A Twentieth Century Fox movie by Baz Luhrmann. It is a modern interpretation of the Shakespearean tradgedy, Romeo and Juliet with visually stunning colours and the coolest music.

Two Households
both alike in dignity
in fair Verona
where we lay our scene
From Ancient grudge
break new mutiny
where civil Blood
makes civil hands unclean
From forth the Fatal lions
Of these two Foes
a Pair of Star Cross'd lovers
take their life.

And the characters speak with the "original" Shakespearean dialogue: Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo, Claire Danes as Juliet. You have to listen a little harder to the dialogue to catch on, and to appreciate the play on words e.g. "Post Haste" as the courier service, and "Long Sword"/"Short sword" as the guns they used.

And who can forget the lovely Juliet on her balcony dressed like an angel with wings...

My only love sprung from my only hate
Too early seen unknown, and known Too Late
Prodigious birth of love it is to me
That I must love a Loathed Enemy

Soundtrack from the Motion Picture
  1. #1 Crush by Garbage
  2. Local God by Everclear
  3. Angel by Gavin Friday
  4. Pretty Piece of Flesh by One Inch Punch
  5. Kissing you by Des'ree
  6. Whatever (I had a dream) by Butthole Surfers
  7. Lovefool by The Cardigans
  8. Young Hearts Run Free by Kim Mazelle
  9. To You I Bestow by Mundy
  10. Talk Show Host by Radiohead
  11. Little Star by Stine Nordenstam
  12. You and Me Song by The Wannadies

This writeup is about the single most potent spoiler in this movie. It's likely to surprise people who are quite familiar with the play. I entreat you to see the film before you continue.

Luhrmann has always been a daring filmmaker in the sense that all of his work is so broad and campy that it risks absurdity. Romeo + Juliet is his most uneven picture, with a number of sequences that simply don’t click the way they should. In my mind, though, all is forgiven in the last fifteen minutes, which contain his most perversely successful gamble.

Juliet wakes up at the exact moment Romeo swallows the poison. She watches him die, and he dies knowing she's alive.

I have no idea whether this twist is original to Luhrmann, but that’s hardly the point. The impact of this reinterpretation— this subversion— of Shakespeare’s climax is unforgettable. Nor does it depend entirely on the element of surprise: Repeated viewings only make it more resonant.

It’s also the quietest scene of Luhrmann’s career. He puts no swelling music under it, and his camera is far less mobile than usual. The rest of the film, with all its noise, rapid cuts, and gratuitous head trips, begins to make sense as an elaborate preparation for an ending that might have been less effective without the contrast. Think of it as a cinematic variation on the second half of Mahler’s ninth symphony, with its clangy, chaotic third movement setting up the steady, deeply moving fourth. Or you can just look at it as a rare moment of grace from an enjoyable but abidingly unsubtle director. It’s genius either way.

Addendum: According to some—including Timeshredder, who brought it to my attention—this twist was first written into Romeo and Juliet in the 18th century. Whatever its origins, Romeo's late realization now seems integral to the play. In a production I saw recently at the Seattle Shakespeare Company's theatre, Romeo sees Juliet's hands twitch a moment after he quaffs the poison. It's profoundly appropriate that both of them, not just Juliet, should know the extent to which their plans have gone wrong.

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