On Tuesday, February 16, the R&J Project opened its film festival with the controversial movie, The Bubble, which was followed by Baz Lurhmann’s Romeo & Juliet on February 23 and West Side Story on March 2. The R&J Project is a university-wide, multidisciplinary exploration of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet that will culminate in Theatre Fairfield’s new production of the play in Spring 2010.
Introducing The Bubble was librarian Philip Bahr. Bahr discussed the parallel themes between The Bubble and Romeo and Juliet, including the infatuation of love, the issue of feuding families, the stereotype of the hedonistic youth, and the ideas of sacrifice and fate.
Bahr emphasized the uniqueness of The Bubble in that it’s centered on the intimate relationship between an Israeli man and Palestinian man in Tel Aviv. The movie is intense, graphic, and sometimes uncomfortable, challenging our preconceived notions of what love looks like.
To further educate people on what it’s like to be homosexual, Bahr asked the heterosexual people in the audience to close their eyes and imagine growing up watching movies that never depicted a love relationship between a man and a woman. Then he asked the audience to imagine that time when you reached high school, and finally seeing that relationship conveyed in movies, but only as something that was funny and “clown-like.” Like the well-known movie, Brokeback Mountain, The Bubble depicts the homosexual relationship as neither comedic nor does it vilify the characters. The characters are three-dimensional, relatable, flawed, and essentially human. And the love between them was every bit as epic and tragic as the legendary Romeo and Juliet.
After the movie, there was a “Talk-Back” session with the audience led by:
- Rev. Mark P Scalese, S.J., Assistant Professor of Visual & Performing Arts
- Shawne Lomauro, Vice President of Alliance
- Matt Faber, LGBT Alumni Association
- Philip Bahr, Reference & Media Librarian
The audience was encouraged to voice their reactions to the movie, and discuss anything they noticed throughout the film. Collectively, the audience seemed surprised at how graphic the intimate scenes between the characters were, and how they were emotionally moved by the story. The audience appreciated how the film was not necessarily about being homosexual, but more about being in love.
In all, the opening of the R&J Film Festival was a thought-provoking way of incorporating the concepts of Romeo and Juliet into our more modern world, and a great opportunity to open up the discussion on widening the world’s narrow definition of love.
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