Julie Taymor’s Titus Is a TV-Lover’s Dream

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Titus, the 1999 movie starring Anthony Hopkins in the eponymous role, is one of my favorite movies, and there are a slew of reasons to recommend it. Based on Shakespeare’s early play Titus Andronicus and directed by Julie Taymor (most well-known for Broadway’s The Lion King), it is a highly stylized visual and aural delight, replete with over-the-top violence and dark humor; while Taymor has fumbled with some of her subsequent films (namely, the Beatles-inspired mess that was Across the Universe and, to a lesser extent, the surprisingly dull The Tempest), she hits all the right notes with Titus. It also features a stellar cast, many of whom currently appear (or were recently featured) on some of TV’s most popular and critically acclaimed shows. So if the promise of blood, revenge, orgies, and what one might term “Shakespearean camp” isn’t enough to convince you that Titus is well worth your time, perhaps the cast list will:

 

Jessica Lange (American Horror Story) as Titus’s adversary, the Goth queen Tamora:

 

Jessica Titus

Elsa Mars actually might wear that bustier.

 

Alan Cumming (The Good Wife) as the sleazy king Saturninus:

 

Alan Titus

It’s a Barcalounger on steroids.

 

Matthew Rhys (The Americans) and Jonathan Rhys Myers (Dracula, The Tudors), as Tamora’s horrible sons, Demetrius and Chiron:

 

Matthew JRM Titus

They love plastic pants and sadism.

 

Harry Lennix (The Blacklist) as the scheming Aaron:

 

Harry Titus

He’s concocting something dastardly right now.

 

Laura Fraser (Breaking Bad) and James Frain (Intruders, True Blood, and almost every series out there) as Titus’s gentle daughter, Lavinia, and her beloved, Bassianus:

 

Laura and James Titus

Kissing, not murdering meth competitors or members of Qui Reverti.

 

 

In addition to teasing the merits of Titus, this list also serves as a reminder of the amazing talent that graces our TV screens, at a time when the quality of TV programming rivals—and sometimes eclipses—that of movies.

 

This movie, however, is simply superb.