language is difficult to understand, but it can easily be translated. They can all be done and re-done in a new and fresh and modern way and the story will still be relevant. One of my favorite Shakespearean plays is Othello and that story? Well, it happens even today. I could go on and on about Othello, but that's for another time.
I love the fast-paced and fresh (for 1996) feel of this version for all of the above reasons. It just works and Shakespeare will continue to work in any kind of way imaginable. Heck, R&J could work even in an post-apocolyptic version.
Anyway, I just love this film. The 12 year old fangirl inside of me comes alive every singe time I watch, and quote it word for word.
Baz Luhrmann is another director that I love because of his stylistic vision and for the vast knowledge of pop culture that he incorporates it into his films. His "Bazmark" team of costume designers, set designers, art directors and cinematographers is pretty awesome and unique. I really admire his/their point of view.
Oh and I've gotta give a shout out to John Leguizamo for his stellar performance as Tybalt. Gah! So awesome. Oh and who else could make Paris funny but Paul Rudd? Jeez, this cast.
And the soundtrack?? Ugh, I lived for that soundtrack. How many of you remember that song by Garbage? I still get chills when I listen to it now. And Radiohead?? Any film that contains a song by Radiohead is immediately improved upon simply because of the soundtrack.
Okay I better stop nerding out or it's gonna get crazy.
(image sources: one & two)
p.s. enjoy the song!