Critical Review of a Screen Adaptation of Shakespeare : Julie Taymor's Titus

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ESSAY II : Critical review of a screen adaptation of Shakespeare : Julie Taymor's Titus Of all Shakespeare plays, one could argue that Titus Andronicus is the most violent and bloody one. It is among his earliest tragedies and can thus be considered to have set the scene for the following revenge plays he would later write. Titus Andronicus is a play in which violent acts such as murder and mutilation abund.On the subject, Harold Bloom said that "it is a blowup, an explosion of rancid irony carried well past the limits of parody" (Bloom, p. 72). When Julie Taymor decided to make a cinematic adaptation of Titus at the end of the nineties, she brought power and life to what is certainly one of the "most filmic of all Shakespeare's plays [...] a play which resembles Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs (1992) or Pulp Fiction (1994) in its unnerving blend of violence and humour" (Cartmell, p. 11). "The perceiving eye absorbs the performance even as the mind's eye attends to text." (Crowl, p.3). Consequently, the question that now arises is to determine to what extent Titus's cinematic adaptation makes a difference to the understanding of the play. It goes without saying that the success of a movie depends on the way it is received by the audience. And, given that Titus was quite critically acclaimed, one could assert that Taymor made a judicious choice dealing with that particular play. The success of the adaptation resides in the fact that Taymor did not just settle for a mere faithful screen translation. Nor did she modernize the whole work. On the contrary, she managed to strike the right balance between the Modern and the Ancient elements so that the movie provides the viewer with "what French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu has described as 'cultural capital' [...] a quick and easy way to become 'cultured'." (Cartmell, p. 3) and at the same time, force him to draw a

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