|Directed by||Julie Taymor|
|Screenplay by||Julie Taymor|
|Based on|| Titus Andronicus |
by William Shakespeare
|Edited by||Françoise Bonnot|
|Music by||Elliot Goldenthal|
|Distributed by|| Fox Searchlight Pictures (North America)|
Buena Vista International (United Kingdom and Ireland)
Medusa Distribuzione (Italy)
|Box office||$2.92 million|
Titus is a 1999 epic surrealist historical drama film directed and written by Julie Taymor in her directorial debut. Adapted from William Shakespeare's revenge tragedy Titus Andronicus , the movie stars Anthony Hopkins as the titular Roman general, chronicling his downfall after returning victorious from war. The film was co-produced with Jody Patton and Conchita Airoldi. The film was a co-production of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Italy; produced by Overseas Filmgroup and Clear Blue Sky Productions and released by Fox Searchlight Pictures.
A boy eating lunch in a 1950s-style kitchen plays war with his surrounding toys. A bomb blast outside the window frightens him under the table from where he is rescued and taken to an Amphitheatre, where an invisible audience cheers. The boy finds himself in the role of Young Lucius and watches as an army resembling the Terracotta Army enters; Romans under the command of Titus Andronicus, the general at the center of the play, return victorious from war. They bring back as spoils Tamora, Queen of the Goths, her sons, and Aaron the Moor. Titus sacrifices Tamora's eldest son, Alarbus, so the spirits of his 21 dead sons might be appeased. Tamora eloquently begs for the life of Alarbus, but Titus refuses her plea.
Caesar, the Emperor of Rome, dies. His sons Saturninus and Bassianus squabble over who will succeed him. The Tribune of the People, Marcus Andronicus, announces the people's choice for new emperor is his brother, Titus. He refuses the throne and hands it to the late emperor's eldest son Saturninus, much to the latter's delight. The new emperor states he will take Lavinia, Titus' daughter, as his bride, to honor and elevate the family. She is already betrothed to Saturninus' brother, Bassianus, who steals her away. Titus' surviving sons aid in the couple's run for the Pantheon, where they are to marry. Titus, angry with his sons because in his eyes they're being disloyal to Rome, kills his son Mutius as he defends the escape. The new emperor, Saturninus, dishonors Titus and marries Tamora instead. Tamora persuades the Emperor to feign forgiveness to Bassianus, Titus and his family and postpone punishment to a later day, thereby revealing her intention to avenge herself on all the Andronici.
During a hunting party the next day, Tamora's lover, Aaron the Moor, meets Tamora's remaining sons, the sadistic Chiron and Demetrius. The two argue over which should take sexual advantage of the newly-wed Lavinia. Aaron easily persuades them to ambush Bassianus and kill him in the presence of Tamora and Lavinia, in order to have their way with her. Lavinia begs Tamora to stop her sons, but Tamora refuses. Chiron and Demetrius throw Bassianus' body in a pit, as Aaron directed them, then take Lavinia away and rape her. To keep her from revealing what she saw and endured, they cut out her tongue as well as her hands, replacing them with tree branches. When Marcus discovers her, he begs her to reveal the identity of her assailants; Lavinia leans towards the camera and opens her bloodied mouth in a silent scream.
Aaron frames Titus' sons Martius and Quintus and for the murder of Bassianus with a forged letter outlining their plan to kill him. Angry, the Emperor arrests them. Later on, Marcus takes Lavinia to her father, who's overcome with grief. He and his remaining son Lucius begged for the lives of Martius and Quintus, but the two are found guilty and are marched off to execution. Aaron enters, and tells Titus, Lucius, and Marcus the emperor will spare the prisoners if one of the three sacrifices a hand. Each demands the right to do so. Titus has Aaron cut off his (Titus's) left hand and take it to the emperor. Aaron's story is revealed to have been false, as a messenger brings Titus the heads of his sons and his own severed hand. In Renaissance semiotics, the hand is a representation of political and personal agency. With his hand chopped off, Titus has truly lost power.Desperate for revenge, Titus orders Lucius to flee Rome and raise an army among their former enemy, the Goths.
Titus' grandson (Lucius' son and the boy from the opening), who helped Titus read to Lavinia, complains she will not leave his books alone. In the book, she indicates to Titus and Marcus the story of Philomela, in which a similarly mute victim "wrote" the name of her wrongdoer. Marcus gives her a stick to hold with her mouth and stumps. She writes the names of her attackers on the ground. Titus vows revenge. Feigning madness, he ties written prayers for justice to arrows and commands his kinsmen to aim them at the sky so they may reach the gods. Understanding the method in Titus' "madness", Marcus directs the arrows to land inside the palace of Saturninus, who is enraged by this added to the fact Lucius is at the gates of Rome with an army of Goths.
Tamora delivers a mixed-race child, fathered by Aaron. To hide his affair from the Emperor, Aaron kills the nurse and flees with the baby. Lucius, marching on Rome with an army of Goths, captures Aaron and threatens to hang the infant. To save the baby, Aaron reveals the entire plot to Lucius, relishing every murder, rape and dismemberment.
Tamora, convinced of Titus' madness, approaches him along with her two sons, dressed as the spirits of Revenge, Murder, and Rape. She tells Titus she (as a supernatural spirit) will grant him revenge if he will convince Lucius to stop attacking Rome. Titus agrees, sending Marcus to invite Lucius to a feast. "Revenge" offers to invite the Emperor and Tamora and is about to leave, but Titus insists "Rape" and "Murder" stay with him. She agrees. When she leaves, Titus' servants bind Chiron and Demetrius. Titus cuts their throats, while Lavinia holds a basin with her stumps to catch their blood. He plans to cook them into a pie for their mother.
The next day, during the feast at his house, Lavinia enters the dining room. Titus asks Saturninus whether a father should kill his daughter if she is raped. When the Emperor agrees, Titus snaps Lavinia's neck, to the horror of the dinner guests, and tells Saturninus what Tamora's sons did. When Saturninus demands Chiron and Demetrius be brought before him, Titus reveals they were in the pie Tamora enjoyed, and kills Tamora. Saturninus kills Titus after which Lucius kills Saturninus to avenge his father's death.
Back in the Roman Arena, Lucius tells his family's story to the people and is proclaimed Emperor. He orders his father Titus and sister Lavinia to be buried in the family monuments, Saturninus be given a proper burial, Tamora's body to be thrown to the wild beasts, and Aaron be buried chest-deep and left to die of thirst and starvation. Aaron is unrepentant to the end. Young Lucius, who appears to have lost his taste for violence after witnessing the bloody cycle of revenge, picks up Aaron's child and carries him away into the sunrise.
Apart from the deliberate anachronisms, the film follows the play quite closely. One of the experimental concepts in the film was that the character of Young Lucius (Titus' grandson) is initially introduced as a boy from the present who finds himself transported to the fantastical reality of the film. At the beginning of the film, his toy soldiers turn into Titus' Roman army. At the end, when Titus' son Lucius avenges his father by condemning the villainous Aaron to a painful death, the boy takes pity on Aaron's infant son, carrying him away from the violence as he walks slowly into the sunrise. This ending is perhaps more positive than the ending of other productions of the play, including Taymor's stage production, in which Young Lucius is fixated upon the "tiny black coffin" holding the dead infant.
Julie Taymor took Shakespeare's script, added various linking scenes without dialogue (while cutting some of the text) and set the play in an anachronistic fantasy world that uses locations, costumes and imagery from many periods of history, including Ancient Rome and Mussolini's Italy, to give the impression of a Roman Empire that survived into the modern era. The opening scenes commence with a heavily choreographed triumphal march of the Roman troops, complete with motorcycle outriders. The selection of music is similarly diverse.
Principal photography took place at the Cinecittà studios in Rome and on location at various historic monuments. The arena that appears at the beginning and ending of the film is the Arena in Pula, Croatia. The Emperor's palace is represented by the Fascist Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana in Rome. Some shots of tunnels and ruins were filmed at Hadrian's Villa in Rome. The forest scenes were shot at Manziana, near Rome. Titus' house is represented by an old house near an aqueduct in Rome, and the streets where he rounds up his conspirators are the Roman Ghetto.
The score to the film was created by Taymor's long-time friend and partner Elliot Goldenthal and is a typical Goldenthal soundtrack with an epic, inventive and dissonant feel.
The film was a box office bomb, earning only $22,313 on its opening weekend due to its limited release in only two theaters, ranking number 57 in the box office.Its widest release in the US was only in 35 theaters, causing the film to earn only $2,007,290 in North America. Overseas, the film grossed $252,390 in Chile, Mexico, and Spain, culminating in a worldwide total of $2,920,616.
Titus received a mixed response from critics. It holds a 57% score on Metacritic based on reviews from 29 critics indicating "Mixed or average reviews".Rotten Tomatoes reports a 68% approval rating based on 75 reviews with a weighted average of 6.54/10. The site's consensus reads: "The movie stretches too long to be entertaining despite a strong cast."
Stephen Holden of The New York Times gave the film a positive review, making it a "Critic's Pick".Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times also praised Titus and gave it three and a half out of four stars, referring to the source material as "the least of Shakespeare's tragedies" and concluding, "Anyone who doesn't enjoy this film for what it is must explain: How could it be more? This is the film Shakespeare's play deserves, and perhaps even a little more."
Scott Tobias of The A.V. Club wrote that "Titus strikes a near-impossible balance between magnificently cracked high camp and a more serious statement about corruption and the cycle of violence" and that "[Taymor's] forceful adaptation builds to a glorious payoff and Cumming's flamboyant performance alone—he's a sort of fascist Pee-wee Herman—seems enough to ensure Titus lasting cult status."
Robin Askew wrote in a 2016 article for Bristol24-7 that the film is "brilliant and daring if under-appreciated."[ citation needed ]
The film received one nomination at the 72nd Academy Awards for Best Costume Design, but lost to Topsy-Turvy .
According to Roman tradition, Lucretia, anglicized as Lucrece, was a noblewoman in ancient Rome, whose rape by Sextus Tarquinius (Tarquin) and subsequent suicide precipitated a rebellion that overthrew the Roman monarchy and led to the transition of Roman government from a kingdom to a republic. The incident kindled the flames of dissatisfaction over the tyrannical methods of Tarquin's father, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, the last king of Rome. As a result, the prominent families instituted a republic, drove the extensive royal family of Tarquin from Rome, and successfully defended the republic against attempted Etruscan and Latin intervention.
Titus Andronicus is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1588 and 1593. It is thought to be Shakespeare's first tragedy and is often seen as his attempt to emulate the violent and bloody revenge plays of his contemporaries, which were extremely popular with audiences throughout the 16th century.
In Greek mythology, Tereus was a Thracian king, the son of Ares and the naiad Bistonis. He was the brother of Dryas. Tereus was the husband of the Athenian princess Procne and the father of Itys.
In Roman mythology, Lavinia is the daughter of Latinus and Amata, and the last wife of Aeneas.
Verginia, or Virginia, was the subject of a story of ancient Rome, related in Livy's Ab Urbe Condita.
The Rape of Lucrece (1594) is a narrative poem by William Shakespeare about the legendary Roman noblewoman Lucretia. In his previous narrative poem, Venus and Adonis (1593), Shakespeare had included a dedicatory letter to his patron, the Earl of Southampton, in which he promised to compose a "graver labour". Accordingly, The Rape of Lucrece has a serious tone throughout.
The revenge tragedy, or revenge play, is a dramatic genre in which the protagonist seeks revenge for an imagined or actual injury. The term revenge tragedy was first introduced in 1900 by A. H. Thorndike to label a class of plays written in the late Elizabethan and early Jacobean eras.
Revenge tragedy is a theoretical genre, in which the principal theme is revenge and revenge's fatal consequences. Formally established by American educator Ashley H. Thorndike in his 1902 article "The Relations of Hamlet to Contemporary Revenge Plays," a revenge tragedy documents the progress of the protagonist's revenge plot and often leads to the demise of both the murderers and the avenger himself.
Saturninus may refer to:
Chiron is a famous centaur from Greek mythology.
Tamara is a female given name most commonly derived from the Biblical name "Tamar" and in the Arabic from the singular form "Tamra" and the plural form "Tamar", meaning in both Hebrew and Arabic the generic name of the fruit "date", "date palm" or "palm tree".
Quintus Volusius Saturninus was a Roman Senator who lived in the Roman Empire during the Principate. He was consul in the year 56 with Publius Cornelius Scipio as his colleague.
Titus is the original soundtrack to the 1999 motion picture Titus. Elliot Goldenthal wrote the score for the film, an adaptation of Shakespeare's first, and bloodiest, tragedy Titus Andronicus; written and directed by Julie Taymor, Goldenthal's long-time friend and partner. The only non-Goldenthal piece is an old Italian song called "Vivere" performed by Italian singer Carlo Buti.
The Peacham drawing, or 'Longleat manuscript', is the only surviving contemporary Shakespearean illustration, now in the library of the Marquess of Bath at Longleat in Wiltshire. The drawing appears to depict a performance of Titus Andronicus, under which is quoted some dialogue. Eugene M. Waith argues of the illustration that "the gestures and costumes give us a more vivid impression of the visual impact of Elizabethan acting than we get from any other source."
Although traditionally Titus Andronicus has been seen as one of Shakespeare's least respected plays, its fortunes have changed somewhat in the latter half of the twentieth century, with numerous scholars arguing that the play is more accomplished than has hitherto been allowed for. In particular, scholars have argued that the play is far more thematically complex than has traditionally been thought, and features profound insights into ancient Rome, Elizabethan society, and the human condition. Such scholars tend to argue that these previously unacknowledged insights have only become apparent during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries as only now has the ultraviolent content of the play achieved a sense of relevance. For example, in his 1987 edition of the play for the Contemporary Shakespeare series, A.L. Rowse writes; "in the civilised Victorian age the play could not be performed because it could not be believed. Such is the horror of our own age, with the appalling barbarities of prison camps and resistance movements paralleling the torture and mutilation and feeding on human flesh of the play, that it has ceased to be improbable." Similarly, director Julie Taymor, who staged a production Off-Broadway in 1994 and directed a film version in 1999, says she was drawn to the play because she found it to be the most "relevant of Shakespeare's plays for the modern era". She feels that the play has more relevance for contemporary audiences than it had for the Victorians; "it seems like a play written for today, it reeks of now." Because of this newfound relevance, previously unrecognised thematic strands have thus come to the forefront.
Titus Andronicus is the main character and tragic hero in William Shakespeare's tragedy of the same name, Titus Andronicus. Titus is a Roman nobleman and a general in the war who distinguished himself in ten years of service against the Goths. Despite his exemplary service the war's toll on him is sufficient that he declined the emperorship. Nonetheless, he begins the play as an exemplary citizen. However, faith in the traditions of the Roman system of government eventually leads to his death, as others seek revenge.
"The Lamentable and Tragical History of Titus Andronicus,"also called"Titus Andronicus' Complaint," is a ballad from the 17th century about the fictional Roman general, Titus, and his revenge cycle with the Queen of the Goths. Events in the ballad take place near the end of the Roman Empire, and the narrative of the ballad parallels the plot of William Shakespeare's play Titus Andronicus. Scholarly debate exists as to which text may have existed first, the ballad or the play. The ballad itself was first entered on the Stationers' Register in 1594, the same year the play was entered. Surviving copies of the ballad can be found in the British Library, in the Huntington Library, and at Magdalene College, Cambridge. Online copies of the facsimiles are also available for public consumption at sites such as the English Broadside Ballad Archive.