2. Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet (1995)
Baz Luhrmann’s most recent literary adaptation, his 3-D Gatsby, was not a masterpiece of literary adaptation: at times, he resorted to just quoting, and transposing on screen, great chunks of the text. But his Romeo + Juliet was. Indeed, it is the great modern Shakespeare movie: lightning-paced, dazzlingly edited and utterly cinematic. From the very beginning, with the confrontation between the Capulets’ and Montagues’ servants filmed as a shoot-out that turns a petrol station into a fireball, Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet (the subtly altered title is indicative of how he updates the classic tale of young love that is thwarted by old foolishness) is, like all his movies, lurid and manic (and that is meant as the most sincere compliment). This is a classic “teen” Shakespeare (full of sex and ecstasy – both the emotion and the drug) that is also absolutely timeless.