Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
SEARCH RESULTS FOR
Click here for a Sydney Film Festival sneak peek with Festival Director Nashen Moodley!x

ROMEO + JULIET

20 YEARS ON

RETROSPECTIVE REVIEW
LATEST REVIEWS
By Kate Smith
30th October 2016

High school English students will either rue or worship this date. 20 years ago today, Baz Luhrmann's 'Romeo + Juliet' was unleashed on the world. Both critically acclaimed and derided, it skyrocketed the careers of its two leads, and put Luhrmann well and truly on the international map.

Before 1996, Leonardo DiCaprio was known almost exclusively for playing the title character's mentally-challenged brother in 'What's Eating Gilbert Grape'. Following the release of 'R+J', DiCaprio was cast in 'Titanic', 'The Beach,' 'The Aviator'... you get the drift. By 1996 Claire Danes already had a developing career, but her role as Juliet was her major breakthrough. While she hasn't enjoyed the meteoric rise of DiCaprio, she's still a household name and might not have been had she never played Juliet.

WATCH: 'ROMEO + JULIET'
WATCH HUNDREDS OF UNIQUE FILMS
SWITCH
WATCH

But the real star of 'Romeo + Juliet' was Luhrmann. In 1992, Luhrmann wrote and directed 'Strictly Ballroom' which is still one of the best Australian films ever made. 'Strictly Ballroom' is the earliest entry on Luhrmann's résumé. A critical darling, it got Baz noticed enough to start on his Shakespeare adaptation that English students love/hate. After 'R+J', Luhrmann directed 'Moulin Rouge' and 'Australia' with Nicole Kidman, and in 2013, reunited with DiCaprio to direct another adaptation: 'The Great Gatsby'. Every one of these films drip with Luhrmann's distinctively lavish and bombastic style. It's a style DiCaprio is particularly suited to.

'Romeo + Juliet' redefined the Shakespearean adaptation. Transplanting the story into a modern world had been done before, and there are dozens of traditional versions. Luhrmann combined both in a way that made it both accessible and still faithful. Keeping the original dialogue and interactions, while also translating the material into something modern teenagers can understand, Luhrmann managed make Shakespeare cool again.

What Luhrmann did was something that combined both in a way that made it both accessible and still faithful.

You could certainly argue that Luhrmann's work inspired 1999's '10 Things I Hate About You' (The Taming of the Shrew), 2006's 'She's the Man' (Twelfth Night') and even Joss Whedon's 'Much Ado About Nothing' among others.

Set amongst the backdrop of gang warfare, 'Romeo + Juliet' goes a long way to explaining the concepts behind Shakespeare's play that were difficult to grasp for younger, sheltered readers. This is one reason why it became an English teacher's dream. There's so much in this film that enhances not only an understanding of classical works, but of modern language - Shakespeare penned dozens of phrases we still use today, and hearing them spoken in a context such as this is one of the best educational tools you could find. I wonder how many thank you cards Luhrmann still gets from grateful teachers?

Luhrmann's adaptation entered the pop-culture lexicon and endures there still. Three big players in the film industry owe their success to the quality of this film. In celebration, why not dig out your copy? Just steel yourself for classroom flashbacks.

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: 01/11/1996
RUN TIME: 2h 0m
CAST: Leonardo Dicaprio
Claire Danes
John Leguizamo
Dash Mihok
Harold Perrineau
Pete Postlethwaite
Paul Sorvino
Brian Dennehy
Diane Venora
Jamie Kennedy
DIRECTOR: Baz Luhrmann
PRODUCERS: Jill Bilcock
Baz Luhrmann
Gabriella Martinelli
Catherine Martin
Martin Brown
SCORE: Nellee Hooper
TOP-RATED REVIEWS
Cranston Academy: Monster Zone - A fun-filled animated adventure for the whole family
TRENDINGWIN CRANSTON ACADEMY: MONSTER ZONEA fun-filled animated adventure for the whole family
Buckley's Chance - Take a chance on this Aussie fish-out-of-water story
TRENDINGWIN BUCKLEY'S CHANCETake a chance on this Aussie fish-out-of-water story
From the Vine - Finding your roots in your family
TRENDINGWIN FROM THE VINEFinding your roots in your family
Pocahontas - 25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
TRENDINGPOCAHONTAS25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
The Violin Player - Sex and strings
TRENDINGTHE VIOLIN PLAYERSex and strings
Cosmic Sin - A film that delivers on the promise of its title
TRENDINGCOSMIC SINA film that delivers on the promise of its title
Green Lantern: 10th Anniversary - Failed Superheroes who got a second shot
TRENDINGGREEN LANTERN: 10TH ANNIVERSARYFailed Superheroes who got a second shot
King Otto - The world plans, and the Greek gods laugh
TRENDINGKING OTTOThe world plans, and the Greek gods laugh
Wet Woman in the Wind - A sexy struggle for conquest
TRENDINGWET WOMAN IN THE WINDA sexy struggle for conquest
25 Free-to-Watch Short Horror Films - The scariest shorts we uncovered online
TRENDING25 FREE-TO-WATCH SHORT HORROR FILMSThe scariest shorts we uncovered online
Monty Python's Flying Circus: The Complete Series - Sketches at a revolution
TRENDINGMONTY PYTHON'S FLYING CIRCUS: THE COMPLETE SERIESSketches at a revolution
Amazing Grace - An extraordinary document on the power of music
TRENDINGAMAZING GRACEAn extraordinary document on the power of music
River's Edge - The kids aren't alright
TRENDINGRIVER'S EDGEThe kids aren't alright
Breaking Bread - Why not <i>not</i> eat pigs together
TRENDINGBREAKING BREADWhy not not eat pigs together
In The Heights - A dazzling screen adaptation of the modern musical classic
TRENDINGIN THE HEIGHTSA dazzling screen adaptation of the modern musical classic
Atlantis: The Lost Empire - The lost Disney franchise 20 years on
TRENDINGATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIREThe lost Disney franchise 20 years on
The Trouble with Being Born - Controversial, unsettling and intelligent science-fiction
TRENDINGTHE TROUBLE WITH BEING BORNControversial, unsettling and intelligent science-fiction
David Byrne's American Utopia - One of the greatest concert films ever made
TRENDINGDAVID BYRNE'S AMERICAN UTOPIAOne of the greatest concert films ever made
Inseparable Bros - A heartwarming tale about disability and the power of friendship
TRENDINGINSEPARABLE BROSA heartwarming tale about disability and the power of friendship
The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale - An extremely silly zomedy
TRENDINGTHE ODD FAMILY: ZOMBIE ON SALEAn extremely silly zomedy
© 2011 - 2021 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us!