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A comparative Study of two Film Versions of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

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Andrew Lightstone A comparative Study of two Film Versions of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet Franco Zeffirelli and Baz Luhrmann both directed a film version of the Shakespeare play, "Romeo and Juliet". Although they both have the same plot two films have quite a different way of creating it, thus have a different affect on the audience. Franco Zeffirelli directed his version in 1968. His film was very innovative for the time. He took the play off the stage, and bought it to life on the streets, where it could interact with the surroundings, and relate its plot to real life, instead of just being limited to a theatre. In the film he wants to give the audience the belief, that they are watching the play as if they are living there with you actors. Meaning that there is historical realism both in the buildings, lives and clothing of the characters. Despite the fact that the play was now a film, Zeffirelli tries to keep it as similar as possible to the original. This includes the traditional Shakespearean old English. However, the film is still aimed at younger audiences, and is easy to understand. The lead actors used for the film are not known to the public. This was intentional. It allows the audience to focus on the characters and allows them to believe that the people they are watching are those characters, without their previous performances in mind. Luhrmann's film was written in 1996. This film made his career. It is set in a fictional place called 'Verona Beach' in the modern day world. In this version of Romeo and Juliet, there have been many genres merged in together. It is very modern compared with the play, where it is set in a largely built up city, but, he manages to merge it with a cowboy theme, as the Capulet family were first introduced, and a Kung Fu take, in the shoot-out. ...read more.


The Montague Boys, by their clothes, seem very laid back. They are wearing tropical shirts, and one of them has pink hair showing how young and irresponsible they are. There is rock music playing. It then goes to a dolly camera which is mounted on the back of a truck. This is done so you can see the whole front of the car and the boys inside as they drive. It also gives you a chance to see the number plate, which starts off with 'MON'. Soon after, you see a building with a low banner and the Montague name on. This shows the families power and dominance, yet, when the Capulets pull up into the petrol station, they too have a number plate with the word 'CAP' on. The Capulets are revealed in a similar way they were in Zeffirelli's production - from the feet up. But, in this film, the affect achieved was different. The cowboy theme arrives with the Capulets. As they get out of the car, the clicking of their boots sound like the spurs, and the music is from that of a western. They are dressed in malevolent, dark clothing. As in Zeffirelli's film, they are very easy to distinguish. In this movie, the Montague's are scared of the Capulets. When Abra shows the boys his teeth brace they jump back in fear. The brace is a reminder of Jaws from James Bond 007. There is no music at this bit, but with the repeated close-ups on the faces, you could see the tension. When Abra got back out of the car because Montague bit his thumb at him, it resembled a Western film again, because the two men were standing there facing each other with guns, their importance emphasized again, with the family logos on the guns (which had the word 'sword' engraved on them, in order for some of the dialogue to make sense). ...read more.


As he moves closer to the camera, he shows us the flower in his hand. He speaks to Benvolio about a poem, indicating he is romantic, and the flower shows he is a peace bringer. The other film, is more dramatic. After the remaining Montague boys are bought home from the police station, a silhouette is shown, walking across the beach by the twinkling sea. The sea in this case, is tranquil, and that is reflected on the silhouette, who is Romeo. The camera zooms in, and Romeo's thoughts are used for a voice over. He is writing a poem. As with Zeffirelli's production, he is a romantic. Zeffirelli tries to make his version of "Romeo and Juliet" perfect according to the play, including detail down to the last movement. This meant the play had to be all its own. It is unique in how it was written. Despite this, both the older and younger generation took a lot of interest in it. For people who didn't want to read the play, or who didn't know the story line of the play, it was perfect. Luhrmann's film was made to bring mainly the young to love Shakespeare's works. This is done by modernizing the play, thus having to improvise with the horses, the market place, and the swords. In order to get maximum appeal, he put together many different types of film, including western, contemporary, gangster, and even a bit of 007. This was very successful. The people who watched this version of the play were the young generation. Most of whom, knew the basic storyline and what the out come was. As a result, the director had a chance to play around with it a bit, and modernize it just to get more people interested. I prefer Luhrmann's film because it's modern. It has a sixteenth century play bought into the chaos of the modern world, and I like how the two mix. There are guns, fires, explosions, and more. I already knew the storyline, and with these extras, it didn't change much, it just made it more interesting. ...read more.

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