Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Italy/USA/United Kingdom, 1999. Clear Blue Sky Productions, Overseas FilmGroup, Urania Pictures S.r.l., NDF International. Screenplay by Julie Taymor, based on the play Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare. Cinematography by Luciano Tovoli. Produced by Conchita Airoldi, Jody Allen, Julie Taymor. Music by Elliot Goldenthal. Production Design by Dante Ferretti. Costume Design by Milena Canonero. Film Editing by Francoise Bonnot. Academy Awards 1999.
Julie Taymor takes her groundbreaking stage production of Shakespeare’s first play and brings it to the screen, with all its bite intact for her cinematic directorial debut. Titus (Anthony Hopkins) is the leader of the Roman guard who captures the Queen of the Goths (Jessica Lange) and her sons and mercilessly slays her eldest. In revenge, the Queen becomes Empress of Rome by beguiling the bloodthirsty emperor (Alan Cumming) with her charms and takes her revenge out on Titus’ innocent daughter (Laura Fraser), which leads to more violent retaliation from him. All the actors couldn’t be more vibrant, and the anachronistic sets and costumes (a sort of hybrid of Ancient Rome and World War II Berlin) are executed beautifully thanks to a perfect consistency that is maintained throughout. Where the film could use a few pick-me-ups perhaps is in the many self-indulgent orgy sequences that are too many to be all needed, even if they do perfectly evoke a wonderful Fellini Satyricon feel. Despite its flaws, the film is one of the most original Shakespeare adaptations to ever be made.