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Taymor's Titus and Violence

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 01:24 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 42.6 
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Reacting to Violence as an Audience

Violent films, even of the most basic construction, share the common goal of attracting the attention of viewers in a way that leaves an impression.   As viewers become more and more desensitized to images of violence, though, it is more and more difficult for directors to achieve that goal.   For Julie Taymor, in her film “Titus,” violence was only a part of the overall impression she wanted to give her audiences.   In the film, violence is used to catch the audience’s attention by way of shock value, but also through other factors.   With the addition and extension of several scenes, and a focus on modern influence, we as audience members are able to impart our own judgment on the larger themes that coincide with the violence that was written by Shakespeare and interpreted by Taymor.   The context and deeper implications of violence direct the focus to the impact of violence on the individual.   As a result, the audience is forced to actively participate in the film through personal evaluations of a culturally acquired numbness to violence, and the consequential impact on the way individuals operate within that culture.  

Because of her strict adherence to Shakespeare’s text and a largely historical setting, Taymor was able to incorporate new and modern aspects to the film without altering the intention of its original author, instilling her own ideas about violence and its impact.   Most notably of these additions is the manipulation of the role of young Lucius.   In the film, it is elevated to a level such that he is able to represent society’s reaction to violence, and the profound impact that experiencing violence can have on people, particularly children.   Throughout the film, young Lucius undergoes a progression from innocence to passive observer, to finally knowledge and decisive action.   When he is first thrown into the world of Titus, he is carried into the colosseum by the clown, tears...


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