With over 400 years since Romeo and Juliet first graced the stage, you’d think a story would at least begin to fade from the minds. But let’s not forget that this is Shakespeare we’re talking about, and well, the man knew his romances.Though incredibly dated, the story of literature’s most passionate-and frankly most unbelievably suicidal lovers has never failed to inspire new versions.
In 1968, it was the authentic charm of Zeffirelli’s version that simply won the world over. Well, that and the introduction of Olivia Hussey which definitely struck a chord. Igniting body, heart and soul with its timeless poetic depth, the film stays true to the original play, and even captures that over-the-top/old-school kinda passion (you know you love with guilty pleasure). And though you can never quite get used to the sight of boys prancing around in tights, you can’t really hate on Leonard Whiting, whose hopeless intensity is actually kind of perfect for our love-struck Romeo.
Having said that, the ‘97 version wasn’t half bad itself, right? Breathing fresh new life into the classic, Baz Luhrmann -almost literally- blew our minds with his post-modern MTV style extravaganza -leaving us feeling a little light headed by the end of the film. With every frame bursting with wealth and eccentricity, it’s safe to say the film is a visually captivating masterpiece-which hardly gives you the chance to turn your head away for even a minute. If you’re not quite yet overwhelmed by the crazy visuals and contemporary soundtrack at this rate, its only a matter of time before you find yourself immersed into the dynamic performances of our young star-crossed lovers. You can’t really go wrong when casting DiCaprio as your lead anyway (still trying to think of at least one performance the guy hasn’t completely owned). But together with young Miss Danes, the pair naturally carry the Shakespearean tongue with believable charm and vulnerability. And even though we’re well aware of how it’s all gonna go down, we still can’t help but feel crushed as their innocent passions meet violent ends.
Ah the joys of experiencing a good Luhrmann film. Personally, I don’t really feel like a newer version could actually top this one-but guess it’s become some sort of unwritten rule that every generation is due for it’s own Romeo and Juliet comeback. Either way, there’s no denying the fact it still has a pretty big impact on our contemporary lives. Whether it’s the excitement of an impossible love, or possibly the conflicts of fate, the themes in this classic are certainly ones we can timelessly relate to.
So timeless in fact, that the story is not about to fade away anytime soon. Yes, Carlo Carlei’s recent 2013 adaptation only further emphasised the timeless essence of this classic romance. With Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth now taking their turns to revive our sensitive lovers, guess its time for a new generation to fall in love with the classic once more.