Friday, October 12, 2007

movie adaptations

Just stumbled across Baz Luhrmann's 1996 adaptation of Romeo and Juliet on one of my absurd number of cable channels. I don't recall ever having watched it, and I am amazed at how surprisingly—even shockingly—good it is.

Luhrmann's setting of it in a post-apocalyptic Venice Beach works well, and his staging shows precursors of what he did with Moulin Rouge. The color palettes and cinematography take us fully into the world of the film. The acting is, well, excellent. Chris Rock as a cross-dressing Mercutio to John Leguizamo as a goombah Tybalt—it all works. DiCaprio screams a bit much, but otherwise is excellent. And Claire Danes is a delight.

What I also appreciate about the acting and the staging is the way Shakespeare's iambic pentameter is maintained without being played off as some absurdly affected speechifying. The language gets to do its job without being the spotlight, and in the end, the beauty of the writing shines through again.