Emperor doesn't reimagine history so much as use it as the jumping-off point for a fictional historical romance set against the backdrop of impending war, when everything seems more vital and in-the-moment. Except for this sometimes plodding film.
In French choreographer Jean-Christophe Maillot's Roméo et Juliette there are no swords, no heavy Renaissance costumes and there is no vial of poison. The ballet has been stripped of all its dead weight while preserving the essence of the narrative.
If there is one drawback to Annenberg's film it's that viewers may be torn between trying to read the rapidly changing subtitles while listening to people speaking conversational Yiddish onscreen for the first time in decades.
This is the one time in class where viewing the movie is beneficial. Shakespeare was written as a play, not a book, so seeing the scenes played out is helpful when trying to decipher the plot-line and character motivation.