There is, naturally, potential for modern adaptation for most classic works. I’m not saying that it cannot be done right. We have seen it done beautifully many-a-time. For instance the Coen Brother’s adaptation of the Odyssey could not have been better with their film, “O’ Brother Where Art Thou.” However, a strange disease has begin to run amok, and has been since the 90s, in which filmmakers feel it is appropriate to take a classical work such as Emma or The Illiad and strip them down of all their worth and turn them into something so disgusting that the story itself is no longer prevalent whatsoever.
What I mainly came here to talk about was one adaptation in particular. Yes, there have been plenty of terrible ones, but this one really takes it for all she’s worth. This inferior work I speak of is none other than Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet”.
Oh, where to begin. I suppose we’ll start with the first thing that I’m sure threw everyone off, the dialogue. Yes, I love that they decided to stick with the original dialogue and dialect. However, what the fuck are ten kids in the 90’s talking like that for?! That specific dialogue belongs to a very specific time period. You can’t just take it all and stick it in the mid-90s. I understand if you wanted to keep the beauty of the language but the point is to keep the beauty and the poignancy of the meaning of the dialogue. If you’re going to make it modern make it modern all the fucking way. That just speaks to the laziness of the writers. If you’re not even going to take the time to decipher the language and put it into a modern context than you’re a fucking fool who is wasting your own time as well as that of your audience’s. I hope you get hit by a bus for putting no effort into life.
I get it, “its like putting a new context to an old idea man.” We’re not trying to cater to the MTV generation with Abra in grills, okay? If you’re going to put this story into a new context you must be clever about it. YOU DON’T PUT ABRA IS GRILLS!!! Let’s just pause here for just a moment while we ponder on this one together. GRILLS! Did you fucking see that?! He was wearing grills!! Does that not disturb you?! Because it scared the fuck out of me.
And what the hell was John Leguizamo doing there? Him doing Shakespeare was like watching a old grizzled cat die on the side of the road. John Leguizamo, don’t you ever do that to me again, ever. Then again, I can’t really count on much from you except that cartoon misfit voice of yours.
This is not the same as Gangland. All of the pretty, violent, shoot-em-up scenes were worthlessly directed. And the dialogue did not help the already awkward acting, making it part Shakespearian, part western, part mid-90’s shit-fest (and I mean mostly mid-90s shit-fest).
I don’t put this blame on all of the actors of course. The director is where I put most of this blame; if you can’t pull an incredible performance out of a talented actor than you’re not worth anyone’s time. Because there were talented actors on this film, but their potential was not brought forth to the screen because the director was not there to guide them. This is why there was countless errors in continuity. Here is the full list: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117509/goofs
Also, it was not necessary for every actor to have his shirt unbuttoned. I mean, really? Was that necessary? I didn’t even get to see the one chest I craved! Paul Rudd’s. Let me just say, why Paul Rudd? Why? How could you disappoint me so by doing this.
Tell me it for the money, the hot sex, the underage girls! Tell me anything and I will understand, as long as you don’t tell me that Baz Luhrmann is a genius sent from Orson Welles’ right hand.
It was even a disappointment to see Radiohead on the soundtrack. But everyone makes mistakes; this is an official warning.
Making this kind of stuff as a joke is one thing, quite in the likes of Tromeo and Juliet. But its quite another when you’re this serious about making trash.
Join me next time for Part 2 in this series: “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”.