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Looking at the prologues of the two Romeo & Juliet movies, by Franco Zeffirelli (1968) and Baz Luhrmann (1997), it shows just how diverse the words can become by using different audio, technical, written and symbolic codes.

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Introduction

ROMANCE: ROMEO & JULIET Assessment__ In feature films meaning is created through many ways other than just words. Looking at the prologues of the two Romeo & Juliet movies, by Franco Zeffirelli (1968) and Baz Luhrmann (1997), it shows just how diverse the words can become by using different audio, technical, written and symbolic codes. In Zeffirelli's Romeo & Juliet feature film, he has a softer, flowing approach to the prologue in all aspects compared with Luhrmann's production where most of the film codes represent violence, panic and destruction. The audio codes for Zeffirelli are calm and tranquil. The voice-over has a soft male's voice reciting the prologue almost like it is a bedtime story for children. He also does not narrate the entire prologue but omits the line "Is now the two hours traffic of our stage..." and the two lines following that. This makes it seem more movie-like than play-like and since the narrator is not definitely talking to the audience, and it seems a more story/plot (reading lines) type. The music played while he is speaking is gentle and "flutey" and also represents the medieval time in which the play is meant to be set. It is not dramatic and does not draw the viewers' attention; it just blends in and flows and mildly intrigues. The flow continues with the technical codes as there are only two different shots for the whole prologue, both of which are panned shots (and sometimes stationary) ...read more.

Middle

which is almost frightening. The first time the prologue is read it is done by a female newsreader on a television. Before she speaks there is just silence besides the faint clicking on of the TV and the fuzzy static noise before it switches to her in a newsroom. How the prologue is read the first time sounds more like a professional news report than "poetry". Also because she speaks the line "the two hours traffic of our stage" this tells us she has an audience and makes it seem more like a news report. The second time the prologue is spoken the voice-over finishes at: "Take their life". This gives a good, dramatic effect as then it goes on to show snippits of the movie. A "rewind" type sound is used after the news reporter stops talking. This adds a more modern touch to it, and shows us that the events were in the past. During the music you hear a few gun-shots. This just shows a part of the violent society. The technical codes also show violence as well as confusion and mayhem. There are a total of 74 shots just in the prologue so you get a feel for the movie (almost like a prologue in pictures!). Many fast shots could also symbolise panic or confusion or even the fastness of modern life. Because the shots are so fast and convey the tone of the movie, it could represent the shortness of time in which all the events, leading up to the tragedy, occurred. ...read more.

Conclusion

It looks as if he is looking down on them with grief. They look up to him. Jesus is between the two families like something they both agree on. Also, even though the film has been modernised, it shows that religion is still very much a part of people's lives, and perhaps more openly so for Italians! The movie revolves a lot around religion. Nurse was always praying for Juliet and the Friar, who played a main role and was a person to whom many people went for advice etc. It shows that through all their violence and hatred they still loved God. Religious crosses are used for the letter t and for the "ands". Fire and smoke is shown. This represents destruction, haziness, panic, hell-like or evil and fury. The prologue shows all the main characters except Romeo and Juliet. They don't need to be shown as we already know who they are and that the story is about them. They are not part of the violence and hatred so they shouldn't be shown with everyone else who is. Feature films use more than words to convey meanings and the two Romeo & Juliet films, by Franco Zeffirelli and Baz Luhrmann, support this idea. Using different film codes a story can be altered greatly or very little at all but it is never quite the same. With the identical prologue (excluding bits that were cut out- which shows how things can be changed by what you leave in and what you take out), one film showed us medieval tranquillity and peace while the other showed modern chaos and mayhem. ...read more.

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