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Romeo + Juliet

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Baz Luhrmann
Produced by Baz Luhrmann
Gabriella Martinelli
Written by Play:
William Shakespeare
Screenplay:
Craig Pearce
Baz Luhrmann
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio
Claire Danes
John Leguizamo
Harold Perrineau
Pete Postlethwaite
Brian Dennehy
Christina Pickles
Paul Sorvino
Diane Venora
Paul Rudd
Vondie Curtis-Hall
Miriam Margolyes
Jamie Kennedy
Mario Cimarro
Music by Nellee Hooper
(Composer)
Craig Armstrong
(Composer
(Orchestrator)
(Conductor)
Marius De Vries
(Composer)
Cinematography Donald McAlpine
Editing by Jill Bilcock
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) November 1, 1996
Running time 120 minutes
Country United States
Australia
Language English
Budget $14.5 million (estimated)
Gross revenue $147,554,999

William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet is a 1996 American film adaptation of William Shakespeare's romantic tragedy of the same name. It was directed by Australian Baz Luhrmann and stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in the titular roles.

The film is an abridged modernization of Shakespeare's play, designed to appeal to a younger modern audience while retaining the original Shakespearean dialogue. The warring families (the Montagues and the Capulets) are represented as warring business empires and swords are replaced by guns.

Contents

Overview

The film takes place in the fictional city called "Verona Beach". A brief part of the film takes place in a location known as Mantua, which is depicted as a trailer park in a desert-like hinterland. Verona Beach is the center of a corporate war between two leaders of industry, "Montague" and "Capulet", rather than just a family feud. The film depicts the two families in an extremely modernized way compared to the original Shakespearean version.

In addition to the characters being updated from the original play, many of the props were replaced with analogous contemporary props. In place of swords, the characters use guns with fictional brand names like "Sword 9mm", "Dagger", or "Rapier", Lord Montague's "Longsword" is a South African MAG-7 shotgun. However, the director incorporated some of the symbols from the original Shakespearean work into the film. These include many references to Catholicism. For example, Juliet gives Romeo a necklace with a cross pendant in the balcony scene, and she is also found praying in her room for Romeo's safety.

Plot

In modern times, in the city of Verona Beach, the Capulets and the Montagues are two rival business powers. The animosity of the older generation - Fulgencio (Paul Sorvino) and Gloria Capulet (Diane Venora) and Ted (Brian Dennehy) and Caroline Montague (Christina Pickles) - is also felt by their younger relatives. While stopping for gas, the Montague boys - led by Benvolio (Dash Mihok), Romeo's cousin - come face to face with the Capulet boys - led by Tybalt (John Leguizamo), Juliet's cousin. The two gangs quickly strike up an argument, which escalades into a gun fight between Benvolio and Tybalt, who set fire to the petrol station and create chaos in the city. The Chief of Police, Captain Prince (Vondie Curtis-Hall), forces them to lay down their weapons. Captain Prince reprimands the boys, as well as Fulgencio and Ted, blaming them for three street brawls. He warns them that if such behaviour continues, their lives "shall pay the forfeit of peace."

Later on, Caroline expresses her worry over Romeo (Leonardo DiCaprio), who has been depressed. Benvolio agrees to talk to his cousin and determine is bothering him. Romeo admits he is in love, but that the object of his affection, Rosaline, does not love him. Meanwhile, Dave Paris (Paul Rudd), son of the Governor and nominated 'Bachelor of the Year', meets with Fulgencio. Paris has his heart set on marrying Fulgencio's beautiful daughter Juliet (Claire Danes), but the Capulet patriarch thinks she is too young. Nevertheless, he invites Paris to a fancy dress party he is hosting that night. At the Capulet mansion, as she prepares herself for the party, Gloria tries to convince Juliet to accept Paris' marriage proposal, citing his many attributes, but she is not swayed.

That night, at Sycamore Grove, the Montague boys and Romeo (dressed as a knight) meet up with their friend Mercutio (Harold Perrineau), who has gotten them each a ticket to the Capulet party. Mercutio tries to convince Romeo to cheer up and come to the party (which Rosalie will also be attending), but his love-sick friend declines. Romeo tries to tell him of a dream he has had, but Mercutio makes fun of him. Romeo, although he has a bad feeling about the night ahead, takes a pill Mercutio gives him, and they all proceed to the Capulet mansion. However, the effects of the drug and the wild party overwhelm Romeo, who goes into the restroom to wash his face. There, while admiring the fish tank, he spots Juliet on the other side, dressed as a angel.

Unfortunately, before they can speak, Juliet's nurse (Miriam Margolyes) whisks her off to dance with Paris. Romeo follows her and is spotted by Tybalt, who vows to kill him for invading his family's home, but Fulgencio stops him, afraid he will make a scene in front of his friends. Romeo and Juliet sneak into an elevator and kiss, but are spotted by Gloria when the doors open. Once again her nurse drags Juliet away, revealing Romeo’s identity as a Montague at the same time Romeo realises Juliet is a Capulet. A stunned Romeo is pulled out of the party by Mercutio while Juliet watches from a balcony and Tybalt reiterates his vow to kill Romeo.

Romeo quickly escapes his friends and sneaks back to the mansion, hiding under Juliet’s balcony. Juliet emerges into the yard, not knowing he is there, proclaims her love for him, for the only thing that prevents them from being together is their names, and there is no meaning in a name. Entranced, Romeo sneaks up behind her, causing them both to fall into the pool. Juliet is horrified that he has risked death to return, but Romeo tells her if she loves him, he doesn’t care if he is caught, and the two kiss. Knowing her nurse is looking for her, Juliet tells him that if he truly loves her and wants to marry her, he must send word by the following day, and she will be his forever.

The next day, Romeo goes to visit Father Lawrence (Pete Postlethwaite), and tells him he wants to marry Juliet. The priest is at first concerned that Romeo’s love for Juliet will die as quickly as his love for Rosaline did, but quickly realizes that the marriage of a Capulet and a Montague would end the rivalry that is destroying the city, and agrees to marry the pair. Romeo passes the word onto Juliet’s nurse, and the star cross’d lovers are married that very afternoon, with the nurse and Romeo’s friend Balthasar (Jesse Bradford) as witnesses.

At the beach, Tybalt is looking for Romeo, but stumbles across Mercutio and the Montagues. Tybalt insults Mercutio and the two are about to draw their weapons when Romeo arrives. He is loath to fight Tybalt, now the two are kin, and attempts to make peace, but Tybalt will not hear of it, and begins to beat him up. Mercutio interferes and is about to kill Tybalt when Romeo stops him. However, Tybalt jumps up and stabs Mercutio, killing him. A grief stricken Romeo chases after the fleeing Tybalt, causing him to flip his car. Alive, but injured, Tybalt drags himself out of the wreck. Romeo picks up Tybalt’s gun and shoots, killing him. Balthasar and Romeo quickly flee the scene as the police arrive.

Captain Prince learns what has happened from Benvolio, and banishes Romeo from the city on pain of death. Romeo, hiding with Father Lawrence, claims to rather want to die than be banished. At the Capulet mansion, Juliet prays, horrified by what her beloved Romeo has done. However, when a guilt ridden Romeo climbs through her balcony, she kisses him, and the two have sex. Meanwhile, Fulgencio decides that Juliet will marry Paris the next Thursday.

The next morning, Romeo awakens and prepares to leave, even as Juliet begs him to stay. He concedes, confessing he would rather be there than anywhere else. But at that moment, Juliet’s nurse interrupts, telling them Gloria is on her way. Romeo climbs out the window and promises Juliet that he will see her again. Juliet learns that she has been promised to Paris. When she refuses, her father loses her temper and begins to push her around, telling her that if she does not obey and marry Paris, she will be disowned and thrown onto the streets.

Under the guise of taking confession, Juliet goes to see Friar Lawrence. She implores him to help her, holding a gun to her own head and threatening to commit suicide. The priest proposes she fake her death, so she will put in the Capulet vault, to awaken 24 hours later. Meanwhile, Romeo will be told of the plot, sneak into the vault, and, once reunited; the two would travel to Mantua to start a new life. He then gives her the poison necessary to make her seem dead.

On Wednesday night, after saying goodbye to her mother, Juliet takes the poison and immediately collapses. As the priest predicted, she is found in the morning, declared dead, and placed in the Capulet vault. Balthasar is horrified when he finds out Juliet is dead, and goes immediately to tell Romeo, who had not been home when the messenger arrived with the letter telling him of the plan, and so had not received it.

Despite his banishment, a traumatised Romeo returns to Verona, where he buys himself the most deadly poison available. Meanwhile, Father Lawrence discovers that Romeo has no idea Juliet is still alive. Captain Prince chases after Romeo, who hides in the church where Juliet lies. Lying beside her lifeless body, Romeo proclaims his love and kisses her. But just as she awakens, he drinks the poison. The two kiss again before Romeo dies. Distraught, Juliet picks up Romeo's gun and shoots herself in the head. The two lovers are discovered, dead, in each other's arms.

Cast

Leonardo DiCaprio was Luhrmann's first choice to play Romeo, while the casting of Juliet was a lengthy process. Sarah Michelle Gellar was originally offered the role of Juliet, but had to turn it down due to scheduling conflicts. Natalie Portman eventually landed the role, even traveling to Sydney for rehearsals. After rehearsing a few scenes, the producers began to feel that she was too young for the role.[citation needed]

According to Portman, they felt that the footage looked like DiCaprio was "molesting" her.[1] Eventually, Luhrmann agreed that the age difference between the two actors was too great. Filming was halted to find another actress for the part. Jennifer Love Hewitt was almost cast, but lost the part to Claire Danes because Luhrmann felt that she was not "modern" enough for the part.[citation needed]

Reception

Financially, the film was very successful, grossing USD$147 million worldwide at the box office[2] on a USD$14.5 million budget. The film premiered November 1, 1996 in the United States and Canada in 1,276 theaters and grossed $11.1 million its opening weekend, ranking #1 at the box office. It went on to gross $46.3 million in the United States and Canada.[3]

Critics gave the film generally positive reviews. According to the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 74% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 38 reviews.[4] However, Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times disliked the film, giving it 2 stars and saying, "This production was a very bad idea ... I have never seen anything remotely approaching the mess that the new wangster version of Romeo & Juliet makes of Shakespeare's tragedy." Ebert wrote that Pete Postlethwaite and Miriam Margolyes were "the only actors in the film who seem completely at home" and said, "In one grand but doomed gesture, writer-director Baz Luhrmann has made a film that (a) will dismay any lover of Shakespeare, and (b) bore anyone lured into the theater by promise of gang wars, MTV-style."[5]

Leonardo DiCaprio won Favorite Actor and Claire Danes won Favorite Actress in a Romance at the 1997 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards.[6] At the 1997 MTV Movie Awards, Danes won Best Female Performance. DiCaprio was nominated for Best Male Performance, and DiCaprio and Danes were both nominated for Best Kiss and Best On-Screen Duo.[6] At the 51st BAFTA Film Awards, Baz Luhrmann won the award for Best Direction. Luhrmann and Craig Pearce won the award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Nellee Hooper won the award for Best Film Music. And Catherine Martin won the award for Best Production Design. The film was also nominated for Best Cinematography, Best Editing, and Best Sound.[6]

The film won several awards.[6] At the Berlin International Film Festival in 1997, Leonardo DiCaprio won the Silver Bear Award for Best Actor and director Baz Luhrmann won the Alfred Bauer Award. Luhrmann was also nominated for the Golden Bear Award for Best Picture.[6] At the 69th Academy Awards, Catherine Martin and Brigitte Broch were nominated for Best Art Direction/Set Decoration.[6]

Soundtrack

Romeo + Juliet
Soundtrack by various artists
Released Oct 29, 1996
Genre Soundtracks
Label Capitol
Producer Garbage, Nellee Hooper, Marius De Vries, Justin Warfield, Des'ree.
Professional reviews

Track listing

  1. "#1 Crush" - Garbage
  2. "Local God" - Everclear
  3. "Angel" - Gavin Friday
  4. "Pretty Piece of Flesh" - One Inch Punch
  5. "Kissing You (Love Theme From Romeo & Juliet)" - Des'ree
  6. "Whatever (I Had a Dream)" - Butthole Surfers
  7. "Lovefool" - The Cardigans
  8. "Young Hearts Run Free" - Kym Mazelle
  9. "Everybody's Free (To Feel Good)" - Quindon Tarver
  10. "To You I Bestow" - Mundy
  11. "Talk Show Host" - Radiohead
  12. "Little Star" - Stina Nordenstam
  13. "You and Me Song" - The Wannadies

A cover of Prince (musician)'s "When Doves Cry" by Quindon Tarver was also in the film, but was not included in the original release of the soundtrack. It was later added to a re-released edition.[citation needed]

Home media

  • VHS
  • DVD (1999)
  • DVD Special edition (2002), includes commentaries by director, producer, cinematographer; Behind the Scenes, interviews, music video
  • DVD The Music edition (2007), includes commentaries by director and film score composers plus five music featurettes

Further reading

References

External links


Simple English

Romeo + Juliet
Directed by Baz Luhrmann
Produced by Baz Luhrmann
Gabriella Martinelli
Written by William Shakespeare (Play)
Craig Pearce (Screenplay)
Baz Luhrmann (Screenplay)
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio
Claire Danes
John Leguizamo
Harold Perrineau
Pete Postlethwaite
Paul Sorvino
Brian Dennehy
Paul Rudd
Vondie Curtis-Hall
Miriam Margolyes
Jesse Bradford
Dash Mihok
Music by Nellee Hooper
(Composer)
Craig Armstrong
(Composer)
(Orchestrator)
(Conductor)
Marius De Vries
(Composer)
Cinematography Donald McAlpine
Editing by Jill Bilcock
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) November 1, 1996
Running time 120 mins.
Country
Language English
Budget $14,500,000 (estimated)
Allmovie profile
IMDb profile

William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet is an Academy Award nominated 1996 American movie adaptation of William Shakespeare's romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet. It was directed by Australian Baz Luhrmann and stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in the title roles.

The movie is a very exciting & modern version of Shakespeare's play designed to appeal to a younger modern audience. The fighting families (the Montagues and the Capulets) are represented as competing business empires, swords are replaced by guns etc. Despite the adaptation, the movie retains Shakespeare's original dialogue, though edited for modern cinema audiences.

Contents

Cast

  • Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague
  • Claire Danes as Juliet Capulet
  • John Leguizamo as Tybalt Capulet
  • Harold Perrineau as Mercutio
  • Brian Dennehy as Ted Montague
  • Dash Mihok as Benvolio Montague
  • Christina Pickles as Caroline Montague
  • Paul Sorvino as Fulgencio Capulet
  • Diane Venora as Gloria Capulet
  • Miriam Margolyes as Nurse Angelica
  • Paul Rudd as Dave Paris
  • Pete Postlethwaite as Friar Lawrence
  • Vondie Curtis-Hall as Captain Escalus Prince
  • Jesse Bradford as Balthasar
  • M. Emmet Walsh as Apothecary
  • Zak Orth as Gregory
  • Jamie Kennedy as Sampson

Response

Critics gave the movie good reviews. On the review given by Rotten Tomatoes, 74% of critics gave the movie positive reviews, based on 38 reviews.[1] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times disliked the movie, giving it 2 stars and said "This production was a very bad idea. I have never seen anything remotely approaching the mess that the new punk version of Romeo & Juliet makes of Shakespeare's tragedy." Ebert wrote that Pete Postlethwaite and Miriam Margolyes were "the only actors in the film who seem completely at home" and said "In one grand but doomed gesture, writer-director Baz Luhrmann has made a film that (a) will dismay any lover of Shakespeare, and (b) bore anyone lured into the theater by promise of gang wars, MTV-style."[2]

The movie won several awards.[3] At the Berlin International Film Festival in 1997, Leonardo DiCaprio won the Silver Bear Award for Best Actor and director Baz Luhrmann won the Alfred Bauer Award. Luhrmann was also nominated for the Golden Bear Award for Best Picture.[3]

References

  1. "William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/william_shakespeares_romeo_and_juliet/. Retrieved 2007-10-13. 
  2. Roger Ebert (1996-11-01). ":: rogerebert.com :: Reviews :: Romeo & Juliet". Chicago Sun-Times. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/click/movie-1073352/reviews.php?critic=columns&sortby=default&page=1&rid=57350. Retrieved 2007-10-14. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117509/awards Retrieved 2007-10-14

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