The Roman general Titus Andronicus (Hopkins) returns successfully from the wars with Tamora, Queen of the Goths (Lange), in chains. For good measure, he has her oldest son killed before her eyes and those of his brothers, which makes them thirst for revenge. Caesar has died and his two sons Saturninus (Cumming) and Bassianus (Frain) contend to replace him on the throne. Titus supports Saturninus, who frees Tamora and makes her empress. Tamora's sons rape Titus's daughter Lavinia (Fraser) and cut off her hands and pull out her tongue so she cannot identify them. They also kill her true love, Bassianus. Tamora has a black lover, Aaron the Moor, who glories in plots and murders. Things go from bloody to worse, as nearly everyone grasps for power and revenge. This was Shakespeare's first big hit, a revenge tragedy that is nearly a horror story for its time and mostly neglected today. Director Julie Taymor, fresh from her triumph with the huge Broadway hit "The Lion King," adapted and shot this 1999 film in Rome and Croatia with out-of-time elements (motorcycles, video games, pool), dream sequences, and much graphic violence as well as startling visual imagery. The principals perform mightily, especially Hopkins, and though viewers well versed in Shakespeare will find it a wonder, the average American filmgoer may find it a tedious and unremitting downer.
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The review of this Movie prepared by David Loftus