When I Shall Die? When *I* Shall Die?

UPDATE: A little Googling showed me a rather odd thing – there’s a reference on Folger, of all places, to the line “When I shall die.”  I’m going to assume *that* is not a mistake, and that it is some variation in the text that, however odd, is still legitimate.  I still contend it makes no sense, though.  Perhaps a case for the “original spelling” folks, where it sounds like I, but is supposed to mean he, and it’s become subject to interpretation?  I see several additional references, including No Fear Shakespeare, that do the I thing, too. So last night I’m channel surfing with the Mrs., and Luhrman’s Romeo+Juliet shows up.  Even better, it’s the big Mercutio death scene.  So, we watch.  I’m not a fan of the directorial style, or the overly violent bits, but more on that in a second. Before you know it we’ve switch to Clare Danes, who starts in with a very adorable version of “When I shall die, cut him out in little stars, and he will make the face of heaven…..” Wait, I’m sorry, what did she just say?  Rewind.  Thanks Tivo. “When I shall die…”  Rewind. “When I shall die…” Pause. It’s when HE shall die!  How could that be missed???  The speech makes no sense otherwise! This is hardly a throwaway line.  It’s a big speech, and the camera is right in Juliet’s face.  She’s the only one on screen.  Why in the world wouldn’t some script checker say “Umm….it’s when *he* shall die, Clare.  Take it again.” That’s not the only place I saw a major goof.  During Capulet’s tirade against Juliet, I could swear (I did not rewind) that he said “Doth she not count her blest, unworthy as she is, that we have wrought so worthy a gentleman to be her bride?”  That’s just silly.  It’s “bridegroom.”   I do have to say, though – I love this stuff, I do, I do, I really do.  There’s no doubt that this is a pretty wild interpretation.  You have to come at it as its own story.  For instance the chase scene at the end – the cops, led by the Prince, have gotten word that Romeo is coming back to Verona.  He’s a wanted criminal.  So they go hunting for him, with helicopters and all.  It’s actually a pretty cool ending that really stresses the lengths to which Romeo will go, to be with his lost love.  There’s lots of screaming, but that’s the nature of the movie.  Everybody’s intense, all the time.  Small lines like “Tempt not a desperate man!” really come to life when Romeo’s got a hostage.

11 thoughts on “When I Shall Die? When *I* Shall Die?

  1. That first one is quite the mistake! I can’t believe no one caught that. As for Capulet’s speech, the text written is actually “bride,” not “bridegroom.” Sort of odd sounding but thats what Shakespeare gave us!

    I should watch this movie again. It has been a long while since my last viewing. I have my complaints about it, but it’s still entertaining.

  2. The standard public domain text I use has it “bridegroom”. Unfortunately I have no way of telling if this is folio or quarto or what. Or, god help us, an author making changes on his own. *shudder*

  3. I LOVE Luhrman’s interpretations in this movie (even if all of his films leave me feeling slightly sea sick).

    I think “bride” might have been slang for “bridegroom.” I’m not 100% positive on that though

  4. First Folio says “when I shall die” and also “bridegroom.” But the Penguin edition that I’m looking at only says “bride.” I’ll have to look at a quarto sometime and see what it says.

  5. Jeez! That’s a huge mistake.

    The primary reason I frequently cite “Romeo + Juliet” as my favorite movie adaptation of a Shakespeare play is that I saw so many of my classmates turned on to Shakespeare (and, let’s face it, anything before 1800) by its interpretation. It really highlights how iambic pentameter can sound like normal speech, and how modern and fresh the stories Shakespeare tells can be. Helps convince young people that they aren’t dry. 🙂

  6. Um, no mistake at all – It does make sense “when I shall die” – women have climaxes as well and Juliet knows it. Don’t ignore her sensuality, it’s a huge part of the play.

  7. Arden Edition uses ‘When I shall die’ and explains this with ‘sexual ecstasy in die may be suggested by a firework of little stars and Juliet’s eager anticipation of her wedding night’.

    Seems that ‘he’ is from Q4.

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