Academy Award winners Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange ignite the screen in a strikingly original "coup de cinema" (The New York Times). "Titus" is a "wild ride" (Chicago Tribune) - a shocking journy into the depths of th... more »e human heart - a place where vengeance and passion reign supreme. A film by Julie Taymor, acclaimed creator and director of Broadway's "The Lion King."« less
"Judging by the state of modern adaptations, it's not possible to take Shakespeare literally anymore. Either you bump him up a couple of centuries, a la Branagh's Hamlet, or you set him in some strange alternate universe (the most recent Romeo and Juliet). Director Julie Taymor (Broadway's Lion King) opts for the latter with Titus, and brings feverishly heightened visual acuity to the larger-than-life story.The play Titus Andronicus is Shakespeare's first tragedy, and it shows. Though the dialog is top-notch, he hasn't got a handle on the mechanisms of tragedy yet. The action veers from bloody misfortune to misfortune without the internal logic of, say, King Lear. In modern terms, it's more "Nightmare on Elm Street" than "Fargo."None of that matters, however. Taymor has chosen a fantastic cast, including Hopkins as the titular Roman general drivin to the brink of madness, Jessica Lange as his sultry nemesis, the Goth queen Tamora (proving how smolderingly sexy middle age can be), and Laura Fraser skillfully underplaying a potentially histrionic nightmare. The superb performances thoroughly mask the creaks in the plot.More than anything, however, the production design is worth .... Taymor's absolutely insane in the best possible ways. Her Shakespearean Rome is an anachronistic stew -- jeeps and motorcycles share the roads with carts and horses, soldiers fight with arrows, knives, and guns. The costumes must be seen to be believed. Taymor keeps a firm reign on the disparate design elements, filling each frame with fever-dream colors and subtle symbolism. There are images in this film that will be permanently seared into your subconscious.I recommend this to everyone (over 17) except the usual crowd -- Shakespearean purists won't like it, the squeamish will lose their lunch halfway through it, short attention spans will balk at the 2:30 running time. If you're none of those, snag this DVD and watch a fantastic flick. Then watch it again with the director's commentary. Then devour the added material on the 2nd disc."
Beautiful and Brutal
Zack Davisson | Seattle, WA, USA | 03/14/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sometimes art must be endured rather than enjoyed. Titus is a harsh story, with little sympathies to be given to either hero or villain. This is the first movie I have seen for along time that made me flinch at the sheer brutality of its characters. Every conceivable crime manages to make it's way into this film. Rape, mutilation, murder, cannibalism, war, lies, and betrayal are all dished up in liberal portions.And yet, Julie Taymor has taken this play and made something amazing. The characters exist in a blended world of Rome under Caesar and Mussolini. It is a visual masterpiece. Titus Andronicus (Anthony Hopkins) is a military man, who trusts in the divine right of the emperor. When that trust is betrayed in the harshest way possible, Titus begins a slow descent into madness and revenge. Tamora (Jessica Lange) is the conquered Queen of the Goths who finds a new seat of power as the wife of corrupt Emperor Saturninus. And most impressive is Aaron the Moor, who has no loyalties other than his own love of evil. A villain who can be said to be the only winner in this sad tale."
Good film, great dvd
Matthew Woodard | Kentucky, USA | 08/07/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this disc without having seen the movie because I figured, hey, Shakespeare, Anthony Hopkins, an inexpensive 2dvd set-it's worth taking a chance! Well I am most certainly glad I did. Julie Taymor's adaption of "Titus Andronicus" is a spectacle of theatrics, brilliant acting coupled with stunning photography and a deft amount of wit. A story of crime, punishment, and most importantly, revenge, the play is generally considered the least of Shakespeare's works (although I'd take it over one of his banal comedies any day) but it stands as one of the strongest film adaptions of the Bard's work I have seen. Hopkins plays the title role with all the elgance we've come to expect from one of our greatest living actors, but it's clearly an ensemble. Every actor here gets his or her moment to shine, including a surprisingly strong Jessica Lange and the scene-stealing Henry Lennix. His performance is brilliant as the embodiment of evil in that he doesn't sneer and brood and cackle with devilish laughter but rather delivers his lines with eloquence-he's charming,intelligent and TOTALLY unrepentant. Some contrivances in the plot do occasionally hinder the screenplay, as do some of the anachorisms; at times they're brilliantly symbolic and at other moments just distracting. But it all adds up to a very powerful film that is TRUE tragedy in the sense that there is no moral to the story. If you purchase the dvd, be sure and check out the feature loaded second disc, including a wonderful Q&A session with the director as well as a enjoyable hour long "making of" documentary."
My only regret........
bob lundy | San Mateo CA | 05/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A friend loaned me his copy of Titus. He didn't set it up anymore than to tell me it was a Shakespearean play. He knows I prefer it that way. He's a good friend and once again I thank him for another great tout.
I began to watch the movie about 3:00AM fully expecting to watch an hour or so, until I got too tired to watch anymore. The beginning was so engrossing I knew I had to turn it off after five or ten minutes because this fascinating and wholly unorthodox adaptation of the Bard's most violent play not only required but deserved my complete attention for which I would be richly rewarded.
I like Anthony Hopkins a lot but not for the roles that most the general public like him for, i.e. Silence of the Lambs and Magic. This enlivening portrayal I find far more satisfying than the those others. This is a character of deep motivations created by years of warring in the name of the Empire. These motivations cause Titus Andronicus to make a situtation calamitous to him and his family.
Though Titus' character is by many times the most richly drawn, the other principals are also very absorbing and perfectly played. Alan Cummings was surprisingly effective as the increasingly tyrannical Saturninus. Jessica Lange seemed, at first, to be a curious choice as Tamora, Queen of the Goths but she was splendid. I found all the performers to be exceptional.
This is a very violent story but it is shot in a non-exploitive way, though the revelations still manage to shock. Director Julie Taymor, in a most impressive feature film debut, adapts the screenplay from her own stage production. Her vision plays with the period setting incorporating many 20th century devices. I found her style reminiscent of Ken Russell but more mannered which, considering the subject matter, was an insightful decision. As Taymor states in the excellent extras section, she better captured the soul and moral meaning of the play by avoiding the excessive visuals that I think most interpretations would have not avoided.
All in all, this story of revenge is the most I have ever enjoyed Shakespeare and is definitely(incidentally, "definitely" seems to be the most misspelt word among Amazon reviews, there is no a in definitely)one of my favorite Hopkins' performances. Anyone looking for a literate, albeit catastrophic, entertainment should find this abundantly satisfying."
DVD enhances what the movie gave
ashmores | 06/26/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"(I had an advanced view of this dvd) Let me start off by saying - I went into seeing this movie with a big head...I thought the movie was going to be one of the best Shakespearean adaptations from play to movie ever because I had read the play before and love it. It falls a little because of the length - but Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange make up for the 162 minutes of movie. Victorious general, Titus Andronicus, returns to Rome with hostages: Tamora queen of the Goths and her sons. He orders the eldest hewn to appease the Roman dead. He declines the proffered emperor's crown, nominating Saturninus, the last ruler's venal elder son. Saturninus, to spite his brother Bassianus, demands the hand of Lavinia, Titus's daughter. When Bassianus, Lavinia, and Titus's sons flee in protest, Titus stands against them and slays one of his own. Saturninus marries the honey-tongued Tamora, who vows vengeance against Titus. The ensuing maelstrom serves up tongues, hands, rape, adultery, racism, and Goth-meat pie. There's irony in which two sons survive. The dvd is packed with many features including two commentaries. They are both insightful and informative. Their is a nice making of documentary that goes some what indepth in the movie but it's no Fight Club. Round of is the theatrical trailer. In the end..the movie(to me) was great! I would rather have extras on the dvd than none at all - so that was a plus. Bloody and vulgar, -- See it with a clear head..you won't like it if you don't like to hear about racism, rape, etc. etc."