As a Shakespeare aficionado, I’m looking forward to Carlo Carlei‘s upcoming film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. Julian Fellows, creator of Downton Abbey, wrote the script, Hailee Steinfeld, so impressive in 2010’s True Grit, stars as Juliet, and the entire production was filmed in Italy. There’s no Romeo and Juliet film I’m truly fond of, and I’ve been eager to see if this team can pull it off.
But then the unthinkable happened, a publicist told reporters in Cannes that “This is ‘Romeo and Juliet’ for the Twilight Generation,” and I promptly lost all interest. Comparing one of the greatest works of the most accomplished writer in the English language to Stephenie Meyer’s linguistic, narrative, and thematic abomination does not inspire confidence.
As reported by 24 Frames, it appears that the film’s producers want their new adaptation to appeal to teenagers. “It’s a classic story that we want every teenager in the world to come see,” says producer Ileen Maisel.
A perfectly reasonable sentiment, I suppose, as they’re actually using teenage actors for the parts, a rarity among Romeo and Juliet performances. I just have a sinking suspicion that the same teenagers who adore Twilight aren’t exactly going to flock to a film based on a play they hated when their ninth-grade English teacher assigned it.
Maisel also relates that Shakespeare’s original text will be retained, and uttered in “understandable iambic pentameter” (which will, I assume, distinguish it from Baz Luhrmann‘s incomprehensible 1997 adaptation). I’m sure those accustomed to sparkling vampires will love hearing dialogue like “This is that very Mab / That plaits the manes of horses in the night / And bakes the elf-locks in foul sluttish hairs.”
Opposite Steinfeld, Douglas Booth plays Romeo, and 24 Frames has also provided our first image of the “star-crossed lovers.”
Romeo and Juliet is currently in post-production, and expected to be picked up for a 2013 American release.