Written February 02, 2015
If you’re looking to watch a completely accurate representation of Romeo and Juliet, I would not highly suggest seeing Carlo Carlei’s Romeo and Juliet. I would, however, say that for its intended audience, it does what it needs to do. It is designed to draw in a specific audience and share the story of the “two star-crossed lovers.”
In this day and age, we see Hollywood working persistently to align with the interests in pop culture. Hollywood has taken Shakespeare and turned it into something that our population can enjoy. Even our fascination with zombies is combining with Shakespeare in the recent film Warm Bodies. Jonathan Levine turns Romeo and Juliet into R and Julie, the Capulets become human beings, and the Montagues become zombies. He even teases us with a scene at Julie’s window, when R calls out to her to save her life. We have seen so many different possibilities that Hollywood has created in order to attract the popular audience.
Along with this strong intrigue for zombies, people are getting excited about BBC television shows and releases of The Hobbit. There is a fascination with these lush, almost gothic, representations of fairy tales, from Snow White to Cinderella. Carlo Carlei experiments with these interests in his adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. He essentially turns Romeo into a knight in shining armor by, first of all, mounting him on a horse, and then adding scenes to make the character seem more chivalrous. His addition of the intense scene between Juliet and Tybalt gives the audience more of a reason to see Tybalt as a villain. When Tybalt spitefully murders Mercutio in the film, the character waits for Romeo to fight him, whereas in previous adaptations, Romeo’s efforts were much more vengeful. Carlei even went as far as to turn Paris, a more minor character, into Romeo’s foe, egging Romeo on until noble Romeo has no choice but to defend his life and honor against Paris.
Carlei does the same thing with Mercutio’s character. He inserts a jousting competition in the beginning of the film in which Mercutio claims victory. He also changes Mercutio’s demeanor entirely, and he turns him into a rugged, witty man, as opposed to the quirky jokester we typically identify him as in previous adaptations. Even in Mercutio’s death scene, instead of the his humorous demeanor, or even angry demeanor, we see Carlei insert the drawn out death scene, where Mercutio is being held in someone’s arms about to die, there’s a close up of him sharing a long speech while uttering in pain, and then, finally, he passes.
Carlei seems to want to combine action-filled fantasy-like swordsmanship with the romance that attracts the young audience of today. He was very specific with Romeo and Juliet’s hands, and we constantly see close-ups of their fingers entwining. From the moment they encountered until their death scene, their hands were always made important, to symbolize the romance and intimacy between the two lovers. The movie almost seems geared towards the young woman, or teenage girl perhaps. In the scene where Romeo and Juliet are about to consummate their marriage, Romeo only removes an outer layer of clothing from Juliet, but then there is a close-up of Romeo’s torso as she removes his shirt. They wake up the next morning, and she still is fully clothed. It is clear that this scene was added with the sole purpose of pleasing the teenage female. He even romanticized the death scene by having Juliet awaken before Romeo dies from the poison. He elongated this death scene as well to add dramatic effect. Carlei added a nice touch by having Benvolio approach the bodies and joining their hands together (which, as you can tell, is another way the hands and romance were emphasized in this film).
Many liberties were taken so certain scenes or certain lines wouldn’t inconvenience the general story Carlei was attempting to portray. He gave lines to different characters and added completely different scenes, as previously noted. He turned Lord Capulet into a man involved in previous infidelities, and he made the deaths of both Romeo and Juliet, even Juliet’s fake death, much more meaningful to the families after the fact. Friar Lawrence played a greater role, both in uniting the houses of the Montagues and Capulets, and he even was there to nearly stop Juliet from ending her own life.
I feel this adaptation was made well for today’s audience. It kept the storyline intact while still making it interesting. Yes, there may have been some loopholes here or there that Carlei added, but I think it was well made and served its intended purpose.
Written October 14, 2013
I actually accidentally stumbled across this movie due to it was the only thing playing late at night. What I found was a masterpiece of a film and was greatly pleased.
I highly recommend this movie!
The actors, scenery and music was amazing!
Written October 17, 2013
even though we all know the story of Romeo and Juliet, this motion picture really captured it perfectly. the people chosen for the characters were perfect. the ending seriously grabs your emotions. displaying the best love story is hard but they def accomplished it!
Written October 18, 2013
I really thought this movie was goin to be more than it showed
Written October 12, 2013
Beautiful depiction of the tale. It was sweet and sincere and Douglas Booth is serious eye candy!