Romeo + Juliet (1996)

The next adaptation of Romeo and Juliet that I will be discussing is the 1996 version from Australian filmmaker, Baz Luhrmann, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo and Claire Danes as Juliet, and John Leguizamo as Tybalt. Now John Leguizamo gives Tyblat not only justice but a great quality to the character that you don’t find anywhere else.

This adaptation of Romeo and Juliet is not only modern but it’s edgy as well. In the beginning, we get the prologue as a newscast then we are thrown so many images that set our scene of the Montagues and the Capulets. Furthermore, we get a western meets mafia picture. If you have ever seen a Baz Luhrmann film such as Moulin Rouge or his version of the Great Gatsby you know that he has a tendency to be somewhat outrageous with some of the technical effects and this version of Romeo and Juliet is no exception. Also instead of swords, we have guns, and instead of being set in Verona we are placed on Verona Beach.

While I state that this is the most outrageous version of Romeo and Juliet, I will give this for this version in that it was made at the right time with the right cast. Leonardo was cast in this role just as film career was taking off since this was before Titanic or The Man in the Iron Mask. He really showed that he could Shakespeare and while he had not done Shakespeare since which I would say it is a pity for if he was to do another Shakespeare adaptation then it could really show his breath as an actor. Granted, I know he did other dramatic roles but Romeo and Juliet were one of the first films that really put him on the map as a movie star.

Clarie Danes, on the other hand, had done numerous dramatic roles in the past, I just felt while watching her performance that this was just another role to add to her massive collection of roles. I loved Clarie Danes in Little Women and My So-Called Life but for me, she doesn’t speak that she should be Juliet although, she managed to pull the part off it just wasn’t to the same caliber as Leonardo.

This is adaptation is ranked as number 2 for me on the best adaptations of Romeo and Juliet. Tomorrow, I will talk about Disney’s version of Romeo and Juliet (yes, they did a version and it might surprise as to which film is considered as Romeo and Juliet).

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