Thursday, July 21, 2011

Before Gnomeo and Juliet, there was Romeo and Juliet: Sealed with a Kiss

Romeo and Juliet: Sealed with a Kiss. Dir. Phil Nibbelink. Perf. Daniel Trippett, Tricia Trippett, and Chip Albers. 2006. DVD. Indican , 2007.

I'm sure Shakespeare Geek will be among the first to point out that he mentioned this film in 2006. He's always cutting edge, and I'm always limping along behind.

All the same, I often—eventually—get there. This time, when I got there, I found seals performing a musical version of Romeo and Juliet.

Although I want to enjoy and recommend this film unreservedly, it tends to be too sentimentalized. The clip below—the balcony scene—will give some indication of that, though it will also give a slight flavor of the comic relief into which Mercutio and Benvolio have been turned. You will also notice that the usual joke—is it a joke here?—about "wherefore" meaning "where" instead of "why" is brought up twice. Mercutio says "Wherefore art thou Romeo?" while searching for Romeo, but (to give him and the scriptwriter the benefit of the doubt), he isn't necessarily using it to mean "where." He may just be quoting a line or pondering why Romeo is behaving as he is. Later, Juliet's balcony speech is paraphrased, and she says "Where are you, my Romeo?" and Romeo responds with a prompt "I'm right here!" I think I'm right in saying that this strikes right at the nerve of a pet peeve for most Shakespearians. And it's completely unnecessary in this case! If you're paraphrasing anyway, wherefore would you not have Juliet say "Why are you Romeo?"

But that's something of a digression, and the film doesn't stand or fall on that line. Indeed, a number of moments—particularly some of the comic songs—are delightful, and, as a basic introduction to the plot of the play, Romeo and Juliet: Sealed with a Kiss isn't terrible.

As promised, here's the balcony scene. I break the clip off right before the sappy song starts but right after the visual allusion to "star-crossed lovers" lights up the sky.

Links: The Film at IMDB.

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Duane Morin said...

You're right, I spotted this a mile away. :)

When I did first review that movie, I was ranting and raving at some of the liberties they took (such as the dreaded Wherefore issue). But it grew on me over time really for one reason - it's a very easy introduction to the play for young kids. I would not stick a high school class in front of this one and expect them to get anything out of it - it may even do more harm than good.

But, and you can trust me on this because I've been there, a 3yr old will absorb the details like they're second nature. In this movie's version of the Capulet party, the Montagues (the brown seals) cover themselves in white sand so they can appear to be white (Capulet) seals. So my daughter at the dinner table rubs her face in parmesan cheese and announces "Look! I'm a Capulet!"


Sharky said...

My main gripe with this is the animation quality. They took five years to animate this, and by that time, flash technology went leaps and bounds to the point where twelve-year-olds can make smoother, more colorful animation than this. One should never sit on a project for too long, especially when the "animation studio" is pure software.

Either way, I found it most tolerable. And I'm glad I'm not the only one who actually watched it.

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Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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