Ever since we added Romeo and Juliet to the curriculum, I've been able to use Baz Luhrmann's William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, starring Claire Danes and Leonardo Decaprio, in the class. I do a variety of things with it. I never show the whole thing, except after school for extra credit, but do a number of scene comparisons and film analysis pieces with it - sometimes comparing it with Zefferrelli's 1968 version.
I feel like I know almost everything there is to know about the film. I know its strengths and its weaknesses. I think it's mostly a brilliant film, so the strengths - the aquarium scene, the opening sequence, the music and performances - far outweigh its weaknesses (the balcony stage isn't blocked well, Act 3.1 changes the meaning of the scene by making Romeo's murder of Tybalt seem like bloodthirsty revenge rather than heat-of-the-moment impulse).
However, I learned something new about the film tonight, as I surfed through imdb.com to see if a kid's comment this week when the nurse appeared on film ("Hey, isn't she that lady who killed Selena?") was true (it wasn't - different actress).
The new fact? Romeo's mother is played by the same woman who played Ross and Monica Geller's mother on Friends.
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