Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 7.0814. Monday, 11 November 1996.
From: Jimmy Jung <
Date: Monday, 11 Nov 1996 1:35pm
Subject: Romeo and Juliet ROCK
I think if you are really believe that Shakespeare has meaning in our time,
then you ought to go see this flick, then again waiting for the video might be
Since I already shared my pre-release enthusiasm with yall, I guess I also
ought to share the quieter aftermath.
Some of the reviews have compared the movie to "Die Hard" and trust me, the
first 20 minutes will spin your head in a confusing mishmash of gun play,
camera cuts, explosions, and dialogue. Familiarity with the text may even be a
disadvantage. I kept hearing lines that I knew, but they were buried under the
burst of 9mm weapon fire. But you gotta respect the attempt to make R&J a
"here and now" story, and this attempt does not dissuade me from my excitement
about trying to yank a "classic" story abruptly into the 1990's? How
successful was this version? Mediocre at best. Perhaps the most disconcerting
aspect for me was the contrast between the language and the scene. This
version keeps all the "thou's," "thy's" and "swords." Normally, I'm a purest
for the text; but when Tybalt points a gun the size of Dirty Harry's at you and
then says something about his sword, I get confused. I think just a little bit
of tailoring might have made a more comfortable fit into this MTV mold.
On the plus side, the leads were great. Everytime I see the play, I walk away
thinking Romeo's a dork. However, DiCaprio manages to pine for Rosalind, fall
in love at first sight, climb a wall, get married, kill a guy and himself, with
the clarity of passion that the part calls for. DiCaprio and Dane also do the
best job with the language. They have to say a lot of odd things for a movie
in the 90s and their delivery is the only part that seems to pull you into to
their love expressed as poetry. (Everyone else's seems to distract). Do they
annunciate correctly for a Shakespearean play? I haven't a clue.
When I saw the trailer, you see Romeo on his knees screaming "Juliet." and I
remember laughing and thinking "Brando yelling 'Stella,' or Stallone yelling
'Adrian'; yea, that's what Shakespeare had in mind." But hey, it works.
The Saturday crowd at 9PM was more youthful than I expected and as I was
walking out of the theater I did here one guy say, "any idea what we just saw?"
On the other hand I also saw a young lady say, "wow, that was beautiful." and
I suppose, more than anything, I want to know what the senior high crowd
thought, if you hear anything, let me know.