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A Comparison Between Film Versions of “Romeo and Juliet” With Reference to the Opening Sequence.

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A Comparison Between Film Versions of "Romeo and Juliet" With Reference to the Opening Sequence. During the 20th century, the amount of media, sources of information, has increased massively. The two biased film versions of Romeo and Juliet present the audience with different views of the story. Zefferelli and Luhrmann, directors of the films, each present opinions of the story as they are affected by their culture. Franco Zefferelli's adaptation of Romeo and Juliet adds a powerful realism because the play is set "in fair Verona," and actually shot on location in Italy by an Italian director. In comparison, Zefferelli obeys Shakespeare's rules on scenery by setting the film in Verona. Australian director Baz Luhrmann sets his Romeo and Juliet in a mythical and artistically created California town called Verona Beach. Luhrmann's film work has been about youth, and how its optimism, energy, and inexperience are so ultimately human and real. This is why he took a modern approach to William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Similarly, Zefferelli was also interested in youth. Casting teenagers in the roles; Leonard Whiting, 17, as Romeo and Olivia Hussey, 15, as Juliet he conveyed the "Star-crossed lovers," with a youthful passion and appealing innocence, adding further to the film's realism. Due to the fact that the 1968 version was shot on location, Zefferelli's intention was to exploit the scenery by using a number of panoramic shots. ...read more.


This scene comprises of three young Montagues, so Luhrmann shows that although the family freud is old, it continues in the current generation by contrasting the two scenes musically. Originally, Shakespeare included macho swaggering amongst the servants, and both versions incorporate this. Zefferelli's interpretation of this swaggering consists of the Capulets laughing loudly in the market. Opposingly, the 1995 version portrays three young Montagues driving with the loud volume of the second run of the prologue leading to dissonant rap music, which usually contains explicit lyrics. In addition, rappers have stereotypical reputations of violent attitudes and macho posing behaviour, thus portraying the music as a reflection of the Montague boys' perspective of their status in society. The theme of crude humour is grotesquely portrayed when a Montague servant who licks his nipples to a group of nuns. Zefferelli follows this same idea with a Capulet biting his thumb at the Montagues, and then spitting. Not only is this crude, but it also gives evidence that the Capulet boys feel that it is their right to do as they please in public, parallel to the Montagues in Luhrmann's film adaptation. In the 1968 version, one of the Montague characters at the market is an old man. The old man appears to be quiet and civilised in comparison to the young Capulets and the young Montagues in the 1995 version. ...read more.


The deliverance of the Prince's speech in Zefferelli's version, sounds harsher than the one in 1995. Perhaps Zefferelli wanted to reflect the Prince's anger, but Luhrmann wanted to depict the Prince's weakness, as later in the play Tybalt, Mercutio and Romeo disobey the warning. Zefferelli's and Luhrmann's variations both spawned from the original and brought new concepts to the stage. They were both distinct and profound in their own execution of the play. However, one must be able to comprehend the quick banter of English accents that constantly flow through Zefferelli's film. Furthermore, unlike Luhrmann's adaptation, there are no clues in the setting to help understand meaning and tone. On the other hand, Zefferelli's production presents a more concise version of the play to the viewer, accurately delineating setting, characters, and atmosphere. It brought me new understanding and significance to the play and aided me in comprehending the intricate world of William Shakespeare. Luhrmann's 1995 edition of Romeo and Juliet provided a brilliant contrast to Zefferelli's version, as his portrayal delivered more contemporary aspects to the stage. The setting was modern, yet maintained a hint of architecture from Shakespearean times. An example of this classical architecture was the Capulets' magnificent staircase. Although I found Zefferelli's version of the play accurate and enjoyable, I preferred the modern connotations of Luhrmann's later adaptation. It was a refreshing renewal of Romeo and Juliet and shed new light on the literary masterpiece. ...read more.

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