Titus * Julie Taymor * 1999

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I had never heard of this film before I saw it in the videostore. The back had a promising description. A bizare horror-comedy playing in Roman times with ritual murders. Some of this description is true!

“Titus” is a revision of an early play by William Shakespeare that deals with the Roman conquerer Titus. For this film Taymor has put the Romans in a more modern time. Classical costumes, but driving both horse-and- carriage and motor-cycles. The language seems to be in the original text from the play, old english. The story tells the time when the Romans just reconquered Rome from the Goths and they are in doubt who will be the new Emperor. Titus (Antony Hopkins) is a respected old legionaire who persuades the council to choose the rather effeminate Saturninus (Alan Cumming). After this, things are rapidly going downward for Titus. He looses appearance, his sons, one hand and his daughter is brutely mutilated by the two sons (Alarbus (Raz Degan) and Chiron played by Jonathan Rhys-Meyers who we know of “Ghormenghast”) of the queen of Goths (Jessica Lange) who married Saturninus. Titus appeared to go insane, but not so.

“Titus” isn’t really a horror, nor a thriller, but also not hilariously funny. Of course the setting, stages, stories, etc. are quite humerous and this mostly resulted in a pretty bizare film. It is almost three hours long, but this could have easily been one less in my opinion. Overall I found it unexpectedly strange and quite amusing to watch. Not your everyday movie indeed and also not really for the larger audience. Another weird Shakespeare play put to film, holding the middle between Baz Luhrman’s “Romeo + Juliet” (1996) and Peter Greenaway’s “Prospero’s Books” (1991).

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