William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet

Baz Luhrmann, 1996.

Year Nine English. Romeo and Juliet. Imagine you’re fourteen, at an all-boy’s school (for the time being), and hormones are flying everywhichway, when along comes this play about love and all its heady adrenaline-thumping rushing glory. It’s got everything for nearly-fifteen year olds – swordfights, love and exile, (with only the slight hiccup of a death (or two or four) to dampen the mood). Enter, then, Baz Luhrmann’s hyperactive reimagining. In Luhrmann’s film, moreso than the play (at least on the page), you get sucked into its heady world, it catches you up in its frenetic exuberance and brashness, and disgorges you at the end, exhausted and exhilarated. For many years afterwards, I couldn’t listen to Radiohead without thinking of Leonardo DiCaprio’s Hawaiian shirt or Clare Danes’ angel wings. Despite all its detractors, it’s not a bad place to start watching Shakespeare on film, nor is a bad film by itself. If anything, it’s quite good, even if it is its own cliché (the play as much as the film). But I spose when you’re almost fifteen, you don’t really care.