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movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Titus

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lange
Director: Julie Taymor
Rated: NR
RunTime: 140 Minutes
Release Date: February 2000
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Laura Fraser, Angus McFadyen, James Frain, Kenny Doughty, Colm Feore, Harry J. Lennix, Alan Cumming, Osheen Jones

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Review by Susan Granger
2½ stars out of 4

Julie Taymor, who received both critical and popular acclaim for her Broadway version of Disney's The Lion King, makes her film debut with a curious adaptation of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, one of the Bard's least successful plays. It's a graphic, grisly, gruesome orgy of vengeance, revolving around Titus, a proud but aging Roman general, played by Anthony Hopkins, who returns home in triumph circa. 400 A.D. after conquering the Goths to crown the new Emperor Saturninus (Alan Cumming). His prized gift to the new ruler is Tamora (Jessica Lange), Queen of the Goths, whom the depraved Saturninus impetuously marries - after being scorned by Titus's only daughter (Laura Fraser). Along with her secret lover, a villainous Moor (Harry Lennix), and her two punkster sons (Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Matthew Rhys), the furious Tamara then schemes to wreak a crafty revenge on Titus and his family for the ritual death of her oldest son at Titus' hands. Cinematically, Taymor idiosyncratically links this historical epic of political intrigue with the 20th century by incorporating a contemporary lad (Osheen Jones) playing with toy soldiers. Working with production designer Dante Ferretti, costumer Milena Canonero and cinematographer Luciano Tovoli, the inventive Taymor sets out a defiant, dizzying visual feast, crowned by a repulsive, cannibalistic banquet that could have been created by Hannibal Lechter - and it's impressively scored by Elliot Goldenthal. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Titus is a perversely stylistic, surreal 6. It's a bold, bizarre bloodbath, giving us only fleeting glimpses of the tragic characters who - in later Shakespearean plays - evolve into King Lear, Lady Macbeth, and Iago.

Copyright 1999 Susan Granger

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