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A comparison of the Zeffirelli and Luhrman versions of the 'Romeo and Juliet' Film

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Introduction

A comparison of the Zeffirelli and Luhrman versions of the 'Romeo and Juliet' Film William Shakespeare's play 'Romeo and Juliet' is a very popular tragedy and has been for hundreds of years. However, the play from the script runs for around three hours, so in recent times two films have been made of the play. One is the Zeffirelli film and the other the Luhrman film. These films do not run for 3 hours, however. Therefore these films differ from the play in many ways, have scenes cut out and bits added for effect. Not only do these films differ from the play, they differ in many ways from each other. In both of the films many of the long and winding speeches are shortened a lot, and in some cases are cut out completely. This helps to shorten the films, as there is not as much to say. In some cases little scenes are omitted and some characters have even been left out. The Zeffirelli film has the Montagues and Capulets as they are in the play. However, in the Luhrman film there is a new Capulet, Abra, although he does not play much part in the story. There is no such character in the Zeffirelli film. Zeffirelli stays more true to Shakespeare than Luhrman does as he sticks with many things that would be the case in Shakespeare's time. ...read more.

Middle

The balcony scene in both comes straight in instead of having a chorus and in both films the balcony scene is full as it is one of the famous scenes of the play. Also the wedding is not shown in the Zeffirelli or the play itself, however in the Luhrman film it is shown. In both films the violence scenes are dramatised and lengthened and in both the fight scene with Romeo, Tybalt and Mercutio is lengthened and made a key event in the play. In both there is a lot of moving from place to place, but probably more so in the Zeffirelli. Both use the fact that Romeo was standing in front of Mercutio lead to Mercutio's death, as it is done in the play. The remainder of the scene is cut very short, with Juliet and Romeo's sad speeches shortened considerably. In the Zeffirelli film their farewell scene is quite hasty but in the Luhrman film they are seen in bed together, spending time together before Romeo leaves. Both films then have scenes where Capulet forces Juliet into marrying Paris and Juliet then goes to Friar Lawrence to plan the fake death. In the Zeffirelli, Friar Lawrence's plan for Juliet to 'die' is quite lengthy, although in the Luhrman it is reasonably short. Her funeral is a larger event. Another thing the two films have in common is that there is no Paris present in Act 5. ...read more.

Conclusion

Tybalt is just a menacing character that is reasonably normal in the Zeffirelli film but in the Luhrman film Tybalt is a posing, menacing man who coats himself in leather. In both films Tybalt is seen flirting with Lady Capulet, more so in the Luhrman where some actual incest is involved. None of the flirting is in the play. In addition, Paris is named Dave Paris in the Luhrman film. The soundtrack in the Zeffirelli film is orchestral and romantic. Luhrman uses some pop and some classical music. Both films are colourful, although the Zeffirelli is more artistic. The Luhrman film is very different where there is music blaring, lights flashing and the camera tilts. The costume in the Zeffirelli stays true to Shakespeare and is sixteenth century dress, although in the Luhrman the dress is modern and completely different. Overall, I think that the Luhrman version of the film is the better of the two. It is more modern and despite the language staying the same as old modern English, it is easier to understand. The effects are good and the characters look more like we would see in the modern day. The Zeffirelli film is a good film but it harder to understand and minds may wander while watching the film. For the modern day audience, I think that the Luhrman film is the better film to watch. Chris Rootkin IVA ...read more.

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