Why No Romeo And Juliet Movie Will Ever Top Baz Luhrmann's Version

As far as onscreen Shakespeare adaptations go, Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet can't be topped. Click through to revisit some of the best moments from the movie.

20th Century Fox Film Corp./ Everett Collection

Senior Digital Editor

In the pantheon of great film directors working today, there are a few that rise to the top for me personally. Sofia Coppola's movies are breathtakingly beautiful, perfectly cast and just so zeitgeisty. David Fincher's films are dark, provocative and often disturbing. But in my opinion, there's nobody better at combining an epic narrative with gorgeous, over-the-top visuals than Baz Lurhmann.

Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet happens to be my all-time favorite movie—tied only perhaps with 2001's Moulin Rouge!, of course. Both are the sort of love-it-or-hate-it cult classic that'll never be everyone's cup of tea (the same could be said of his most recent project, The Great Gatsby), but that's exactly the kind of movie Luhrmann's so skilled at making. His take on Shakespeare's timeless play took plenty of risks—heck, his Mercutio is a cross-dressing disco diva—but packed an emotional punch no other R&J adaptation to date has been able to match. In addition to his version's stunning set design (Juliet's candelit mausoleum! That Versace mansion-esque Capulet house! That swimming pool!) and style (Hawaiian shirts, anyone?), his young leads knew more about chemistry than Walter White. It's no coincidence that Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, both of whom were essentially child stars best for their TV work at the time they were cast, are now two of the most famous faces on the planet. Talk about spotting talent early!

And that brings me to director Carlo Carlei's new adaptation of the play, which hits theaters this weekend. As intrigued as I am to see the very talented Hailee Steinfeld step into Juliet's doomed slippers, I'm just not sure another Romeo remake was necessary—not yet, at least, considering Luhrmann's came out less than a decade ago. For me, the image of Claire Danes leaning against her balcony wearing a white dress, angel wings and delicately looped braids is as iconic as it gets. And don't even get me started on the moment Leo and Claire first spot one another through that fish tank. Movie moments don't get much better than that, folks.

So while the latest iteration of the Shakespeare tragedy middle schoolers love to hate (to love?) does have several things going for it—including the presence of a different Homeland star, Damian Lewis—I'm not quite sold. Because as far as stylish Shakespearean flicks go, Baz's can't be topped. Click through above to revisit some of his adaptation's most beautiful moments—and then go listen to The Cardigans' "Lovefool." Loudly. On repeat.


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