A sumptuous new interpretation of this heartbreaking love story, directed by Carlo Carlei and scripted by Julian Fellowes, marks Swarovski Entertainment’s first foray into film production.
The young stars have a chemistry that translates beautifully onto the big screen and will captivate audiences around the world.
It’s true – what’s more, it’s happening right now as you read: Swarovski Entertainment has taken its first-ever steps into the world of feature films to co-produce a remake of Romeo and Juliet with Amber Entertainment. No stranger to collaborative screen projects, Swarovski’s heritage includes several decades of costume and set design across ballet, theatre, opera and film. What this is, says Nadja Swarovski, is “a way of deepening involvement with established visionaries, but also supporting today’s emerging talent. The young stars have a chemistry that translates beautifully onto the big screen and will captivate audiences around the world.”
The story is so familiar that it’s virtually been written into the DNA of a whole range of disparate cultures: boy meets girl, they fall in love, only to discover that they come from two bitterly feuding families/castes/tribes/warring nations; at the end, their families are reunited, but at a terrible cost. All of which might prompt the question: given that we know the angle, why make it again? Scriptwriter Julian Fellowes, of Downton Abbey and Gosford Park fame, explains that it’s a long time since a romantic, traditional rendition has graced the screen. “People have made Romeo and Juliet – and some very good ones – but they were set in modern Ohio, or whatever. This isn’t that. This is the romantic medieval love story as conceived by Shakespeare. We felt that, really, what we needed was just to make it slightly more accessible to today’s generation.”
It is true that there is something particularly poignant about young love, before cynicism and life experience take their toll, and it makes for powerful cinema. Shakespeare originally wrote the play for young teens, and youth will lend authenticity to this interpretation: the star-crossed lovers are played by 16-year-old American Hailee Steinfeld, and her Romeo by young British Burberry model, Douglas Booth. The cast is a roll-call of class acting talent under the direction of Carlo Carlei (The Flight of the Innocent): Damian Lewis, Natasha McElhone, Paul Giametti, Tomas Arana, Laura Morante, Holly Hunter, Tom Wisdom, Christian Cooke – the list just carries on from there.
There is much to look forward to when the film is released in 2013, in particular Oscar-winning designer Milena Canonero’s costumes. In this respect, there couldn’t be a more appropriate film for Swarovski to co-produce, given the opportunity for crystal-bedecked costumery. In the Middle Ages clothing was a status symbol: it was de rigueur for high-ranking nobility such as the Montagu and Capulet families to parade their opulence. In fact, it was enshrined in the Sumptuary Law: peasants could only wear brown or black; merchants weren’t allowed ermine fur; and magnificence was the prerogative of nobility. Clothing was made from luxurious cloth such as brocade and velvet trimmed with ermine. The more embellishment the better – gold and silver embroidery, glittering heraldry, pearl buttons, beads and stones. Romeo and Juliet promises to be a feast for the eyes, as well as food for the soul.