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Really liked the film, Hayward as glorious as expected (the camera clearly loves her) and the rest of the cast looked very good as well. Clever 'staging', though there was a bush that really needed pruning since it took centre view in a couple of scenes. The set and costumes are deliciously opulent. 

 

I was very happy to hear that Michael Nunn and William Trevitt are hoping to make more ballet films. I'd love to see Swan Lake filmed, though judging by the comments about mime and natural settings, that is unlikely to be a contender.

 

 

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Fully endorse Coated's opinion of the film and the wonderful Francesca Hayward but must mention Matthew Ball's Tybalt. Outstanding.

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I was actually a little underwhelmed by the film.  I'm not generally convinced that a "naturalistic" approach works in the context of ballet - any attempt at immersive realism is constantly interrupted by "oh she's just got out of bed but she has pointe shoes on" or "he's just stopped in the middle of a sword fight to do a pirouette".  Also ballet dancers are not professional actors and it shows.  Hayward has some talent in that direction and I can see why they chose Bracewell for Romeo, he looked very young on camera and has a nice smile (which they kept defaulting to as obviously it was his expression that came over best on film).  Sambe had good swagger as Mercutio and Ball was a moody Tybalt, but neither was subtle (which is hardly unexpected from dancers used to "stage acting") so the overall effect was of slightly mediocre acting.  And you couldn't really see how good the standard of dance was (except for a couple of moments during Mercutio's solos) because the film wasn't shot to foreground that, so the camera constantly cut away to reaction shots and didn't show feet.   

 

I'm afraid I don't buy that this is an exciting new way of telling a story through dance or that it will bring young people into ballet.   It treats the audience in a rather patronising way.  If one wants to see a R&J with "real emotion" I would prefer the film of Maillot's Romeo et Juliette - he uses dance steps in a far more intelligent way to remove the barrier of artificiality between the dancers and the audience.  Or just see the Macmillan production on stage where it works the way it was designed too.  This film is just a superficially attractive mish-mash.

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Sambe was terrific in the solo he danced during the Mandolin Dance, where the lead Mandolin dancer usually has the role. Sambe was superfast, very exciting to watch. The tempo was fast all through, this was discussed in the Q&A after the screening. 

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Any news about what they’ve chopped from the choreography to get the running time down? 

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I think the corps dances in the street scenes have been compressed and possibly the ball scene too.  The overture was also shortened.

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I imagine that people going to this in the cinema will mainly be people who already like ballet and so are not really (presumably) the target audience. What will be interesting will be the reaction of those who watch it on TV on New Year's Day, except that we probably won't know their reaction! I understand what Lindsay is saying in her post - ballet isn't a natural art, and it smacks slightly of a lack of confidence in it to try and make it more so. But I'm looking forward to watching it on TV anyway.

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I applaud any attempt to draw people into dance but I'm not sure how successful this film will prove to be in doing so.

My main reason for wondering about this is that the early scenes were shot in such an atmospheric way as to leave the introduction of the main dancers somewhat vague. More quick close ups of reactions (and less peering through bushes and stone columns) would have established the characters better early on and enabled us to follow their individual stories more easily.  Viewers who do not 'know' the RB dancers as well as 'regulars' do might be in difficulty - as might people who do not know the story.

Although the whole of Act 1 was shot from too great a distance and left much of the dancing a bit of a 'blur', the following scenes did seem more clearly shot and I liked the way the exterior sequences melded seamlessly into the interior ones.The colour palette and the natural sunlight outside looked great on film.

Sambe's Mandolin Dance was, indeed, stunning as were some passages from Bracewell, although the latter was not as well served by the shooting as Hayward. Too often, Romeo's face was in shadow and his facial reactions appeared partially hidden by his fringe. I believe that a newspaper preview mentioned his take on Romeo being that of a "lad who couldn't believe his luck" and that worked well for me. I didn't feel as much power from Ball's Mercutio as I had from his stage performance. But, boy, there was power a plenty from McNally as Lady Capulet: I really felt her pain in the rain - a very effective and affecting scene.

As for Francesca Hayward - a simply wonderful portrayal from a beautiful artiste with a face and a range of emotions which seem made for this medium.

 

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1 hour ago, capybara said:

Ball's Mercutio

 

Tybalt?  I shall look forward to New Year’s Day.

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5 minutes ago, JohnS said:

 

Tybalt?  I shall look forward to New Year’s Day.

 

Oh dear! That's what comes with being in a permanent hurry!!!

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I saw the film at Sadler’s Wells and thought it was wonderful!  There were times when I was so transported into the film I had to bring myself back and remember I was sitting in the auditorium.  If anyone has the opportunity to see it in a cinema and is still undecided about going, definitely go and see it!

 

This is what I remember from the Q&A session (from memory and in no particular order):

 

Michael Nunn, William Trevitt, William Bracewell, Marcelino Sambe, Matthew Ball – interviewed by someone whose name I didn’t catch.

 

It was filmed in Hungary and the sets already existed, having been created for the TV series The Borgias.  There were a few indoor/outdoor changes: the Capulet’s ball (Dance of the Knights etc) was set in a garden/courtyard rather than inside, because there wasn’t a suitable set for an indoor ballroom.  Juliet’s bedroom was originally the set for the Pope’s garden, so they added a ceiling and dressed it as a bedroom [I was rather taken with the furnishings, especially the voile curtains!].

 

When asked if there had been any resistance to making the film, Michael Nunn said no.  In fact Deborah McMillan had said the ballet was “unbreakable”.  The hardest part had been getting funding.

 

The dancers had done screen tests (some for more than one part) and had no expectation of getting the parts.  Nunn and Trevitt had decided to go with dancers closer to the ages of the characters and therefore the main parts had gone to younger dancers and not older/more experienced dancers.

 

The interviewer said Matthew Ball hadn’t performed Tybalt on stage before he performed it on film [but I saw him as Tybalt in May 2019 – when was filming?] and that people had commented that he brought something extra to the stage version [I would agree as I found his performance very memorable].

 

Challenges of filming: having to do multiple takes and not matching the level of emotion expressed in the first take (Marcelino Sambe).  The swordfight scene where it ‘rains’ towards the end – pressure of having to get it right because the rain wets costumes and scenery and it’s not easy to reshoot (Matthew Ball).  Michael Nunn: it didn’t always matter if the footwork wasn’t perfect as they could just cut out the feet [an advantage of not filming it as a stage performance].

 

Speed: the score is slightly faster than they are used to dancing [Sambe spins at a speed I didn't think was humanly possible - I'm not sure if the nature of film makes him look faster than real life].

 

Nunn/Trevitt said they would like to do more films but didn’t say which ballets.  Michael Nunn said he would like to have more animals next time!

 

Edited by CatherineTheMediocre
Adding a line break
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On 13/12/2019 at 18:37, CatherineTheMediocre said:

 

 

This is what I remember from the Q&A session (from memory and in no particular order):

 

Michael Nunn, William Trevitt, William Bracewell, Marcelino Sambe, Matthew Ball – interviewed by someone whose name I didn’t catch.

 

 

 

I

 

The interviewer was Sarah Crompton  journalist and dance writer/critic

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On ‎13‎/‎12‎/‎2019 at 19:14, alison said:

Filming was summer 2018, I think.

Yes it was.

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On ‎13‎/‎12‎/‎2019 at 18:37, CatherineTheMediocre said:

I saw the film at Sadler’s Wells and thought it was wonderful!  There were times when I was so transported into the film I had to bring myself back and remember I was sitting in the auditorium.  If anyone has the opportunity to see it in a cinema and is still undecided about going, definitely go and see it!

 

This is what I remember from the Q&A session (from memory and in no particular order):

 

Michael Nunn, William Trevitt, William Bracewell, Marcelino Sambe, Matthew Ball – interviewed by someone whose name I didn’t catch.

 

It was filmed in Hungary and the sets already existed, having been created for the TV series The Borgias.  There were a few indoor/outdoor changes: the Capulet’s ball (Dance of the Knights etc) was set in a garden/courtyard rather than inside, because there wasn’t a suitable set for an indoor ballroom.  Juliet’s bedroom was originally the set for the Pope’s garden, so they added a ceiling and dressed it as a bedroom [I was rather taken with the furnishings, especially the voile curtains!].

 

When asked if there had been any resistance to making the film, Michael Nunn said no.  In fact Deborah McMillan had said the ballet was “unbreakable”.  The hardest part had been getting funding.

 

The dancers had done screen tests (some for more than one part) and had no expectation of getting the parts.  Nunn and Trevitt had decided to go with dancers closer to the ages of the characters and therefore the main parts had gone to younger dancers and not older/more experienced dancers.

 

The interviewer said Matthew Ball hadn’t performed Tybalt on stage before he performed it on film [but I saw him as Tybalt in May 2019 – when was filming?] and that people had commented that he brought something extra to the stage version [I would agree as I found his performance very memorable].

 

Challenges of filming: having to do multiple takes and not matching the level of emotion expressed in the first take (Marcelino Sambe).  The swordfight scene where it ‘rains’ towards the end – pressure of having to get it right because the rain wets costumes and scenery and it’s not easy to reshoot (Matthew Ball).  Michael Nunn: it didn’t always matter if the footwork wasn’t perfect as they could just cut out the feet [an advantage of not filming it as a stage performance].

 

Speed: the score is slightly faster than they are used to dancing [Sambe spins at a speed I didn't think was humanly possible - I'm not sure if the nature of film makes him look faster than real life].

 

Nunn/Trevitt said they would like to do more films but didn’t say which ballets.  Michael Nunn said he would like to have more animals next time!

 

Thanks Catherine, and welcome to the forum!  I'm looking forward to seeing this  this evening. 

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On ‎13‎/‎12‎/‎2019 at 18:37, CatherineTheMediocre said:

If anyone has the opportunity to see it in a cinema and is still undecided about going, definitely go and see it!

 

This is what I remember from the Q&A session (from memory and in no particular order):

 

Michael Nunn, William Trevitt, William Bracewell, Marcelino Sambe, Matthew Ball – interviewed by someone whose name I didn’t catch.

 

 

From the cinema listings, it rather sounds as though the Q&A has been added to the screening.

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1 hour ago, Sim said:

Thanks Catherine, and welcome to the forum!  I'm looking forward to seeing this  this evening. 

So am I. 

 

41 minutes ago, alison said:

 

From the cinema listings, it rather sounds as though the Q&A has been added to the screening.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed. 

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Interesting to read the various reviews already posted. 

R & J has always been my favourite ballet, from the perspective both of dancing and orchestration and, as a consequence, I was apprehensive that I would not enjoy a filmed ballet, reduced to 90 minutes by Nunn & Trevitt, as much as I’d hoped I would. 

 

I have just seen it at the Curzon and really enjoyed it. The acting of the dancing principals; Hayward, Ball, Bracewell & Sambe captures the essence of the characters in a way that the stage performance never can, whilst the principal character dancers, Saunders, McNally & Pajdak, develop the narrative, again by acting in the subtle way the filming encourages. 
 

Of course, I miss the big dance scenes, lost in the reduced time, but this is a wonderful ballet production and very much worth seeing. 

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I was also at the Curzon tonight and I agree with RobR.  I won’t go into detail until after everyone has had the chance to see it on television.  Well worth watching!  

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(Or there are some other showings at Curzons other than those which were on today)

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One thing I will say:  this film has made me realise how much I am missing William Bracewell. He really captured the essence of young, boundless, romantic love in this film and was the perfect and equal match to a wonderful Juliet from Francesca Hayward.  I do hope he is back very soon.  

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William Bracewell is programmed to be dancing Troyte in Enigma Variations this week at the matinee on Wed. 18th and in the evening of Fri. 20th.

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Oh blast (not because, I hope, he is, but because I don't think I can make either of those!)

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8 hours ago, Mandy Kent said:

The interviewer was Sarah Crompton  journalist and dance writer/critic

I thought it was Samira Ahmed. She was very good. 

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I think Sarah Crompton did the Sadler’s Wells q&a.  

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8 hours ago, Sim said:

One thing I will say:  this film has made me realise how much I am missing William Bracewell. He really captured the essence of young, boundless, romantic love in this film and was the perfect and equal match to a wonderful Juliet from Francesca Hayward.  I do hope he is back very soon.  

 

I couldn't agree more Sim! I love Bracewell's  dancing, and this film also showed great characterisation as Romeo. In the interview he said all these young dancers were just in love with ballet and hoped this would be projected to the wider audience. 

And Francesca - what can I say? She is simply stunning in this! I was quite struck how emotional she seemed in the interview after the screening.  It seems she deeply connected with the role, particularly within this "real" setting.

Indeed they all found dancing outdoors a thrilling and different experience  (the fight scenes through the streets are tremendous!) which enhanced their performances when they later danced the ballet again on stage. 

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p00yrb3p.jpg.a7154349643ed0a858c66300897fd935.jpg

 

Samira Ahmed conducted the interview shown  at the Curzon yesterday after the screening. 

Edited by Richard LH
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Which confused me, because I'd assumed it was the Sadler's Wells Q&A which had been shown - I wasn't aware of any others.  That would explain a few discrepancies in reports of it if there were two, though.

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