Like the other programs in the series "A Taste of Shakespeare," the purpose of this video is to help modern audiences, especially students, identify with the universal themes in Shakespeare's plot line. This is done by having actors tell the story of the play, act key scenes and, in asides to the camera, explain and comment on the attitudes and relationships of the main characters.
ROMEO AND JULIET is not just the story of young lovers defying their families' hatred, it is also the cautionary tale of death-obsessed teenagers who rush into suicide with the same abandon as they rush into the consummation of their love.
Juliet is a thirteen-year-old girl falling in love at first sight, for the first time. Romeo is a few years older, miserably infatuated with the elusive Rosaline when he is suddenly overcome by Juliet's delicate beauty. The lovers are passionate and vulnerable; the grown-ups have their own agenda; and even when they want to help, they give bad advice. Everything happens too fast, and with a little bit of bad luck disaster overtakes them all.
Every one of us can identify with different aspects and characters at various stages in our lives. The thrill of being in love and having that love returned; the pleasure in helping clandestine lovers find a way to be together; the terrible power of parents that makes teenagers desperate to escape; the pitiful finality of death that comes too soon.
Because we all either are, or once were, young; and because this story of vulnerable love has such instant, and long-lasting appeal; we owe it to our students, and ourselves, to teach the play with great empathy and care.
Other titles in the series are:
Hamlet - A video guide to Shakespeare's most famous play.
The Merchant of Venice - A video guide to the play from Shylock's point of view.
A Midsummer Night's Dream - A video guide to the loveliest of Shakespeare's romantic comedies.
King Lear - A video guide to one of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies.
Macbeth - A video guide to Shakespeare's "tragedy of blood".
Othello - A video guide to one of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies, dealing with revenge and pride.
Grade Level: 9-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 1997
Copyright Date: 1997
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-163-0
VHS ISBN: 1-56029-684-4
"Very well done, with excellent acting, carefully chosen scenes, cogent summaries, and simple but effective staging...it's a Shakespeare tape that will probably get a good bit of use - deservedly so. Recommended."
"Convincingly acted and set in locations--not on theatrical stages--which bring a palatable reality to the story...one of the more engaging and affective programs of its type to be found."
"A TASTE OF SHAKESPEARE is the answer to a teacher's prayer. It serves a pressing need by introducing students to the plays of William Shakespeare in a way that makes each play accessible and compelling viewing. [Each program] maintains the language and key scenes of the play which are tied together by an intelligently crafted connecting summary. The result in each case is a thoroughly informative and entertaining overview of the key themes and motifs of each of the drama...the students' appetites for the whole play will be well wetted. Equally important, they will be able to undertake their study of the text with a clear understanding of its over-arching architecture and a real feel for its drama and language. This is unquestionably the most satisfying, authoritative and pedagogically useful video introduction to the...plays of William Shakespeare I have seen. This series is a superb achievement - a wonderful marriage of modern scholarship and media production."
John MacDonald, Professor of English Education, University of Toronto