May 04, 2014

Stuff I Only Just Noticed in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet

Romeo and Juliet is the Greatest Love Story Ever Told. Baz Luhrmann’s rendition of Shakespeare’s famous play is also one of my favourites, ever. I was obsessed with the movie when I was around 14/15 years old and my teen diaries are covered with over-the-top drawings, pictures and quotes from the film – it’s clear that I had a massive crush on Leo Dicaprio (who didn’t) because for a teenager his good looks in Romeo & Juliet and then Titanic was simply too much for my heightened hormones to handle. Last night I went to BAFTA to the Edible Cinema night where R+J as screened. We had bite-size food along the way that made the experience a sensory one: for example during the drug scene we took a multi-vitamin tablet just as Leo did, or during the poision scene we downed a little bottle of Bombay Sapphire Gin. It was really fun. Although suspiciously on the menu there was “Ox Tongue” during the kissing scene. Funny, but ew. Here’s some bits I didn’t pick up on when I watched the film 10 years ago – but I did this time around: 

  • “We rang” post office letter: I never realised that when the priest sends a letter to Mantua, he uses a postal service that is so familiar to us all. This is one of THE major moments in the film, the fact that Romeo doesn’t receive the letter (telling him that Juliet is not really dead) is basically the reason he loses the plot and goes to get poison to kill himself etc etc. It is the dramatic irony that kills the audience every time we watch the movie. To have the priest write out a delivery “despatch” note and later the postman leaves one of those annoying red cards which says “Sorry we missed you” –  makes it all so much realer and almost sadder. And sort of funny.
  • All of the hilarious modern day “first names”: Obviously all of the first names in this version of the film are 100% not Shakespearian, which makes it a really funny adaptation, I never noticed any of them before, these are my favourites: “Dave” Paris and “Ted” Montague.
  • Paris on a parody TIME magazine: I never noticed before that Baz Lurhmann’s made up fantasy city-world features lots of things that are a sort of mock of every day life. Paris is on the cover of a magazine but I never realised that it was a sort of parody version of TIME.
Screen shot 2014-05-04 at 11.40.56
  • How little Leonardo Dicaprio is: When I watched it as a teen, I thought Leo was OLD but looking back he is really is super young, only 22 years old and very baby-faced. He also wasn’t very well-known at the time and rose to stardom a year later in Titanic. In this interview, he’s really chilled out and wants to ‘do good work’ when the interviewer asks him why he wants to do Titanic, he shrugs and says “it wouldn’t hurt”.
  • Missy’s brother from Bring It On is Balthasar: He’s so little! Although he sort of looks the same in Bring It On.
  •  The “Verona Beach, California” reference: I knew that it was a modern twist on Verona through out the film, but I only spotted the Verona Beach California number plate on the Montague cars this time round. Also I’d only heard of “Venice Beach” a few years ago so I guess I put two and two together. There’s also posters that are in the Coca Cola font and colours which you can sort of see on the left hand side below. I guess it’s mirroring a big city vibe. 



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