Run time: 120 mins
25 years on (425 years if you count the original), stray sounds and images remain entirely vivid, but what of the film itself? Does it hold up as more than a whirling mood board of generationally evocative iconography?
Then, mere minutes into Baz Luhrmann’s headlong dive into the decayed bohemia of Verona Beach, the aggressive, yet elegant pull of its storytelling takes hold. Replacing the “and” with a plus sign is the first indication that this isn’t your typical Bard’s tale.
A young, floppy haired Leonardo Di Caprio and Claire Danes bring instinctive grace and gut-wrenching emotion to the doom-struck lovers, caught in a war between families, the Montagues and the Capulets, here recast as battling corporate bodies.
Luhrmann’s film is exquisite to look at, with colourful and bizarre sets – the Capulets ball is a glitzy affair with every frame dripping with wealth and glamour – the pop music is loud and the pace fast. Romeo + Juliet refuses to grow up, stubbornly rooting itself in teenage angst and a punk swagger; delivering a vision that is bold, brassy, hugely inventive and accessible, and, in a strange way, just right. (Jack Whiting)