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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: November ::
Re: Romeo and Juliet ROCK
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 7.0836.  Friday, 15 November 1996.

(1)     From:   Virginia Burke <
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        Date:   Thursday, 14 Nov 1996 09:24:16 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0821 Re: Romeo and Juliet ROCK

(2)     From:   Bradley S. Berens <
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        Date:   Thursday, 14 Nov 1996 07:25:50 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0832  Re: Romeo and Juliet ROCK

(3)     From:   Melissa Campbell <
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        Date:   Thursday, 14 Nov 1996 10:14:04 -0700
        Subj:   R&J rocks

(4)     From:   Jean Peterson <
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        Date:   Thursday, 14 Nov 1996 13:52:55 +0200
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0832  Re: Romeo and Juliet ROCK

(5)     From:   Al Cacicedo <
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        Date:   Thursday, 14 Nov 1996 18:31:15 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   RE: SHK 7.0832  Re: Romeo and Juliet ROCK

(6)     From:   Joseph M Green <
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        Date:   Thursday, 14 Nov 1996 20:05:36 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0832  Re: Romeo and Juliet ROCK

(7)     From:   Sean K. Lawrence <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 13 Nov 1996 10:09:25 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0821  Re: Romeo and Juliet ROCK


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Virginia Burke <
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Date:           Thursday, 14 Nov 1996 09:24:16 EST
Subject: 7.0821 Re: Romeo and Juliet ROCK
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0821 Re: Romeo and Juliet ROCK

I thought that you all would maybe like to hear a teenager's point of view on
the new ROMEO AND JULIET.  Frankly, I am sick of hearing all of this about "MTV
views." This has nothing to do with MTV.  And second of all, my friend who had
just seen it the night before, suggested that we go see it.  So we all did, and
for the second time in less than 24 hours, he saw it again too.  We are talking
about a 18 year old here! And he wasn't all caught up on Claire Dains and us
females were not all caught up on Leonardo either!  What we were caught up on
was the story itself.  The lovestrucken couple.  We all can realate.  We all
laughed and we all cried and on the way home... There all of us teenagers
were.. Not taling about how the people were so hot and how we would like to get
into romeo's pants- but we talked about how it was just how the book was- in
our minds.  We also compared it to the classic ROMEO AND JULIET.  I own that
video and I must say it is a tie when it comes to the story.  I love both! I
must say though that the fast moving of the camera did make me a litlle dizzy
at times but hey- it isn't boring like a lot of the violent movies we could of
wasted our $5 on. On behalf of the teenagers i went with, we give it 20 thumbs
up!

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bradley S. Berens <
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Date:           Thursday, 14 Nov 1996 07:25:50 -0800
Subject: 7.0832  Re: Romeo and Juliet ROCK
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0832  Re: Romeo and Juliet ROCK

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Nick Jones asks

>1.  Before they die, Juliet wakes up. (Has anyone seen the scene played this
>way before?)

The scene has indeed been played this way many times: Thomas Otway (The History
And Fall Of Caius Marius, 1680), Theophilis Cibber (Romeo And Juliet, A
Tragedy, 1748), and David Garrick (Romeo and Juliet, 1748) all wrote similar
versions of the scene.  The Garrick version ("which was used as late as 1875...
and not discarded until Henry Irving's revival of the original in 1882"say
Pedicord and Bergman, the editors of Garrick's plays) is the best written of
the three.

Here it is:

ROM.  Arms take your last embrace; and lips do you
The doors of breath seal with a righteous kiss.
Soft! soft! She breathes and stirs!

                        Juliet wakes .

JUL.  Where am I? Defend me, powers!

ROM.  She speaks! She lives!  And we shall still be blessed!
My kind propitious stars o'erpay me now
For all my sorrows past.  Rise, rise my Juliet,
And from this cave of death, this house of horror,
Quick let me snatch thee to thy Romeo's arms,
There breathe a vital spirit in thy lips
And call thee back to life and love!

JUL.  Bless me! How cold it is! Who's there?

ROM.  Thy husband.
It is thy Romeo, love, raised from despair
To joys unutterable!   Quit, quit this place,
And let us fly together.

JUL.  Why do you force me so? I'll ne'er consent.
My strength may fail me, but my will's unmoved.
I'll not wed Paris: Romeo is my husband.

ROM.  Her senses are unsettled.  Restore 'em heaven!
Romeo is thy husband; I am that Romeo,
Nor all th'opposing powers of earth or man
Can break our bonds or tear thee from my heart.

[Juliet recovers herself, and the lovers are afforded a tender moment of
reunion before Romeo succumbs to the poison and dies a drawn-out, raving
death.]

ROM.  My powers are blasted,
Twixt death and love I'm torn, I am distracted!
But death's strongest-- and must I leave thee, Juliet?
O, cruel, cursed fate! in sight of heaven. . . .
Pull not our heart-strings thus; they crack, they break.
O!  Juliet!  Juliet!

I find this version of the scene to be weirdly Beckettian in a way: Romeo goes
to his death knowing precisely what a schmuck he's been, but there's nothing
for him to do about it.

When I saw the movie with my freshmen, they liked the change in ending.  I am
still on the fence.

                Best wishes to all,
                Brad Berens

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Melissa Campbell <
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Date:           Thursday, 14 Nov 1996 10:14:04 -0700
Subject:        R&J rocks

I would just like to make a comment.  With all the negativity floating around
about this new movie, is it really worth my money to go and see it?  I have
loved Romeo and Julliet for a long time.  I think that putting it into our time
is a brilliant idea and I wish some one would have done it sooner.

Thanks.
Melissa

(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jean Peterson <
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Date:           Thursday, 14 Nov 1996 13:52:55 +0200
Subject: 7.0832  Re: Romeo and Juliet ROCK
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0832  Re: Romeo and Juliet ROCK

Nick Jones writes:

>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.

To follow up, I thought the corruption of Friar Lawrence was one of the film's
most interesting twists.  The early morning drinking, the cross tattoo, the
facility with drugs--and was there a suggestion of an exploitative sexual
interest in those little altar boys in his charge?  And his intent in marrying
R&J was clearly self-aggrandizing, as visions of newpaper headlines dance in
his head--not to effect peace, but to seize his own 15 minutes of fame.  What
passes for religious sensibility in Verona Beach.  One critic called the
Friar's abandoning Juliet in the tomb in Zeffirelli's film a "particularly
craven" exit--how much more cowardly is the failure of this Friar even to show
up.

Like many, I found the rapid-fire jump cuts nearly too much at first (it seems
that the first 10-15 minutes either makes you or breaks you), but once I had
adjusted I was swept into an experience of almost hallucinatory intensity. I
have not seen many Shakespeare productions or films that have made me feel (in
Dickinson's phrase) that the top of my head had been taken off, but this sent
me out of the theater both deeply disturbed and strangely exhilarated. Oh, yes,
and the 250 teenagers in the audience seemed to like it too.

Jean Peterson
Bucknell University

(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Al Cacicedo <
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Date:           Thursday, 14 Nov 1996 18:31:15 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 7.0832  Re: Romeo and Juliet ROCK
Comment:        RE: SHK 7.0832  Re: Romeo and Juliet ROCK

I confess I haven't seen the film of *Romeo* yet.  However, I did read a review
this morning, published in our local newspaper's supplement directed at "the
young" in the community.  The review was written by a high school student. The
gist of the review was that it was a great movie except for the language, which
was hard to follow, she said, and sometimes seemed to be a foreign tongue.

(6)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joseph M Green <
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Date:           Thursday, 14 Nov 1996 20:05:36 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 7.0832  Re: Romeo and Juliet ROCK
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0832  Re: Romeo and Juliet ROCK

I'd like to read more from persons who liked the film.  I thought it cheap and
vulgar and still hope to understand how someone could think otherwise.  A
reason offered: "clever postmodern references that enhance the text."  I missed
all these and the only pomo references I detected were easy, a bit funny, not
too clever.  As far as I could tell they had nothing todo with the text.
Someone else wonders how the gun/sword thing could not be perceived as irony.
This must mean irony in the Pickwickian sense.  I would think that the "irony"
might be required to mean something.  What does it mean, what larger or just
ironical meaning is there?  None -- as far as I can tell.

Religious iconography is to the film what it is to Madonna: kitsch.  So, how do
the neon crosses and candles do anything to "romanticize" the death scene?
Romeo and Juliet die in Madonna's bedroom... this is supposed to enhance
anything?  In this setting R&J become those children with big eyes one used to
see in velvet "paintings" in various "trailer homes."  And, try as I might, I
couldn't see any despair in Romeo's eyes as he looked on the living Juliet. As
far as I could tell his expression was akin to one I saw on a young man who was
denied admittance into the Mall of America. The film, in fact, seems to turn
away from the horrors of death just as it turns away from the possible
transcendence of love. Ill take Juliet's description of the ancient receptacle
packed with bones and the body of bloody Tybalt festering over any banal shots
of guernies and ambulances and tv sets growing smaller: more or less the bric a
brac of the television imagination.  And I don't even own a tweed jacket!

(7)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean K. Lawrence <
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Date:           Wednesday, 13 Nov 1996 10:09:25 -0800
Subject: 7.0821  Re: Romeo and Juliet ROCK
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0821  Re: Romeo and Juliet ROCK

> The whole theme of profane (which the director
> partially got right) "love" vs. sacred  (which the chintzy iconography got
> absolutely wrong) love is debauched.  The sacramentality of sexuality that is
> from the grace-giving bounty as boundless as the sea and as constant as the
> sun's commitment to warm the summer rose's petals to blow is ruined by the
> cheap dropping-of-acid-before-the-masquerade that seems to induce the
> pool-flopping debalconized bubble-popping.  The shot of gin or whatever before
> "Friar Lawrence" says mass, the Mother Mary embossing the handle of a 9 mm.,
> the neon-blue light crosses are crass and stupid.

I think you've got that scene completely wrong.  Romeo meets Juliet after
dunking his head in water, and ending the effects of the drug trip, at least
insofar as they are expressed in his visage, or in the the cinematic effects.
As with Juliet's inability to hear her mother, while her head is underwater
(her first scene), immersion implies an escape from the falsehood of the world
which surrounds the two lovers, the drugs, Mrs. Capulet with her overwrought
makeup, and so forth.  They enter an alternative world, it seems.  This imagery
is also important for the pool scene, and it's worth noting that they meet when
both drawn to the gaze at the tropical fish.

All hell breaks loose, later in the movie (around act three, for those still
following the text) with the thunderstorm, where the water-world of R&J's
private, alternative reality and the dry-world of civic politics meet.  Tybalt
is shot into the fountain, during the rainstorm.

As for the religious iconography, I appreciate its vaguery.  The statues
represent both the authority which speaks against the feud, when contemplated
by Friar Lawrence, the power of the state, when the police helicopters seem to
immerge from them, the fate which is Romeo's "foe", and the peace of communion
between the lovers, within the Capulet monument topped by a crucifix.  Religion
never becomes, as in the hands of some crass materialists, a mere opium of the
masses.  Nor is the power of institutionalized religion simply forgotten, and
the movie become some sort of naive appropriation of divine authority to some
system of ethics, politics or theories of sex. The debate on the relation of
the worldly and the divine remains open in this rendering, as it did in the
England of a half-achieved Elizabethan compromise.

Enough of my rant.
Sean
 

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