Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 7.0922. Friday, 6 December 1996.
From: Steve Neville <
Date: Thursday, 5 Dec 1996 15:12:52 -0500
Subject: Romeo & Juliet
I thought SHAKSPERIAN'S might find the following, which was posted on H-Film,
interesting. The author was quite happy for me to pass it on :
" "Murray Pomerance" 4-DEC-1996
I saw ROMEO & JULIET this afternoon--a print that was pretty hacked up, with
many reels a good twenty units too yellow. It was a small theater--here in
Toronto we have some film theaters just a little larger than a typical middle
class living room. This one was full of kids from some high school, with a
teacher who kept roving up and down the aisle before the film started, checking
something off on a clipboard while the kids hooted and wheedled. They didn't
stop hooting or wheedling, either, except during the violent sequences, and
they thought Romeo's blowing away of Tybalt, "cool . . . neat . . .," which
ought to be some sort of clue. When Juliet cried out in the tomb they broke
into open-faced hysterical laughter (yes) and when she picked up Romeo's gun
they wondered aloud, quite a few of them, all--needless to say--boys, whether
she'd maybe shoot herself in the *breast* (emphasis theirs). Anyway . . .
The opening of this thing, struck from BRAZIL and LA DOLCE VITA and DOG DAY
AFTERNOON and who knows what other elemental forces---but struck quite
craftily---really carried me away. Then the thing started slipping at the
bizarrest frequency into moments of astonishing conventionality. For all its
simplicity, for example, the scene where Romeo meets Juliet was simply
captivating. And their wedding, with a boy soprano singing with a
choir--again. And the balcony scene--I don't think it would be giving away too
much to say that it is played in a swimming pool---really totally charming.
Yet every kiss was Rock Hudson and Jane -----not Fonda, what's her name, with
the black black hair and lying back in the hay?---Russell! Or for that matter,
Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore. Or anybody else you can think of who's done a
film with Kevin Bacon kissing somebody else who's also done a film with Kevin
But I have to say this for you cinephiles out there. There are two reasons to
fork out the $5.00CA for a matineee, or its equivalent anywhere in the world.
Well, three. (1) Claire Danes really is something, and she's let her hair grow.
And though he takes a little while to get comfy, Leonardo shows that there *is
indeed* something about him. So they're pretty and cute and adorable and all
that, even drinking colored liquids in darkly lit chambers. (2) The
film--speaking of darkly lit chambers--was shot by the incomparable Don
McAlpine. This is what we have been waiting for him to do since PREDATOR. But
I hope you all have better luck with your print than we did, up here in
bozoland where somebody ruined the 70mm. print of VERTIGO.
Then (3). Paul Sorvino is neat--somewhat Venezualan or Colombian. Very drunk.
But for those of you who have been lying patiently--oh, so patiently--in wait
lo these many decades to see this career slowly unfold, you go to this film to
see Brian Dennehy. And I mean SEE, because he has very very little to say, but
this is irrelevant. I have so rarely had the sense, in a single SHOT, of being
taken INTO the character's heart.
So there. Apparently a 70mm, 4-hour version of HAMLET is coming out next week,
starring Madonna as Ophelia, Roseanne as Gertrude, Macauley Culkin as Hamlet,
J. Fred Muggs as the Gravedigger, Hector Elizondo as Claudius, and David
Duchovny as Horatio. Laertes is Denzel Washington and the wise old councillor,
Polonius, is---who else? Joe Pesce. Oh yes, directed by Ronnie Howard, from a
script by Quentin Tarantino, produced by John Travolta. No, wait----It's John
Travolta as Hamlet . . . .