Titus (1999)

Reviewer: Shannon H.
William Shakespeare wrote plays "for all ages." His stories and fables still apply today. They can be funny, romantic, heart-breaking, or downright nasty. Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus is one of those nasty plays where revenge was the order of the day (the characters put Hamlet to shame). It was remade into an art film in 1999 titled Titus and directed by Julie Taymor. It's set in a time era combining the future with the ancient past (think Julius Caesar waving to crowds in a motorcade). Titus (Anthony Hopkins) comes home victorious after winning a war against the Goths. He brings home four captives, Queen Tamora (Jessica Lange), and her three grown sons. Titus lets them go on one condition: that he slay Tamora's eldest son, which he does and later shows them his entrails. Tamora and her sons are enraged at Titus' cruelty and heartlessness despite the fact that they are being let go.
The previous Caesar has died, and to spite his brother Bassianus, Titus decides to name someone as the next ruler of Rome: Saturninus (Alan Cumming), the son of one of the former Roman rulers. Saturninus is quite evil and cunning, with a sick mind, and spends his nights having lavish sexual parties and employing the services of Tamora as one of his accomplices, as well as his lover. Titus' mistake of giving the authority to Saturninus quickly becomes bigger and bigger as his daughter Lavinia is raped by Tamora's two sons, Chiron and Demetrius. Tamora allies with Saturninus by marrying him while sleeping with another man, Aaron, who is also vile and wicked as Tamora.

This film is very anti-Christian. Rape, revenge, backstabbing, infidelity, and murder run rampant. Titus is portrayed as a power-hungry individual willing to do anything to seek revenge; likewise for Tamora and Saturninus. It teaches nothing except that power binges will only hurt others in the end. Christians should be advised to avoid it all costs. It was not enjoyable due to the excessive violent and sexual content. The way Julie Taymor made the film was sheer genius, but its content is not morally acceptable. Unfortunately, there are hardly any other versions of Titus Andronicus that would make a better substitute for this cinematic bloodbath.


Sexual Content:

We see a party being thrown at Saturninus' palace where guests are seen making out, fondling, sleeping with each other, etc. On the walls of Saturninus' palace are sexual paintings of men. Aaron and Tamora fool around in the forest while in a hunting party (both are clothed, but this scene is a little extreme). It's implied that Chiron and Demetrius raped Titus' virginal daughter Lavinia (we don't see this happening). Saturninus and Tamora are seen naked in bed, with resulting nudity of breasts and backsides; there's backside nudity on another occasion.


Profanity is limited to Shakespearean insults.


Titus has Tamora's eldest son killed, and his entrails are served to her afterward. Chiron and Demetrius chop off the hands of Lavinia when they rape her (unseen). Titus has his hand cut off with a meat cleaver (we don't see the act, but we hear him scream). Several characters meet a very violent and gruesome demise. Chiron and Demetrius are killed by Titus. Their meat is baked in a pie and served to Tamora during a dinner party (think Hannibal Lecter sans the Chianti and the fava beans). The aforementioned dinner party turns out to be a gruesome bloodbath where characters are either stabbed to death or their throats are slashed.



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