Titus, angry with his sons because in his eyes they're being disloyal to Rome, kills his son Mutius as he defends the escape. Spurned by his attempts at claiming Lavinia as his new bride, he forsakes the Andronicus family and turns instead to Tamora as his new bride. He plans to a pie for their mother. Not only does this technique revive some of the freshness of these overly familiar works, but these strange, otherworldly settings actually render more poetic the heightened unreality of Shakespeare's dialogue. He declines the proffered emperor's crown, nominating Saturninus, the last ruler's venal elder son. Marcus gives her a stick to hold with her mouth and stumps.
Later on, Marcus takes Lavinia to her father, who's overcome with grief. The new emperor, Saturninus, dishonors Titus and marries Tamora instead. In Renaissance semiotics, the hand is a representation of political and personal agency. The effect of all this modernization may be unsettling and off-putting to the Shakespearean purist, yet, in the case of all four of these films, the directorial judgment has paid off handsomely. To keep her from revealing what she saw and endured, they cut out her tongue as well as her hands, replacing them with tree branches.
Back in the Roman Arena, Lucius tells his family's story to the people and is proclaimed Emperor. At the end, when Titus' son Lucius avenges his father by condemning the villainous Aaron to a painful death, the boy takes pity on Aaron's infant son, carrying him away from the violence as he walks slowly into the sunrise. He orders the eldest hewn to appease the Roman dead. Saturninus marries the honey-tongued Tamora, who vows vengeance against Titus. The ensuing maelstrom serves up tongues, hands, rape, adultery, racism, and Goth-meat pie. When Bassianus, Lavinia, and Titus's sons flee in protest, Titus stands against them and slays one of his own. An army resembling the enters; Romans under the command of , the general at the center of the play, return victorious from war.
Aaron is unrepentant to the end. His sons Saturninus and Bassianus squabble over who will succeed him. Visually, this widescreen film is a stunner. Tamora persuades the Emperor to feign forgiveness to Bassianus, Titus and his family and postpone punishment to a later day, thereby revealing her intention to avenge herself on all the Andronici. When Saturninus demands Chiron and Demetrius be brought before him, Titus reveals they were in the pie Tamora enjoyed, and kills Tamora. Each demands the right to do so.
The opening scenes commence with a heavily choreographed triumphal march of the Roman troops, complete with motorcycle outriders. When the Emperor agrees, Titus snaps Lavinia's neck, to the horror of the dinner guests, and tells Saturninus what Tamora's sons did. Tamora delivers a mixed-race child, fathered by Aaron. Chiron and Demetrius throw Bassianus' body in a pit, as Aaron directed them, then take Lavinia away and rape her. The of the People, Marcus Andronicus, announces the people's choice for new emperor is his brother, Titus. A bomb blast outside the window frightens him under the table from where he is rescued and taken to an , where an invisible audience cheers.
Taymor matches the starkness of the drama with a concomitant visual design, often grouping her characters in studied compositions set in bold relief against an expansive, dominating sky. During a hunting party the next day, Tamora's lover, Aaron the Moor, meets Tamora's sons Chiron and Demetrius. At the end of the story, for instance, many of the characters seem to walk right into their deaths in ways that defy credibility. When Bassianus, Lavinia, and Titus's sons flee in protest, Titus stands against them and slays one of his own. Tamora, convinced of Titus' , approaches him along with her two sons, dressed as the spirits of , , and. Saturninus, to spite his brother Bassianus, demands the hand of Lavinia, Titus's daughter.
Titus cuts their throats, while Lavinia holds a basin with her stumps to catch their blood. Titus is also a man who can, without a twinge of conscience, kill a son he feels has betrayed him and disembowel a captive despite the pleas of his desperate mother, yet, at the same time, show mercy to the latter's family, humbly refuse the power offered him, and break down in heartbroken despair at the executions of his sons and the sight of his own beloved daughter left tongueless and handless by those very same people he has seen fit to spare. Caesar, the Emperor of Rome, dies. To save the baby, Aaron reveals the entire plot to Lucius, relishing every murder, rape and dismemberment. Titus' grandson Lucius' son and the boy from the opening , who helped Titus read to Lavinia, complains she will not leave his books alone. Titus' surviving sons aid in the couple's run for the Pantheon, where they are to marry. .
He orders his father Titus and sister Lavinia to be buried in the family monuments, Saturninus be given a proper burial, Tamora's body to be thrown to the wild beasts, and Aaron be buried chest-deep and left to die of thirst and starvation. The fact that this is one of Shakespeare's earliest works is evident in the undisciplined plotting and the emphasis on sensationalism at the expense of the powerful themes that would be developed more fully in those later plays with which we are all familiar. The next day, during the feast at his house, Lavinia enters the dining room. The arena that appears at the beginning and ending of the film is the in ,. The ensuing maelstrom serves up tongues, hands, rape, adultery, racism, and Goth-meat pie. In this shocking tale of betrayal, vengeance and rampant brutality, heads, tongues and limbs are lopped off with stunning regularity and it is a measure of Julie Taymor's skill as a director and her grasp of the shocking nature of the material that, even in this day and age when we have become so inured and jaded in the area of screen violence, we are truly shaken by the work's cruelty and ugliness. Lavinia begs Tamora to stop her sons, but Tamora refuses.
Victorious general, Titus Andronicus, returns to Rome with hostages: Tamora queen of the Goths and her sons. Yet, Taymor occasionally injects scenes of daring black comedy into the proceedings, as when Titus and his brother carry away the heads of his sons contained in glass jars while his own daughter, who has had her own hands chopped off in a vicious rape, carries Titus' own dismembered hand in her teeth! She tells Titus she as a supernatural spirit will grant him revenge if he will convince Lucius to stop attacking Rome. Titus has Aaron cut off his Titus's left hand and take it to the emperor. Starring and , it was the directorial debut of , who co-produced with Jody Patton and Conchita Airoldi, and wrote the screenplay. Young Lucius picks up Aaron's child and carries him away into the sunrise. Titus' house is represented by an old house near an in Rome, and the streets where he rounds up his conspirators are the.
The film was produced by Overseas Filmgroup and Clear Blue Sky Productions and released by. Angry, the Emperor arrests them. There's irony in which two sons survive. One of the experimental concepts in the film was that the character of Young Lucius Titus' grandson is initially introduced as a boy from the present who finds himself transported to the fantastical reality of the film. The two argue over which should take sexual advantage of the newly-wed Lavinia. We sense that Shakespeare may not yet have developed the playwright's gift for bringing all his elements together to create a satisfying resolution.