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An Analysis and Comparison of the Opening Sequences from the Films of Romeo and Juliet Directed by Franco Zeffirelli and Baz Luhruman

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Introduction

An Analysis and Comparison of the Opening Sequences from the Films of Romeo and Juliet Directed by Franco Zeffirelli and Baz Luhruman Romeo and Juliet is a play written by William Shakespeare. It is a tragedy about two lovers, but they cannot be together because they are from families who are constantly feuding. In the end, both Romeo and Juliet commit suicide, and the families are united. Franco Zeffirelli's version of Romeo and Juliet came out about 30 years before Baz Luhruman's, which came out in 1997. Zeffirelli decided to set his film in the original period that William Shakespeare set it in, the 13th/14th century. He set the whole film around his own portrayal of life at that time in Verona, Italy, which was also the setting Shakespeare had used. Luhruman produced a more futuristic version of Romeo and Juliet, based in present times on Verona Beach, but in both movies Shakespeare's original language was used, which contrasted well and built up dramatic effect and tension well, especially in Luhruman's film. Both Zeffirelli's and Luhruman's versions of Romeo and Juliet kept Shakespeare's prologue, and used it at the beginning of the movie. ...read more.

Middle

In Luhruman's beginning, again we are instantly aware of where we are, because we see the beach, Verona Beach, and a petrol station. Rather than just a general diegetic sound, we can hear non-diegetic music, which sounds like music from an old cowboy movie. Luhruman introduces us to this scenes main characters pretty much straight away. He makes it very clear who he wants the audience to focus on, and identify as a "main character". He does this by using freeze frames, and camera stills. As the camera goes over a character who is actually a main part of the storyline, the camera freezes the actor into position, and the character is framed with a black border to make him stand out. Below their picture, the character is identified to us, using bold white writing. This makes us aware of their name, status, and house - Capulet or Montague. I think that this makes the audience interpret that there's going to be some action, because along with the music, it gives the impression of a fight brewing. We see lots of cars around, and "Hawaiian" shirts, which also depict the more modern period of time. ...read more.

Conclusion

Luhruman also sometimes slows shots down, making them slow motion. Like before his big fire during the fight, a cigarette is dropped, which is the source of the fire because it sets alight to the petrol, and so as it drops to the floor everything goes into slow motion, with a shot following the cigarette's descent to the ground. During this time, we realise what's going to happen, and so a lot of dramatic tension is built up. We associate the fact that we are in a petrol station with the cigarette, and realise there will be a fire. Zeffirelli and Luhruman, although they both worked on the same basic script and storyline, both interpreted the play of Romeo and Juliet completely differently, and had very different ideas and ways of presenting it to their audiences. Zeffirelli stuck mainly to Shakespeare's guidelines, his setting, his period of time, while Luhruman tried to experiment a bit more, and modernise it. I think that this was because they both had different audiences, Luhruman's was aimed mainly at young people, and so he needed to make it appeal to them, and so that they could relate to things in it. Both films were successful though, and both got Shakespeare's storyline across very well. ...read more.

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