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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: November ::
Re: Luhrman's R+J
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.2059  Tuesday, 23 November 1999.

[1]     From:   Troy Swartz <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Nov 1999 10:45:02 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.2050 He says 'sword',

[2]     From:   Alexander Houck <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Nov 1999 09:05:13 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.2050 He says 'sword',but holds a gun that only

[3]     From:   Jennifer Fritz <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Nov 1999 20:46:19 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.2050 He says 'sword',

[4]     From:   John Ciccarelli <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Nov 1999 23:54:21 -0500
        Subj:   re: He says 'sword' but holds a gun

[5]     From:   Jeff Taylor <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 23 Nov 1999 00:28:34 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.2050 The Bard with a Bazooka

[6]     From:   Lindley Arthur D L <
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        Date:   Tue, 23 Nov 1999 15:11:23 +0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.2050 He says 'sword', but holds a gun


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Troy Swartz <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Nov 1999 10:45:02 -0500
Subject: 10.2050 He says 'sword', but holds a gun that only
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.2050 He says 'sword', but holds a gun that only
says 'sword'

Oh my...If the Luhrman R&J was "hands down one of the worst films" you
ever saw, Stefan, then you must not get out very much.  God knows there
are troves of other bad films that come out every year.  The beauty of
the film was not DiCaprio as many pubescent and pre-pubescent girls may
think!  The beauty is the way in which the R&J story is brought to life
on screen.  I am 23 now, and when I was in high school I had to sit
through the Zeferelli (sp?) version of R&J.  I was bored outta my mind!
The only thing that caught my eye was the nudity.  Of course, a sword
fight here and there was interesting, too.  With Luhrman's production,
though, R&J is virtually kept the same textually (aside from the more
dramatic death scene), but updated in time and technology.  The
realities of love, hate, gangs, sexuality, etc.  all come to life making
Shakespeare more accessible to today's youth.  And yes, it was MTVesque,
but it doesn't change the factor of accessibility to youth.

Finally, Stefan, "He says 'sword', but holds a gun that only says
'sword'." You sound so disappointed here!  I was exhilarated!  I would
never have thought of the idea of making the term "sword" a brand name
for a gun!  I thought it was perhaps one of the more original qualities
of the film.  And it is believable.  How many people have you heard
refer to generic plastic wrap as "Saran Wrap," which is a brand name?
The brand name has become synonymous with the generic as well.  And the
same is true in this world created by Luhrman as the backdrop for R&J.

I do agree with you wholeheartedly about the Postlethwaite comment,
though. From an acting perspective, yes, Leonardo DiCaprio was terrible
(just as most of the other cast).

All in all, though, I thought it was an enjoyable film.  I would suggest
go seeing some other movies.  Because this was "hands down" not the
worst movie I ever saw.  Go see one of those horrendous remakes like
"Lost in Space." Now there is a truly bad film.

Tas

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Alexander Houck <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Nov 1999 09:05:13 -0800
Subject: 10.2050 He says 'sword',but holds a gun that only
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.2050 He says 'sword',but holds a gun that only

Stefan Kirby wrote:

> The only redeeming element
> was Pete Posthlewaite's (sp?) performance as the Friar, but then, I
> suppose he was the only cast member who actually understood what his
> lines meant.

From what I heard, DiCaprio walked on the set of R&J for rehearsals with
such a hold on the language that he intimidated most of the actors.
Perhaps it was in the same interview, but I remember growing a dislike
for Claire Danes when she admitted in an MTV interview that she almost
didn't do R&J because she did not like Shakespeare because it was too
hard.  This makes me wonder why or how she is at Yale.  Aside from that,
I found the performance by Chris Tucker as Mercutio as absolutely
fabulous.

This is just my opinion.

Alex Houck

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jennifer Fritz <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Nov 1999 20:46:19 -0400
Subject: 10.2050 He says 'sword',
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.2050 He says 'sword',

Wow, that's some strong stuff!  For myself, I really loved the diCaprio
R&J.  I thought it was pretty clever, and I think it really captures the
comedy of the early scenes and still manages to pull into high tragedy
by the end.  I loved Mercutio, and I thought diCaprio actually gave a
solid performance (Titanic notwithstanding, he's done some interesting
films-Total Eclipse, for example).  I thought the film retains the
spirit of R&J.  O, I also loved the smoldering introduction to Romeo,
with Radiohead playing in the background.  I could go on for ever here,
but I guess the point is that I think the film itself deserves a second
look.  I know a Renaissance prof who just loathed it the first time he
saw it, but a second viewing made him change his mind.  My only
complaint is that Juliet's long and beautiful soliloquy is reduced to
"Romeo, I drink to thee."

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Ciccarelli <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Nov 1999 23:54:21 -0500
Subject:        re: He says 'sword' but holds a gun

Stefan,

I could not agree more with your interpretation of Baz Lurhman's Romeo
and Juliet film.  I wanted to walk out after the first 15 minutes but
was forced to stay and give it another chance.  I agree that Pete
Posthelwaite's performance was the only thing worth seeing.  However,
John Leguiziamo's Tybalt was right on the money.  Although he was wasted
in that part and would have made a far better Romeo.  Without a doubt
the worst part of the film had to be DiCaprio.  I have played Romeo
twice and I cringed as he mangled the character and yelled whenever any
real emotion was needed. Romeo is not the deepest of characters but he
has his moments of dignity and this third rate actor never even came
close.  The best film to introduce a teenager to Shakespeare would be
Brannagh's Much Ado or the recent passable Mid Summer.  If they thirst
for R & J, either catch Zefferelli or watch Shakespeare in Love.

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jeff Taylor <
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Date:           Tuesday, 23 Nov 1999 00:28:34 -0600
Subject: 10.2050 The Bard with a Bazooka
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.2050 The Bard with a Bazooka

> UAARRGH! That DiCaprio R&J was hands down one of the worst films I
> have ever had the displeasure to sit through, Shakespeare or no. The only
> redeeming element was Pete Posthlewaite's (sp?) performance as the
> Friar, but then, I suppose he was the only cast member who actually
> understood what his lines meant.

I'm sorry, but I must disagree with this.  I admit that it took a few
viewings to fully appreciate this film, but I must say it has much to
bestow.  Perhaps the film's most important offering is Harold
Perrineau.  He is by far the finest and most effective Mercutio I have
ever seen.  The introduction of his homosexuality and love for Romeo
greatly intensified his death in my humble opinion.

Jeff Taylor

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lindley Arthur D L <
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Date:           Tue, 23 Nov 1999 15:11:23 +0800
Subject: 10.2050 He says 'sword', but holds a gun
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.2050 He says 'sword', but holds a gun

Like Stefan Kirby I'm no great fan of Luhrmann's R+J.  However, I have
had the experience of watching the film in a Singapore cinema full of
14- and 15-year olds, there presumably for the sake of Leo.  It
certainly captivated them.  At the climax half a dozen of them tried to
shout warnings to Romeo.  The film doesn't induce willing suspension of
disbelief in me, but it seems to do so for the Shakespeare-aversive
teen-ager under discussion.

Arthur Lindley
 

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