Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan
If a Christian commits suicide, will they go to Heaven? Answer
|Featuring:||Hailee Steinfeld … Juliet
Douglas Booth … Romeo
Paul Giamatti … Friar Laurence
Stellan Skarsgård … Prince of Verona
Damian Lewis … Lord Capulet
Laura Morante … Lady Montague
Tomas Arana … Lord Montague
Kodi Smit-McPhee … Benvolio
Echo Lake Productions
“The most dangerous love story ever told”
No doubt everyone is familiar with the classic tale, as old as time, of Romeo and Juliet. For those unfamiliar, though, the story follows two families, the Montagues and the Capulets, by far the wealthiest families in the land of Verona. For quite some time, these families have been at war, and the animosity between both parties is very clear. Enter Romeo, a beloved Montague. While attending a party to proclaim his “love” to Rosaline (a Capulet) at a Capulet party, he is struck when he encounters Juliet (the daughter of Lord Capulet). I guess you can say that it becomes love at first sight, and the two pledge their love and secretly marry under Friar Laurence’s blessing, without either family knowing. It’s a tale of romance, hate, anger, and fate in a story of how love truly conquers all.
William Shakespeare is hailed as one of the greatest prolific writers in the history of literature (and of theater). His stories have inspired future writers for hundreds of years and continues to serve as required reading in schools, colleges, and non-academic settings. Many are familiar with his use of poetry and the vocabulary he chooses to dig into the hearts of his audience and invoke emotion. Because of these elements, he was and is still deemed one of the most iconic writers in the world.
One of his most well known, and might I say numerously adapted, tales is that of “Romeo and Juliet,” in both film and theater. Some adaptations have failed audiences, while others have been deemed appropriate and admirable.
This year’s adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, while very small in its theatrical release, in my eyes was a really well made adaptation. First and foremost, the performances are powerfully displayed by every character in this film, using Shakespeare’s poetry as a platform for their fine performances. The scenery really impressed me as well. Beautiful shots of ceiling paintings, statues, and architecture of the time are simply mind-blowing. The camera work is just right, and the music is also appropriate in this film. I was really impressed with the quality of this adaptation, but then again, I may stand alone.
Violence: Moderate and mainly limited to sword fights between Mercutio, Tybalt, Romeo and Paris (there are scenes where main characters are killed) and other Capulet and Montague members. There is one scene where Lord Capulet, in his anger, pushes Juliet onto her bed. Romeo uses a lethal poison to commit suicide.
Profanity: Profanity included God and Jesus’ name taken in vain (once each). Shakespeare’s poetry may very well have included other profanity (for it’s time) that I may have been unfamiliar with, so I apologize if I have not included it in this review.
Sex/Nudity: Romeo mentions Juliet’s breasts two times (poetically), and one character mentions using a woman for pleasure. Romeo and Juliet have several scenes of passionate kissing, and one scene of sexual intercourse (the camera fades before the act can take place. The most we are shown is Juliet undressing Romeo’s shirt, and then Romeo, half naked, undressing one part of Juliet’s clothing before the fade), however this scene takes place after they have married.
Other Content: Herbs are used to put Juliet into an unconscious sleep, as well as used when Romeo drinks a vial to commit suicide.
There are many themes that surround Romeo and Juliet. The main theme, though, is that of hate. Hate is an emotion, evolving from sin, that can consume us and lead to even more dangerous thoughts, actions, and emotions such as revenge. Some even go as far as to say that hate, when left unchecked, becomes a form of murder, as you wish the person did not exist at all. The Capulets and Montagues held onto hate for far too long, and it destroyed their families, while losing too many lives in the process. The beauty is that, in the end, they learn from this and make amends. As Christians, Jesus tells us to “love our enemies, as ourselves” regardless of their past or present actions and calls us to forgive, that if “we retain the sins of one, they are retained.” It’s a difficult task, no doubt, but it is one that must be upheld in order to take up the cross and follow Jesus.
I grew up, as many did, having to read “Romeo and Juliet” in high school. It’s a beloved classic and there are, no doubt, many adaptions of it. This recent adaptation, I felt, was well done, despite critics’ disapproval. Strong performances, beautiful scenery, and an excellent score make this film one that I can happily recommend to teens and adults.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Mild
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