‘Romeo and Juliet’ Is Still Hip and Dangerous

Romeo-JulietIf you were young during the 90’s, chances are you were either obsessed with Leonardo DiCaprio or you were male. And maybe both, I don’t know. This came mostly from Titanic, but before Leo sank down into the depths of the Atlantic, he played Romeo in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. Which was a version of Shakespeare for the blaring, spectacular-obsessed MTV generation.

And although this new, young version of Romeo and Juliet was released just 18 years ago, it seems that it is time for a newer and younger version of the story.

I’ll add to all of this that I’m a pseudo expert on Shakespeare in Film if only because I was an English/Film major in college and took a class called “Shakespeare in Film” last fall (my brother used to say that all my college courses sounds like summer camp activities). And in this class, I watched–count them–four versions of Romeo and Juliet, including Gnomeo and Juliet. Yeah. It happened.

And after that class, as much as I like Leo, nothing can beat the 1968 Zeffirelli version, in which the 15-year-old Olivia Hussey is topless for a scene and you get ample viewing time of Leonard Whiting’s butt. Aside from the liberal underage nudity, Zeffirelli’s version is a timeless classic that does the play justice in any decade.

This new version, starring the sensational Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) and Douglas Booth, seems to want to merge both young and classic. The setting has all the dreamy cinematography and classic scenery in opposition to Luhrmann’s sleazy Miami-like city, but just take a look at this trailer:

The marketing reveals the type of audience that this film is going for. Toting Julian Fellowes as the adapter ties this production with the current gold standard of period pieces, Downton Abbey, which also happens to be a huge pop culture facet of the moment. The trailer calls it, “The Most Dangerous Love Story Ever Told.” Not the “best,” but the “most dangerous.” Who loves dangerous love more than teenagers?

“Forbidden Desires,” “Sworn Enemies,” “This Fall, Risk It All For Love.” For crying out loud, there’s #ForbiddenLove in the bottom right hand corner. Look, kids, identify with Shakespeare! Your parents don’t understand you! Throw it all away Risk it all for love!

I kid because it looks wonderful. Also, Ed Westwick, aka Chuck Bass, was born to play Tybalt. I can’t wait.

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