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MovieGlobe: Japan's Version of Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet (2007) Japan

Original Article by: Fateh Mirghani-Japan

I have just finished watching the masterpiece of Shakespeare” Romeo and Juliet “in its Japanese version.
The quality of the movie is great and the soundtrack, injected with a little Japanese folklore music, has given it a sensational dimension and Eastern fascination!
Basically, the theme of the movie remains the same as the original play, and that has been a particular Japanese notion in dealing with other nations’ cultural products. Part of the reason may lay in Japan's sensitivity to other nations’cultural products- given the long standing historical disputes with its neighbours, and part of it may lay in a fierce sense of homogeneity that has come to characterize Japan as an island nation-state since time immemorial. Thus the Japanese, unlike the Americans, don’t seem to have the temerity to ‘Japanize’ others’ cultural stuff.
The movie “Renaissance man”  can be cited as an example of American boldness. The movie is about a jobless man (Danny De Vito) who was offered a temporary teaching job in a military training base. He assigned his students, all of them are new military recruits, to Shakespearean stuff, such as the king's speech and part of Hamlet, including oxymoron. Although he succeeded into arousing their interest in the Bard (Shakespeare), yet the movie received many negative reviews from top critics: Shakespeare in the army? Hell, no. That in itself sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it? (LoL)!
I am no playwright or a movie critic; I just wanted to share my own impressions with you, your esteemed readers & the participants.
Romeo Must Be Handsome?
Synopsis: ("Romeo and Juliet" is about a female college student and an injured young man she meets on the street. They fall in love, not knowing that the girl's police detective father is in the midst of a manhunt to find the young man's physician father, who is wanted for murder.) From The Japan Times Online.
How Many Versions Are There of "Romeo and Juliet"?
There are over 36 US movies and TV shows bearing the name "Romeo and Juliet" and many more world-wide, most notable of which is the loosely based American musical "West Side Story" (1961) which starred Natalie Wood and George Chakiris and the 1968 British-Italian cinematic adaptation of the same name directed and co-written by Franco Zeffirelli. Both these films won multiple Academy Awards. The last big-buget version was Baz Luhrman's "Romeo + Juliet" starring Leonardo di Caprio and Clare Danes.

I would love to have verfied the existence of a Bollywood and an Egyptian version!!
"Romeo Must Die" (2000) the Andrzej Bartkowiak-directed martial arts film with a Romeo and Juliet-esque love story starring Jet Li and Aaliyah was deemed the worst version.
Wrote one reviewer: "The movie's premise is interesting enough, but the details, including Romeo as an ex-cop out for revenge on the people who murdered his brother, and Juliet as the daughter of the mobster who killed him, don't do the story justice."

The Japanese Version's Profile:
The film was a television movie shown on NTV 2007.
  • TV Movie: Romeo and Juliet
  • Genre: Drama, Entertainment
  • Cast: Takizawa Hideaki, Nagasawa Masami, Tanaka Misako, Yamashita Shinji, Miura Tomokazu
  • Director: Taro Otani
  • Writer: Yumiko Inoue
  • Network: NTV
  • Episode: 1
  • Release Date: April 7, 2007
  • Runtime:  1 hr 17mn
  • Language: Japanese (subtitled copies available)
  • Country: Japan
Watch Movie Here

A big thank you to Mr.Fatih Mirghani who wrote this article from Japan where he lives. 


    1. It's OK for anyone to interpret world classics.
      But did you know that Hollywood studios were either borrowing or ripping off Japanese plot-lines and sometimes even the aesthetic handling of Japanese movies.
      Take the western "The Magnificent Seven", then again "Ronin", a spy film. "The Lion King" was also Japanese. Lately, they plagiarized the Japanese violent movie "Battle Royle" to make "The Hunger Games" whose author kept denying she ripped off the Japanese movie which came out eight years before she wrote her book, which was cinematized later.
      Rick Richards


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