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I was only able to stay for an hour of the film and stayed up to Tybalt's death.  (I would have been able to see more if the pre-screening commercials at the Richmond Curzon had not been SO prolonged and if the SW Trains strike had not meant there were far fewer trains into central London.  At least you won't have to suffer that with BBC2.) Had a more muted response I think than some here but very much enjoyed the detail of the performances and thought Ball especially outstanding.  Also liked how Mercutio was given the lead in the Mandolin dance - which very much brought the crucial character of the community together.  Liked the rain and the flushed colours of the end of the second act.  It made it feel less sanitised.  (The problem with establishing an every day norm is that the eye hungers for the seeming REAL.) The potted bush - so centrally placed - in the central  Act One PDD I have to say REALLY bothered me and I felt was so unfair to both the dancers and the music.  My heart sank every time the feet disappeared.  Surely this was seen through the camera person's viewer let alone any vision mixer.  Can't believe it was let pass.  

 

Edited by Bruce Wall
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5 hours ago, Bruce Wall said:

...........but very much enjoyed the detail of the performances and thought Ball especially outstanding.  Also liked how Mercutio was given the lead in the Mandolin dance - which very much brought the crucial character of the community together.  Liked the rain and the flushed colours of the end of the second act.  It made it feel less sanitised.  (The problem with establishing an every day norm is that the eye hungers for the seeming REAL.)

 

The potted bush - so centrally placed - in the central  Act One PDD I have to say REALLY bothered me and I felt was so unfair to both the dancers and the music.  My heart sank every time the feet disappeared.  Surely this was seen through the camera person's viewer let alone any vision mixer.  Can't believe it was let pass.  

 


I certainly agree with your take on the performances but think that adapting and filming a classic for general release (and BBC Boxing Day must count as that) is, in part, often designed to introduce a book, a play, or a ballet to very many people who will never have read or seen the  original. If the TV or cinema audience is sufficiently intrigued to watch and, hopefully, enjoy this R & J, then it must count as a positive.

 

 I suspect that 99% of those who watch will not notice nor be concerned by the bush's intrusion, much less Ms Hayward's lovely feet, or their absence. 

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I was warned about the bush in advance and still didn't notice it.  I was too enraptured by what was happening to Romeo and Juliet at that point.  I could have done with a bit less curtain during Juliet's poisoning scene though.

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I did notice the bush but told myself (not entirely successfully) to ignore it.  Was the intention  to indicate to the viewer, peering through foliage,  the clandestine nature of their  encounter? 

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25 minutes ago, Richard LH said:

I did notice the bush but told myself (not entirely successfully) to ignore it.  Was the intention  to indicate to the viewer, peering through foliage,  the clandestine nature of their  encounter? 

 

I didn't hear about the bush in advance and I didn't notice it at all ! 

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8 minutes ago, bangorballetboy said:

I was a little perturbed by the additional person in the scene where Juliet is given the sleeping draught.

 

I wondered whether it was to reassure the audience that the priest wasn't up to something 'dodgy'? Although the 'extra' succeeded in looking a bit 'sus' himself.

Edited by capybara

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11 hours ago, Bruce Wall said:

I was only able to stay for an hour of the film and stayed up to Tybalt's death.  (I would have been able to see more if the pre-screening commercials at the Richmond Curzon had not been SO prolonged and if the SW Trains strike had not meant there were far fewer trains into central London.  At least you won't have to suffer that with BBC2.) Had a more muted response I think than some here but very much enjoyed the detail of the performances and thought Ball especially outstanding.  Also liked how Mercutio was given the lead in the Mandolin dance - which very much brought the crucial character of the community together.  Liked the rain and the flushed colours of the end of the second act.  It made it feel less sanitised.  (The problem with establishing an every day norm is that the eye hungers for the seeming REAL.) The potted bush - so centrally placed - in the central  Act One PDD I have to say REALLY bothered me and I felt was so unfair to both the dancers and the music.  My heart sank every time the feet disappeared.  Surely this was seen through the camera person's viewer let alone any vision mixer.  Can't believe it was let pass.  

 

Just be grateful not to have seen the bedroom pdd which was filmed through net curtains and had a pillar constantly getting in the way of the camera 😤. That bothered me a lot more than the potted plant earlier. 

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10 hours ago, MrsBBB said:

Just be grateful not to have seen the bedroom pdd which was filmed through net curtains and had a pillar constantly getting in the way of the camera 😤. That bothered me a lot more than the potted plant earlier. 

 

Thanks so, Mrs. BBB.  Perhaps my having to leave early - about which I felt aggrieved - was - in part - as you so kindly suggest - a blessing in disguise. :)

Edited by Bruce Wall

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Actually, it was great in the cinema but even better on the small screen. The whole company was terrific but Hayward and Bracewell were beyond superlatives!

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I thoroughly enjoyed this, apart from the bush in the middle of the screen during the balcony scene.  I quite liked looking through the curtains at the bedroom scene.

 

The performances of Francesca Hayward and William Bracewell were utterly sublime and I loved Matthew Ball's menacing and vicious Tybalt.

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I've no idea what ballet newcomers would have made of it (especially with no intro/synopsis/cast at the beginning), but I thought it was brilliant! Really powerful, and filmed in a really interesting and effective way. A bit like going on holiday with an old friend for the first time and seeing them in a completely new environment and so seeing them anew. I thought all the cast were terrific.

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Posted (edited)

 

I was looking out for the bush after its reception here post cinema screening....possibly could've done with a bit of a prune but clearly the directors were going for that look with it repeated in the bedroom pdd and the final scene in the crypt. At least we got a decent view of Juliet's guitar playing scene and pdd with Romeo 

 

I wanted more emotion from the villagers after the initial fighting scene.....but we then got that in spades with Mercutio and Tybalt's death. Good to see we had a realistic wound in Mercutio's back and genuine phlegm  courtesy of Beatriz Spits Brunell

 

I loved the viewpoint chosen for Juliet's friends' discovery of a 'lifeless' Juliet but found the final scene a bit claustrophobic

Edited by Rob S
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Posted (edited)

Hmm. Mixed feelings from me. Francesca Hayward was brilliant and utterly heart-rending. William Bracewell certainly looked the part but I felt that some of the filming didn’t do justice either to his acting or his dancing.

 

I was looking forward to seeing this because I thought that a “live” setting would really bring it to life - and in some scenes (mainly the indoor ones), it did. However I didn’t think the crowd scenes really worked; too much street furniture and dancers having to work around it meant that the dancing seemed - by necessity - quite restrained, and showed few dancers to advantage, with the exception of Sambe in the Mandolin dance. The potted plant has been mentioned already, but too often it felt as though one was trying to watch the dancing from behind various obstacles, which detracted from that wonderful choreography. Even in the death scene - beautifully and movingly acted by Francesca and William - the bars in the tomb seemed to get in the way!

 

Having said that, there were some real high points. The fight and that (very fortuitous!) rainstorm worked really well (I’m assuming it was a real storm??). The indoor scenes were, on the whole, effective (and I too liked the perspective when Juliet’s friends discovered her “dead.”). Great acting from Francesca and William, but also from Kristen McNally and Chris Saunders.

 

I suppose, on balance, I did enjoy it - for lots of reasons - but my overall feeling was that it lacked the grandeur of the stage version, and wasn’t a good showcase either for the choreography or for the majority of the dancers. I would say, leave the ballet to the stage, and for a realistic setting I’ll stick with the Zeffirelli film with Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting!

Edited by Balletfanp
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Balletfanp, I am in complete accord with your various observations. Re: the outdoor scenes, I thought they would ‘liberate’ the action, but they seemed to confine it. I applaud the project and hope there will be more to come, but this didn’t do justice to the choreography although some of the perspectives were innovative and interesting.

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1 hour ago, Rob S said:

 

I was looking out for the bush after its reception here post cinema screening....possibly could've done with a bit of a prune but clearly the directors were going for that look with it repeated in the bedroom pdd and the final scene in the crypt. At least we got a decent view of Juliet's guitar playing scene and pdd with Romeo 

 

 

 

Those bushes, curtains and iron bars must have bloody good agents!! I found them intensely irritating, I can't deny. Enjoyed most of it though - but did wonder what they filmed it on at times - their iPhones? In the wider shots I could barely recognise anyone!

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Posted (edited)
I applaud the effort made by all involved to translate a ballet into another medium but I really have very mixed feelings about this film, and it didn't do Macmillan's choreography any justice.
I disliked the filming of the balcony scene and especially the bedroom scene: the curtains and bed pole obstructing the view really annoyed me. The beauty of Macmillan's pd2s did not translate well and at times the camera used odd angles and it felt so wrong to me, a lot of the beauty of the pd2s choreography was totally lost in translation. The actual dancing scenes didn't come over very well (but perhaps I am too used seeing R&J and those beautiful pd2s on the stage of the ROH). 
 
 
 
Edited by Xandra Newman
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Posted (edited)

I enjoyed this, having been waiting so long ..... as there is not a Curzon within reach of me!

 

I like the realistic setting very much, although I agree the dancers were a bit cramped at times .... by the fountain for instance.  Most of the time I liked Michael Nunn’s and William Trevitt’s choice of close-ups and angles.

 

I thought all the principals were very good.  It was good to see William Bracewell’s fluid dancing as Romeo.  I can see why he was cast.  Matthew Ball was completely convincing as Tybalt.  I liked the idea to have Marci Sambe dancing both the lead mandolin and Mercutio, else he doesn’t get much dancing.  And he is really, really good!   I also enjoyed the movie for showing much more of Benvolio’s participation than gets to be seen on stage and James Hay’s eyes flashed meaningfully.  

 

However I was disappointed to miss much of Francesca Hayward’s dramatic acting due to the net curtains, pillars etc in the bedroom scenes, and later due to the bars in the crypt.  She is such a perfect Juliet.

 

Interestingly I didn’t miss any of the dancing or scenes that were cut.  Hmmm, I wonder if they are strictly necessary on stage either. 

 

However ... I would have much preferred to view this on the big screen, as TV doesn’t ‘pull me into the action’ in quite the same way.   I do hope it will screened nationally, and internationally too, at some point. 

 

 

Edited by FionaE
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Well I disagree with practically everyone on this.  I wouldn't argue with any of the Directors' choices on camera placing - indeed, I thought these heightened the drama and Ms Hayward in closeup was really most impressive.   

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2 hours ago, RobR said:

Actually, it was great in the cinema but even better on the small screen.

 

Depends on the size of your screen, I guess.  I'm normally fine with 28", but it did feel a bit small, especially in the ultra-wide "letterbox" version, having seen it in the cinema. 

 

(And no, it was a fake storm.  Although the wind in the balcony pdd unfortunately was genuine)

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I missed some parts which I enjoy in performance but which were omitted in the film but that is inevitable. For me, the stand out performance was from Matthew Ball, and of course James Hay is,always worth seeing. It's a good looking film and I enjoyed it but still prefer a 'performance' dvd

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Posted (edited)

It's funny.  I much preferred this take on the small rather than the large screen (where I only saw one hour of it).  I was much less troubled by the obstacles on the television, perhaps as I had a better awareness of the director's intention - perhaps too because I was not under so severe a point of professional pressure when watching it.  I thought the MacMillan fitted the Balletboyz' objectives well and I could see several other of his narrative works filling a similar function alongside, say, some of Matthew Bourne's tomes which are, by definition, rather cinematic in construct.  Per that chance I'd love to see a realistic take on his 'Play Without Words'.  It would I think heighten the dichotomies of his Servant's soul and certainly serve the jazz score well - being so easy to open up.  That said I don't think this style of presentation would be an appropriate vehicle for, say, the focused delicacy of an Ashton where the balance of the theatrical motifs lie at the very root of his balletic etching.   

Edited by Bruce Wall
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I loved the film!  And I also loved the much-maligned rosemary bush that was waving gently in the breeze - could almost smell that oh-so-Italian aroma!  Hayward really did look 13.  She was so light, and playful, making it all the more tragic.  Yes, Ball stood out - everyone was good - the music is terrific of course - a fantastic experience which I hope many of the 'non hardened' viewers enjoyed too.

I hope it will be possible to buy the DVD of this.  It doesn't replace, let alone improve upon, a traditional staging, but it is wonderful in its own way and very atmospheric.

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Add me to the list of people who found some of the "arty" camerawork annoying. I don't want to be trying to watch the dancing & acting through gauze/bars/etc. It's annoying enough when you miss things from the unavoidably restricted view seats at the ROH but to have a deliberately restricted view is even more annoying! On the plus side, I did enjoy getting to see the costumes in close-up & the fight scenes with the downpour at the end were thrilling.

 

I did think the performances were all excellent. I thought Hayward & Bracewell were perfect for their roles. She is just luminous on screen (though I really hope she doesn't give up ballet for films). I was pleased that many of the dancers who were my favourites in their roles in the last run were in the film's cast: Hayward, Ball, Sambe, Mock, Hay. I think Ball is terrific as Tybalt, in fact having seen him do both Romeo & Tybalt I prefer him as the latter (and wish he'd likewise do Lescaut as well as Des Grieux). Mock is the only Paris I've seen who actually makes me like the character & feel sorry for him.

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Having seen the screening at SW with the post Q&A & now watched on my (very small) small screen I must say I enjoyed it equally both times.... so hats off to the directors & all involved in achieving this. I do think at times camera angles perhaps could’ve been improved upon....I wonder that perhaps budgetary/time constraints limited the number of takes & number of set ups thus limiting how much ‘in the can’ do to speak material they actually had to work with to create final edit. It was commendable & I think sets a precedent to repeat the excercise & I hope next time with the budget etc to make it bigger & better. I think this also must link into distribution.... it surely should’ve been mainscreened our via all the regular ballet ‘event’ cinemas. The big popular ballets like R&J from ROH certainly sell well at my local Odeons & Cineworld & independent cinemas so think this would’ve too....

I also think this condensed version is a great entry to Ballet for those new to it & also was very good paced telling of Shakespeare’s tale making it relevant viewing for those studying the play for GCSE for example or even younger school years. 

The casting was sublime.....thank you! 

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Posted (edited)

I greatly enjoyed the film and I imagine it's one I will come back to. Hope they do a dvd.

Not much to say that hasn't been said except that I thought the costumes were wonderful, I will watch again for those, and (an unimportant point) that the storm was real, see Tom and Ty podcast for more about that. 

I am looking forward to the next filmed ballet the Ballet Boyz do. 

Edited by Janite
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I do agree that a lot of the choreography was not given full value by the manner of the filming; but I think there was still enough clarity for it to be seen to be exciting. I felt as if we were often watching the action as if we were outsiders looking in on the town and families going through this drama - glimpsing them through gaps in trees/walls/foliage/archways. It made it all feel very real.

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I've watched it twice now and agree with many of the posts on the Forum. For me, acting was put above ballet and some of the beauty and the power of dancing in R&J was lost. That's not to say that I didn't love it because I did - many of my absolute favourite dancers captured on film!  I thought the casting was perfect and could watch Hayward/ Bracewell/Ball/Sambe/Hay over and over again (and probably will!), and of course, watching on film is never as good as actually seeing it live. I think it also demonstrated what a good job the producers of the live cinema broadcasts do when they bring some many close ups to the screen as well as capturing the power of the ballet steps.    

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