William Shakespeare's 'Romeo & Juliet' (1996)

Genres - Drama, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Drama, Tragedy  |   Release Date - Nov 1, 1996 (USA)  |   Run Time - 120 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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For the 1996 cinematic version of Romeo+Juliet, Strictly Ballroom (1992) director Baz Luhrmann opted to flamboyantly update Shakespeare for the MTV generation. From the moment the Capulets and Montagues are introduced via the evening news, and the rival gangs engage in a semi-automatic "sword" shoot-out, Luhrmann's restlessly post-modern interpretation of the teen romance to end all others never lets up. The vibrant colors and costumes, florid "Verona Beach" settings, souped-up pace, watery balcony interlude, and kinetic widescreen cinematography culminate in a neon-lit death scene that alone was worth the Oscar nomination for Best Art Direction. The diverse soundtrack, including 1990s alternative rock, dance music, and a choral cover by Prince matches the equally eclectic cast. Not all critics, though, were enthralled by Luhrmann's hyper-stylized vision, nor convinced that Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio's naturalistic style did justice to the Bard. Still, the couple's youth and chemistry added up to a convincing romance, helping to turn Romeo+Juliet into a box-office success, and leaving Berlin Film Festival prize-winner DiCaprio poised to become a teen dream in 1997's blockbuster Titanic.