• Feb 24,2022
  • In Review
  • By Abundant Art

Encore: Romeo and Juliet – Barbican Cinema Review

Shakespeare wrote the story at the end of the 16th century, and ‘Romeo and Juliet’ has become a great modern ballet classic of the ballet repertory since its creation by Royal Ballet Director Kenneth MacMillan and its premiere in 1965. In this film, Marcelino Sambé plays Romeo and Anna-Rose O’Sullivan plays Juliet. Marcelino Sambé is a Portuguese ballet dancer. He is the second black male dancer to be a principal dancer with The Royal Ballet in London. As for Anna-Rose, she was announced by the Royal Ballet that she would be the principal dancer in September 2021. The strong cast makes this ballet film full of appeal.

There is no doubt that ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is a familiar story all over the world. The doomed lovers try to find their way through the colour and action of Renaissance Verona, where a busy market soon erupts into sword fighting and a family feud leads to tragedy for both the Montagues and the Capulets. In the end, the lovers attempt to be together. At first, Juliet took fake drugs and planned to run away with Romeo, but Romeo heard the fake death news and then committed suicide. Juliet wakes up to find that Romeo committed suicide and followed suit. The story ends with the reconciliation of the two families.

The family conflict in the plot is very passionate and is reflected in the performance. The female lead seems like a noble princess but is really pitiful, especially in the second half. The desperate conflict expressed by her when she was forced to marry someone she didn’t love attracted the audience. Her performance at the end, where she decides to commit suicide by taking poison completely captured the audience’s attention.

The performance of the live symphony orchestra within the film drew the audience into Renaissance Italy. It not only highlighted the love tragedy of Romeo and Juliet but also made the entire presentation full of appeal. Every musical chapter was matched seamlessly with the dance moves of the actors.

This film is an excellent combination of documentary and stage play. In the film, interviews with dancers are interspersed, so that the audience can better understand the creative process of the performance. What is most commendable is that the film accurately captures the facial expression of each dancer. People can clearly feel the pain and joy shown by the actors as if they were there. Finer details of intricate expressions that could otherwise be easily overlooked in live dance performances are closely captured by the camera. The film presents this love tragedy to the audience completely.

For more info click here: https://www.barbican.org.uk/whats-on/2022/event/roh-live-romeo-and-juliet

Reviewed by Jiajing Yang. Yang is a MA Documentary-Fiction student at UCL and a volunteer writer for Abundant Art. Yang has written several different articles on the WeChat platform and Zhihu website, mostly about film and literature, and she has published a romantic novel based on ancient China. 

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