[Originally published in March, 2012.]
The magic, they say, happens after the lights dim and the images begin to flicker on the screen. In this case, though, for most, there would be little magic as the story was already known. But for others who were young like me, black like me, and torn asunder by my queer loins like me, the movie represented the quintessential combination of anticipation and dread.
Somehow viewing Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet at some now-forgotten movie house became a ritual for the English classes at my school. Seems like we did it at least twice, if not three times. Field trips were commonplace at this school. Once a few of the science classes went to the scene of a recently extinguished wildfire to observe how some plants have adapted to thrive and propagate in such a harsh environment. We had no gym, so for physical ed sometimes we took a quick hop to a local skating rink and worked out to the Stones’ “Start Me Up” or other hits of the day. Sometimes we went to Griffith Park and hiked in the hills. Once a group of us made it all the way to the Observatory — and got in big trouble upon our return for making the group late getting back to school because of our extended sojourn. The R & J trip saw the English teachers leading the pack. I expect we had read the famous tragedy aloud beforehand in class, though I can’t recall now. We often read the classics aloud in class, each of us taking parts.
The repeat viewing I do recall. Though I’m sure most were glad to get away from the campus and do something different, that didn’t stop them from grumbling about seeing such a “nerdy” film. Star Wars had already changed the film landscape by that point, so expectations for film watching were correspondingly higher. Nope! my English teacher declared with her characteristic, ever-present smile, we’re watching a classic. I didn’t mind the trip or the film and remembered it from the year before, though a phantom menace did shadow me, which I kept closely guarded.
[Read the rest here.]
© 2013, gar. All rights reserved.