It was on TV the other night

An argument I should’ve had 10+ years ago, but I’m having it now.

There’s something about Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet that rubs me the funny way. Here’s what I liked from it: Clare Danes (and every face expression she makes, Mercutio, Tybalt, the nurse and… that’s it. I will always have a fascination with Capulets in general, in whichever version. But

Sometimes when a classical piece is interpreted a certain new, i’m-gonna-say “Far out” way, I develop weirded-out goosebumps. I’m not frightened by change and new things – that’s not it. I just didn’t find it modern. Was it trying to be modern or was it just trying to be another kooky reality? Felt the same way when I watched Ethan Hawke as Hamlet sitting at a laundromat. Is this cool? Or is this Weeeeeird? I DON’T KNOW!

How I relate to this play:
I always felt Juliet was better off with Mercutio
I always liked Tybalt (too much)
I had difficulty seeing Romeo as a love interest
I always loved Mercutio (And kind of wanted to be him.)

Is it COOL? or is it weird? Do so many girls claim to love this version because they love Shakespeare or the “Leo thing?” Would the movie still be so well-liked if Montague and Capulet were played by Carl Winslow and Patrick Duffy? (actually maybe) But Shakespeare is dark and cold and goosebumpy and funny, so maybe this was trying to be THAT in its own way. Or another instance of me afraid to like something so many other people like. OR me being afraid to say I DON’T like something. Some parts I fall head over heels for and other parts I just roll my eyes. I had an English teacher who passionately banged the top of her desk saying, “The guy was a GENIUS.” and I believed her (cause he is/was.) Plus she slammed the table when she said it which I will always love and will remember. And not “he was a genius” in the way that artists describe their idles. “OMG so-and-so is a genius.” <- your artist isn’t a GENIUS. Your artist is GOOD. He’s just very crazy and awesome, but he’s not a genius. Shakespeare, though? IS a genius. (slam!) He knew exactly what he was doing. And dirty – he was so dirty! When I think of Shakespeare I think of all kinds of dirt under fingernails and greasy hair and a bunch of “I don’t have time for you right now, woman. Fetch me a quill.” I think of not-always-great-writing that turns into Great writing. (Can’t explain that.) And there were other writers back then just as good as him, but he kind of…won.

If he were around to see all these adaptations, he might react in these five possible ways:
– Gee, guys I had no idea you liked me this much
-Damn RIGHT you’re still doing my stuff. YOU heard her English teacher – I’m a genius!
-This is weirding me out, guys.
-Ooooh I LIKE her… (a la Steve Buscemi/Wedding Singer in regards to Clare Danes.)
-Who’s that dynamic boy with the smokey voice (I get the sense he can do a lot of different voices) who seems overdramatic but probably only because the part of Tybalt calls for it? I feel like I could watch him for HOURS and hours doing some solo performance piece in some black box theater downtown. (Me too, Shakespeare. His name is John and he’s a Leguizamo. And he’s my genius.)


2 Responses to “It was on TV the other night”

  1. Two things I like about it:

    –I love Baz Luhrmann and his style and any movie he makes and whatever category he’s in although I don’t know what to call it (like post-post-modernism or something similarly ehh).

    –I know Shakespeare’s plays were pop culture when they came out, and now people think of them as intellectual stuff for nerds, and I think it’s kinda cool that Luhrmann made a Shakespeare play feel like contemporary pop culture without changing the words or anything, or doing something analogous like how Ten Things I Hate About You is Taming Of The Shrew for the modern-day tween. He just took the Shakespeare play as is and BazLuhrmanned it into something normal people who won’t read a Shakespeare play can get behind.

  2. Baz just got me.

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