Tuesday, October 19

From Gnomeo and Juliet to Baz Luhrmann: 10 of the best Romeo and Juliet | Culture

Romeo + Juliet by William Shakespeare (1996)
Amazon Prime Video

Sunshine, Guns Out: Baz Luhrmann captures the heartbreaking and gripping heat of Shakespeare’s summer tragedy. We are on the beach in Verona (or is it Venice?), Where the promenade throbs and the shirts are noisy or absent. Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes are the young dreamers of love and, in a showdown of brilliant supporting performances, Pete Postlethwaite is a friar with a huge tattoo on his back.

Romeo and Juliet (2012)
Balloon player

Want to see hapless lovers at the “Wooden O” on London’s South Bank? Shakespeare’s Globe has filmed several versions, including the Brazilian company The noisy visit of the Galpão Group for the Globe to Globe festival in 2012. He has irresistible circus skills and has a role on stage for the Bardo.

Romeo and Juliet (1966)
All three available on DVD

Kenneth MacMillan’s Royal Ballet production, set to the intoxicating music of Prokofiev, has been elegantly filmed with Carlos Acosta and Tamara Rojo (in 2007) and Federico Bonelli and Lauren Cuthbertson (2012). But you can still see the legends who first danced to it in 1965: the performances of Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev were captured the following year.

What we call a ... mushroom?  Gnomeo and Juliet.

What we call a … mushroom? Gnomeo and Juliet. Photograph: Allstar / Disney / Sportsphoto

Gnomeo and Juliet (2011)
Amazon Prime Video (£)

Halfway through the prologue, this animation breaks the script to tell the story of two homes with garden gnomes at war. The battle lines are drawn between row houses in Stratford; the weapons are paddles and high pressure hoses. The nurse is an ornamental frog and Gnomeo and Juliet are daredevils who compete with lawnmowers.

Romeo and Juliet (2018)
BBC iPlayer

Love blooms while hate rages Erica Whyman’s 2018 Stratford Production, with Tom Piper’s rotating cage cube on stage. The party is a dance of headbangers, furious fights and physical performances – you feel the frustration of Bally Gill and Karen Fishwick in their forbidden romance.

Romeo and Juliet (1968)
Amazon Prime Video (£)

When Franco Zeffirelli made Romeo and Juliet at the Old Vic in 1960, it had young stars (Judi Dench and John Stride), a lively Italian vibe, and vibrant emotion. The same goes for his 1968 hit movie, which brought together teenagers Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting, a younger couple than in previous screen versions.

Romeo and Juliet (1954)
BFI Player

“Is she a … Capulet?” Watch Laurence Harvey’s rosy-cheeked, brown-curled Romeo’s heart break at the masked ball in Renato Castellani’s courteous Technicolor film 1954. He’s the kind of Shakespeare where everyone wears pastel tights and the chorus is John Gielgud in a ruff. But try to keep your eyes dry when Juliet from Susan Shentall wakes up.

The jets will have you ... West Side Story.

The jets will have you … West Side Story. Photography: Allstar / United Artists

West Side Story (1961)
YouTube (£)

If Shakespeare was a genius at couplet rhyme, so is Stephen Sondheim – just listen to the jaw-dropping lyrics of 10 Oscar-winning West Side Story star America. Jerome Robbins choreographs ballet battles between the Jets and the Sharks, slang bands whose mindless feud unfolds on the streets of New York as hapless lovers share dates on a fire escape.

Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words (2019)
Available on DVD

BalletBoyz’s Michael Nunn and William Trevitt brought Kenneth MacMillan’s ballet to town in a glorious outdoor version filmed in Hungary. Bright and energetic, he rushes to his end and is luxuriously presented in sumptuous costumes. Francesca Hayward shoots in her film debut alongside William Bracewell.

Romeo + Juliet by Matthew Bourne (2019)

“Fair Verona” is a white tile institution in The blow to Bourne’s stomach from a tragedy, filmed at Sadler’s Wells. Paris Fitzpatrick’s preppy Romeo is freshly admitted and stripped of his underwear before finding himself cute with Juliet (Cordelia Braithwaite). He’s chilling, often cheeky, and truly charming.


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