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First Time Viewers of Shakespeare - a Must
on 20 May 2011
I must disagree with previous posters saying the lead actors were equally awful - I think Danes was pretty good when on her own (although she pales in comparison to Olivia Hussey). DiCaprio was awful. When I first saw this, I had yet to see the 1960 version, and I thoroughly enjoyed this. As a fifteen year old girl, it was a good introduction to Shakespeare, and I found Dicaprio's performance pretty good. (Although looking back, I suspect his looks and popularity may have had a hand in the casting - it certainly had an effect on my fellow female classmates!) However, after watching the 1960 version, this one just - falls flat. The opening scene seems melodramatic - why say the prologue twice? And why to grainy images that flick forward so quickly we can't appreciate them? And why to echoing, OTT choir music? The love between Juliet and Romeo seems forced - although I think they were attempting for a more natural sounding dialogue it just didn't work. It was a good theory, and a good attempt - like I said, I think Danes does OK on her own, but DiCaprio just isn't convincing. Romeo is a tricky one to play - he is melodramatic, but has to then convince the audience his love for Juliet is real. But here, it just feels like more overdramatic gestures.
I think this is a good film for first time veiwers of Shakespeare - I myself first saw it in school and then bought it on DVD. The modernized settings bring something fresh and new to the play,and will help Shakespeare newbies around a bit if they get confused with the dialogue. However, if you enjoyed this, I fully recommend getting the Zefirelli version - the Romeo and Juliet there are a delight to watch, and the traditional version brings a timeless feel to it.