Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: November ::
Re: Romeo and Juliet ROCK
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 7.0832.  Thursday, 14 November 1996.

(1)     From:   Nicholas Jones <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 13 Nov 1996 09:41:34 -0400
        Subj:   Romeo and Juliet

(2)     From:   Michael Saenger <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 13 Nov 1996 13:40:33 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Romeo and Juliet ROCK

(3)     From:   Richard Regan <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 14 Nov 1996 00:38:36 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0821 Re: Romeo and Juliet ROCK

(4)     From:   Suzanne Lewis <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 14 Nov 1996 06:30:15 -0700
        Subj:   New R&J Movie


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Nicholas Jones <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 13 Nov 1996 09:41:34 -0400
Subject:        Romeo and Juliet

John Dwyer wrote: "Our senior high students need a reading totally committed to
sexual sanctity.  An iconography of semi-translucent, interiorly-lit statues
debases sex and religion and justifies the suicides."

I agree that one criterion by which I'd like to evaluate this film -- which
IMHO was both vulgar and fascinating -- is its effect on the audience to which
it's clearly targeted.  By the way, I'd guess that audience is rather
middle-school than high-school students.

It didn't take the Kurt Cobain suicide and its spin-offs to tell us about the
effect of romanticizing the combination of sex, free will, drugs, and death
that can, and does, lead US young people to end it all. R & J is a powerful
text of danger if we let it be.

BUT...I thought this film was AWARE of that danger and acted on it.  The
picture of R & J's death is of course super-romanticized:  candles, Tristan and
Isolde, the high crane shot monumentalizing the bodies... a wonderful rich
isolation from the corrupt "so-called life" outside.   But that's not the whole
picture.

1.  Before they die, Juliet wakes up. (Has anyone seen the scene played this
way before?)  Romeo has to watch her wake as he dies:  his whole scheme -- his
suicide -- is rendered meaningless.  No line, just his eyes in despair.  It was
very hard for me to imagine that we'd see the suicides romantically after that.

2.  After they die, after the crane shot ascends to the heights, the film cuts
to shots in documentary style of the bodies on gurneys, loaded into the
coroner's van.  And then the grainy TV shot -- their 20 seconds of fame -- ends
with static and white noise.  It's a quick and vivid descent from operatic lush
death to techno-oblivion -- a consummation that I think is NOT to be wished by
most of our teens.

I'm not sure about "sanctity," but I'm sure the film does not intend its
audience to identify sanctity with the icons that ostensibly represent it in
Verona Beach, the statues, the candles, the friar.  I think it lies somewhere,
as it did for Shax, in the choices of its characters and their effects on us.

Nick Jones
Oberlin College

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Saenger <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 13 Nov 1996 13:40:33 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Romeo and Juliet ROCK

For those who have trouble seeing a gun and hearing it called a sword, I am
sorry you miss so much of Shakespeare.  Pyramus and Thisbe must be very
frightening to these people, if they cannot perceive irony.

I would find it very sad if the Shakespearean community always put itself on
the conservative side of art.  This is a wonderful movie, filled with clever
post-modern references which enhance the text.  And the acting was better than
many productions I've seen in RSC accents. Shakespeare tapped into all elements
of his own culture to produce his art, so why shouldn't we try to do so in
reproducing it?  Romeo and Juliet will not only survive this adaptation, it
will thrive as a result of it.  However, this production may pose a grave
danger to our snobbery.

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Regan <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 14 Nov 1996 00:38:36 -0500
Subject: 7.0821 Re: Romeo and Juliet ROCK
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0821 Re: Romeo and Juliet ROCK

Although the film has its obvious excesses, it does give us a clear emotional
line which many productions lack.  The play often founders after intermission,
and fails to convert the comedy, the giddy violence, and the initial emotional
charge into a heartfelt experience of the finale.  My students have only
laughed in recent years at the end of the Zeffirelli film with its gauzy
romanticism.

When I saw the new film, the silence during the tomb scene was electric, giving
me hope that future classroom experience of this production will bring a
generation back to the play.  Of course, it's easier to do the last scene
without the Friar's appearance, but that's a different question.

Richard Regan
Fairfield University

(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Suzanne Lewis <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 14 Nov 1996 06:30:15 -0700
Subject:        New R&J Movie

Greetings and salutations!

My husband (also an intellectual) and I just returned from the new Romeo &
Juliet movie.  We thought it was very well done and succeeded in reaching its
targeted audience.  The average person in the theatre was a 15 year old girl
who left the theatre sniffling.  While at times, I thought the spectacle was a
bit overdone, I think the hype, spectacle, and modern setting really reached
the young people.

To quote my husband, we "hope the Academics can remove their tweed long enough
to realize how great this film is."  As a high school English teacher, I see
this film as a tribute to the universality of Shakespeare's word.  Long live
the Bard and his "star-cross'd lovers."
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.