Film is a marriage between the written word and photography. However, cinematic pictures move, and such movement sets them apart from any other art form.
Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet” is a visual masterpiece; a marriage between rich poetic history and vibrant sensory overload. However, only the eyes of youth saw this, their elders stood outraged. Said circle of aging elitist’s felt Luhrmann’s contemporary interpretation was a bastardization of the master’s work. Yet, a few years later they praised “Shakespeare in Love” for doing the same. Crucified upon a neon cross Luhrmann blessed his young believers with passion.
Tattoos, custom weaponry, loud music, louder fashion, an ancient faith, a timeless love, and a new world. In short, Shakespeare never looked so good! The tragic story he penned was taken from an ancient tale. Drawing from Roman mythos he set his stage in fair Verona. There two families war, often and eternally. The son and heir of one such household is a forlorn and anxious youth, lost in the poetry of his own pain. The daughter and heir of the opposition is a passionate adolescent eager for honest love. At a party thrown in part to find her a worthy suitor she stumbles upon a choice all her own, Romeo.
On the cusp of meeting his Juliet, Romeo pauses to foretell his future peril. He will die, violently, but the soothing sounds of “Kissing You” distract the audience from this truth. The two star cross’d lovers are also beguiled and marry within hours of meeting each other. Yet, again at the holy altar they are warned, “these violent delights have violent ends, and in their triumph die like fire and powder, which as they kiss consume.” Light imagery stating that Juliet (the sun) and Romeo (the stars) will soon cease to sparkle. Instantly the truth of this is seen as corpses collect like flies on shit.
To highlight this fact the lighting of the film grows darker until at the apex all that is left is the glow of candles aside the suicidal pair. As fate would have it not even a marriage could end the war. Some may say the lifeless youngsters were Fortune’s fools, but the Prince objects before the curtains fall: “All are punished!” The living often are, but the lovers instead sleep smiling in each others arms. Yes, the film is tragic, but the message it bears is not. With a closing montage filled with bright memories we are reminded… love is life, and all that truly matters.
Beauty postulated in iambic pentameter, moving pictures made by a daring soul, and classic coverage provided by My Life at the Movies.