Romeo + Juliet (Blu-ray) (1996)

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Released 3-Nov-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Audio-Visual Commentary-Shaking Up Shakespeare Picture-in-Picture Mode
Audio Commentary-with B.Luhrmann, C.Martin, D.M.McAlpine & C.Pearce
Featurette-From the Bazmark Vault - four featurettes
Featurette-Romeo + Juliet: The Music - documentary & four featurettes
Featurette-Director's Gallery - six featurettes
Featurette-Director of Photography Gallery - five featurettes
Featurette-Interview Gallery - eight featurettes
Theatrical Trailer-International Theatrical Trailer
Web Links-BD-LIVE
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 120:10
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Baz Luhrmann
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Claire Danes
Leonardo DiCaprio
Jesse Bradford
Vondie Curtis Hall
Brian Dennehy
John Leguizamo
Miriam Margolyes
Harold Perrineau
Christina Pickles
Pete Postlethwaite
Paul Rudd
Paul Sorvino
Diane Venora
Case Amaray Variant
RPI $39.95 Music Nellee Hooper
Craig Armstrong
Marius De Vries


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (4608Kb/s)
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Danish
Finnish
French
Norwegian
Portuguese
Spanish
Swedish
English Audio Commentary
Danish Audio Commentary
Finnish Audio Commentary
Norwegian Audio Commentary
Swedish Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Romeo + Juliet is the middle film of Baz Luhrmann's Red Curtain Trilogy. The first film was Strictly Ballroom in 1992, the last Moulin Rouge in 2001. These three films are not linked by plot or characters as is usual for a series of films but rather by their theatrical motifs, tragic plot endings and Luhrmann's unique stylistic and contemporary interpretation of entertainment linked to the past: classical dance for Strictly Ballroom, verse drama for Romeo + Juliet and musical theatre for Moulin Rouge. These forms of entertainment mainly belong to the immediate past, ballroom dancing and theatrical musicals belong to the l9th and 20th centuries but the poetry of William Shakespeare is 400 years old and was written for a different audience. Could Baz Luhrmann adapt William Shakespeare's classic tale of the doomed couple Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet for the modern teen and young adult audience?

     The main critical discussion for this movie since its release in 1996 revolves around this issue of the presentation of this classic Shakespearean tale in a new modern context. Personally, I believe it works both ways. By that I mean that the classic tale was written as a play for a live audience. If you want to view it this way on film then probably Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 version is the one to go for. However, if you belong to the MTV generation and you like your films made like a series of MTV videos, complete with catchy music, action and fast-pace editing, then despite your appreciation of William Shakespeare you may find that Baz Luhrmann's modern re-telling of the story grows on you.

     This version of Romeo + Juliet is the first on Blu-ray after four previous releases on DVD in Region 4. The first was a basic edition, the second was a special edition with extras included (unlike the basic edition), the third was released in the Red Curtain Trilogy box set and the final edition (released in 2007) was released as a special 'Music Edition' with extras focusing on the music in the film. Does this Blu-ray release offer anything different for you if you own Romeo + Juliet on DVD already?

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Transfer Quality

Video

     This Blu-ray disc takes up about 42 gb of a dual-layered BD-50 disc (50 gb). The main presentation uses a MPEG-4 AVC/1080p24 video transfer with an average bitrate of 20.46 Mbps. The aspect ratio is 2:40:1.

     The overall image is okay for Blu-ray, not stellar. This is because of the use of handheld cameras for the principal photography which contains low level noise. Colour is vibrant, especially primary colours. If red was the highlighted colour for Moulin Rouge, then blue is the dominant colour of this film. The minor aliasing issue which affected the DVD transfer is not present here. There are no noticeable film artefacts either.

     Subtitles are available in English for the Hearing impaired, Danish, Finnish, French, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish. The audio commentary by Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Donald M. McAlpine and Craig Pearce is also subtitled in English, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish. Do note, however, the option of choosing French subtitles is not available from the set-up menu, rather it needs to be chosen from your remote-control 'on-the-fly'.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Since music is a vital part of this film, the audio transfer on Blu-ray is significantly better than previous audio transfers on DVD. The main audio track is an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track encoded at 4206 kbps. The Portuguese and Spanish dubs are encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 kbps. The French dub is a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded track encoded at 224 kbps as is the audio commentary (although it is a Dolby Digital 2.0 track).

     Dialogue is mainly clear from the front channels and the audio synchronised. Craig Armstrong, Marius de Vries and Nellee Hooper's musical score is a brilliant mix of 1990s contemporary music and classical music themes. Nelle Hooper's choice of songs is also superb. The importance of the music to this film is discussed further in a 49-minute documentary available from the extras menu.

     Surround channel usage supports sound effects for parties, crowds, gun battles, car scenes and news reports in the background. The subwoofer also packs a punch with sound effects supported with a dynamic deep bass.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     The Blu-ray production team needs to be re-employed after this effort on the extras menu. The many short featurettes are cumbersome to view because they must be selected individually from each extra sub-menu. There is no play-all option as is standard on other Blu-ray releases from other manufacturers. Unfortunately, this really frustrated me when I viewed the extras in reviewing this Blu-ray. No doubt it will frustrate you too!

Shaking Up Shakespeare Picture-in-Picture Mode with Audio Commentary by Co-Screenwriter Director Baz Luhrmann, Production Designer Catherine Martin, Director of Photography Donald M. McAlpine and Co-Screenwriter Craig Pearce

     Shaking Up Shakespeare mode provides the audio commentary with a Picture-in-Picture screen of behind-the-scenes filming, sketches and designs, featurettes discussing the making of the film (which can also be viewed separately in the extras section), production details trivia and information on each song from the soundtrack.

Audio Commentary by Co-Screenwriter Director Baz Luhrmann, Production Designer Catherine Martin, Director of Photography Donald M. McAlpine and Co-Screenwriter Craig Pearce

     This is the same audio commentary which was included on the 2002 special edition DVD and the Picture-in-Picture commentary for this Blu-ray.

From the Bazmark Vault - four featurettes

     Behind-the scenes footage, including First Kiss (2:20)—the first rehearsal kiss between Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes - along with the Beach Scene (4:17), Uncut Rehearsal (4:40) and Outside the Church (2:40)

Romeo + Juliet: The Music documentary and featurettes

     The Romeo + Juliet: The Music Documentary (49:13) is new to Blu-ray and is presented in 1080p. This is the best extra on this Blu-ray release which focuses on the film's famous soundtrack. I especially enjoyed the anecdotes of the composers playing tracks over the phone to Baz Luhrmann from London to New York City during post-production. Remember, this was done during the beginning of the internet era and it would be done differently today, only 15 years later! Also included is a featurette about the young boy who sings in the film - Everybody's Free: The Journey of the Song (1:46), The London Music Mix (4:20) is about the sound design of the music and Temp Music: The Journey of the Song (2:06), features Baz Luhrmann discussing how he selected songs for the soundtrack.

Director's Gallery - six featurettes

     These short clips all feature Baz Luhrmann discussing various topics. Impact (4:18) looks at the polarised critical reaction to the film; Why Shakespeare? (2:56) and Pitching Shakespeare (10:05) are from the same 1998 lecture delivered by Luhrmann to university film students explaining his motivation for making the film and telling the funny story of pitching the film to 20th Century Fox executives. Directing the Gas Station (7:02), Directing the Pool Scene (5:18) and Tybalt's Execution (4:21) all show Luhrmann working on the set.

Director of Photography Gallery - five featurettes

     Cinematographer Donald M. McAlpine presents five brief featurettes discussing video effects - A Hole in the Wall (00:49), The Fish Tank Scene (1:31), Filming the Lift Scene (2:25), One Light (1:10) and Filming in the Church (1:02)

Interview Gallery - eight featurettes

     The interview gallery includes cast and crew interviews with Leonardo DiCaprio (1:53), Claire Danes (2:28), John Leguizamo (1:52), Production Designer Catherine Martin (2:33), Co-Writer Craig Pearce (1:47), Editor Jill Bilcock (1:47), Choreographer John O'Connell (1:09) and Costume Designer Kym Barrett (2:03).

Theatrical Trailer

     The international film trailer is included in standard definition (1:31).

BD-LIVE

     Use BD-Live to access 20 Century Fox's Live Lookup feature which operates like a trivia track. The What’s New feature shows other trailers for 20th Century Fox films.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This version of Romeo + Juliet on Blu-ray is identical to other English-friendly releases in the United States and the United Kingdom. They are encoded Region-ALL.

Summary

    If you haven't picked this up on DVD before then give it a try if you are a fan of the film. The main attraction is the movie and the Picture-in-Picture and/or audio commentary but it may be not enough for you to overlook the pure frustration experienced in accessing the extras from the extras menu!

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 020), using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

Other Reviews NONE
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