Those that talk flicks with me will often hear me go on and on about perfect scenes, scenes that elevate a moment of celluloid into a work of art. Scenes where music and imagery join together to create a flawless spectacle that will be burned into your memory forever. That my dear friends brings me to the subject of this week’s Fiendish Flicks Friday, for no better example of this can I give than that which takes place in Julie Taymor’s Film Titus.
Often in movies it seems, to drive home the concept that a character is pretentious, the character has to sip wine and quote Shakespeare. Anyone that has actually studied the works of Shakespeare, knows that he did not write high art. He wrote stories of sex, of insanity, and most of all of revenge. If Shakespeare wrote screenplays in this day and age, Edward Norton would be his leading man. So to truly appreciate Shakespeare, you must look past the elaborate speech and the traditional dress, to the heart of the story. For a Fiendish Flicks fan to truly gain an appreciation for Shakespeare, look no further than Titus.
Though the language of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus is still intact, Julie Taymor created a film that was a far cry from anything that came before it. Taymor has a unique vision. Like a love child of Baz Luhrmann and Hannibal Lector, Silence of the Lambs; The Musical, that’s what she created with Titus. It starring Anthony Hopkins no less.
The story is a tangled web of an eye for an eye, a hand *cough* for a hand. Titus (Hopkins) comes home from war with the captive Queen of the Goths, who is played by Jessica Lang in all her raw unbridled glory. Upon returning, he refuses the crown of Emperor, handing it to the previous ruler’s eldest Son Saturninus (Alan Cumming); who in turn marries the Queen of the Goths who vows revenge, hell fire and damnation be hailed upon Titus for killing her own eldest son to appease the Roman dead. Whew! What a mouthful! Hell hath no fury like a Goth Queen scorned…except maybe a Goth Queen with all the power of the Roman crown behind it. What ensues is a tale of sex, violence, cannibalism, rape and murder like none other, in vivid hues straight out of Taymor’s beautifully twisted imagination. She elevates the whole notion of revenge to Fellini-esque art. As for that perfect moment in a movie that I previously spoke? If I could give a clip from the film with out getting sacked or sued, I would, but I can’t. I will tell you to watch the movie. When you get to the moment where your heart aches for Lavinia, and you know that that scene will forever be burned into your memory, a moment so horrifying and simultaneously beautiful, you will know of what I mean.
The majority of Taymor’s work is visually stunning. Her fearless eye for mixing art and music with film, making her character’s lives bigger than life, you can see in this flick, or Frida, or Across the Universe. You can’t call her a prolific Director of movies, but what she does make is raw, beautiful and lasting.
That’s it for this week Fright Fiends, and if you have a perfect moment you would like to share, feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to know what you think I should be watching next. Til next week. -Rubyby