Blu-ray Review “Titus (1999)”

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lange, Alan Cumming, Colm Frere, Laura Fraser, Harry Lennix, Jonathan Rhys
Directed By: Julie Taymor
Distributed by: Twilight Time
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 162 minutes
Release Date: January 21, 2014

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

I remember seeing “Titus” back in 1999 in some little “trendy” theater in NYC since it never received a wide release. It really opened me up to the world of William Shakespeare and his tragedy books. It also introduced me to the wonderful Julie Taymor, who is such a visual director that should be making every film being released, period. She has such a unique way of bringing a film to life, also see for example “Across the Universe”. I haven’t seen this film in years and it still managed to blow to away with its visual experience. A must have for an Shakespeare fan!

Official Premise: Julie Taymor’s stunningly cinematic adaptation of William Shakespeare’s first tragedy, Titus (1999), stars Anthony Hopkins as a noble but misguided Roman general who finds himself ensnared in an unwinnable war of vengeance with an implacable barbarian queen (Jessica Lange). With its time-bending mix of elements from Ancient Rome, Fascist Italy, Fifties America, and Punk Britain, this radical reimagining of a theatrical classic offers a dark vision of violence, murder, rape, and revenge.

This Blu-ray release is an Screen Archives Entertainment Exclusive and is a Limited Edition release with only 3000 copies produced. Since I mentioned that this film is so visual, I was really hoping that the 1080p transfer with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 rocked…and boy did it. I can’t believe this film has not received a Blu-ray release prior since this is a must watch on this format. Same goes with the amazing, heart-pounding DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, which is just fantastic. Elliot Goldenthal’s haunting score also shines quite well here.

Twilight Time released this Blu-ray with jam-packed with great special features. First we get an amazing Isolated Score Track. There are three fantastic audio commentary tracks included. The first is with Director Julie Taymor, which focuses on the production. Next is with composer Elliot Goldenthal and since the score is so important for this film it is a great listen. Lastly, the next track is with Actors Anthony Hopkins and Harry Lennix, which is a little dryer but still a great listen for hardcore films of this film.

If all those commentary track aren’t good enough for you we still have more. There is a really solid 50-minute behind-the-scenes documentary looking into the making of “Titus”. There is an interesting 30-minute excerpt Q&A with Julie Taymor following a screening at Columbia University. There is another short behind-the-scenes look at the visual sequences with “Penny Arcade Nightmares”. Lastly there are Trailers and TV Spots rounding out the extras. After you enjoy the the film, be sure to check out the extensive Julie Kirgo liner notes and film art included as well.