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William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet:

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WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE'S ROMEO + JULIET: SPECIAL EDITION

Rated: PG-13 / 12

The Movie

Verona: two families, the Montagues and the Capulets, at war. Two young kids from either side of the fence, Romeo (DiCaprio) and Juliet (Danes), fall in love.
It'll end in tears…

Opting for a contemporary urban setting to help convey Shakespeare's text, Luhrmann creates a celluloid art-form that oozes invention in every frame. Retaining the spirit and dialogue of the original, Romeo + Juliet is a sensory barrage, in which Lurhmann and his team are at the top of their game: design, photography and editing are every bit as important as the magnificent performances of the two leads. Classic scenes are augmented with modern technology (Luhrmann's use of the media is particularly effective), while sex, drugs and transvestites all play their part, and there are more fireworks than you'll see this side of Disneyland. 4 stars - Digital DynamiteShakespeare would never have approved.

The Extras

This is one Special Edition worth getting, vastly improving on Fox's original release. A new Commentary features Luhrmann, co-writer Craig Pearce, designer Catherine Martin and director of photography Don McAlpine, who chime in unison, "We're here to help you understand the movie!" And they do, as they deconstruct all the film's most indelible imagery: for example, the scene where Romeo and Juliet meet through the fishtank was based on an occasion when Luhrmann visited the bathroom in a Miami nightclub!

The Director's Gallery (six sections, with voice-over) features the media reaction (cleverly conveyed on a distant TV set, as in the movie), an interview with Luhrmann, plus three scenes (the Gas Station, Pool Scene, Tybalt's Execution) revealed in the stages of rehearsal, staging and shooting. Sadly they're not multi-angle, but the footage is superb - it's great fun to watch DiCaprio and Danes pretending to swim in the empty, uncompleted pool set!

The Cinematographer's Gallery (six sections, with narration) follows McAlpine's work: sawing up a set to get the best shot, lighting the fishtank scene and filming in the confined elevator.

Design Gallery features The Books (extraordinary Storyboards, made as photographic collages), plus sketches for the guns, cars, fashions and brandings used in the film. A Commentary is provided by Martin. An Interview Gallery contains (extremely brief) snippets with crew and the three main actors, Music Clips has promos for Kissing You and Young Hearts, while Marketing Romeo + Juliet contains the TV Spots, Trailer and Poster Campaigns for different territories.

A few Deleted Scenes, 4 stars - Damn Good Discand this would have earned top marks.

David Richardson

Baz Luhrmann's visionary adaptation of the Bard's star cross'd lovers

Credits
Romeo + Juliet on DVD: click here to order it from Blackstar

Cast Leonardo DiCaprio
Clare Danes
Director Baz Luhrmann (interview in this issue)
Year 1996
R1 Duration 120 mins
R2 Duration 115 mins
Screen Ratio 2.35:1
Anamorphic Yes
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
Chapters 29
R1 Languages English, French
R2 Language English
R1 Subtitles English, Spanish
R2 Subtitles Croatian, Czech, Danish, Finnish, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish, Turkish, Dutch
R1 Release Date March 12
R2 Release Date March 4
Distributor 20th Century Fox

 
 

Highlight

Chapter 8: Romeo and Juliet meet by the aquarium, accompanied by Des'ree's haunting Missing You.

 

Order this Romeo + Juliet DVD at Blackstar (Reg. 2)

Note: Romeo + Juliet is also available in a Region 2 three disc set with Moulin Rouge: Blackstar details here

Review © Visual Imagination Ltd 2002.
Not for reproduction

From Ultimate DVD #27
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