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A comparison of two film productions of Act 1 of 'Romeo and Juliet' by William Shakespeare.

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Introduction

A comparison of two film productions of Act 1 of 'Romeo and Juliet' by William Shakespeare. Produced by: Franco Zeffirelli & Baz Luhrmann 'Romeo and Juliet' is a tragic love story written by William Shakespeare, about two young secret lovers. They are secret because they come from two different families - 'The Montagues' and 'The Capulets' - which are extremely bitter towards one an other and have been for many generations. Therefore this puts a lot of pressure on the lovers, and they only know one way for them to be together. The first act of any play is the most important. It must attract the audience and gain their full attention to let them know that the play is going to be interesting. However it must not be boring, as the audience will pay no attention to the play. In Act 1 of 'Romeo and Juliet' we find out many things and now become aware of what might happen. We find out that the play is set in the beautiful city of Verona, in north Italy. Also we are introduced to the main characters, which are the Montagues, the Capulets and the nurse of Juliet. There are two scenes in Act 1 that I am going to mainly concentrate on, 'the fight' in scene 1 and 'the party' in scene 5, and I will compare and contrast them using two different productions of play, one set in the Elizabethan times and the other in a modern day society. ...read more.

Middle

Zeffirelli has worked very well using cameras for this part of the Act. He has situated the cameras in different positions to make it look like that there are more people at this grand festive party than there actually are. The interior of the household with the high pillar surroundings gives the impression that it is more like a castle. Zeffirelli has chosen to dress the females in long, rich Elizabethan dresses, while the males are dressed formally in doublet and hose and also wearing their masks. The music is in the renaissance period with short gavottes, which are slow stately dances. The lead up to the first meeting of Romeo and Juliet is well presented. All the people have gathered around in a circle to watch and listen to a young man singing. While this is going on in the background, Romeo and Juliet are busy trying to make their way through the crowd to meet one another. By the time they meet, they are now in the distance and are well away from the crowd where they have their first kiss. Baz Luhrmann is also a producer who has taken the play 'Romeo and Juliet' to create his film version. However he takes the very modern day approach to present the story. The production could be described quite like gangster warfare. Luhrmann has decided to use the Shakespearean language, however the accents used are very American - slang which gives the hint of gangster style. ...read more.

Conclusion

Zeffirelli shows the mother being caring and considerate towards Juliet and wanting the very best for her. She also wants Juliet to become more friendly with Paris as she thinks he is the perfect match for her. However Luhrmann presents the mother as being less inconsiderate towards her daughter and she likes Juliet to do what she thinks is right. Juliet is more like a fashion accessory for her mother as she likes to show her off to everyone. Her mother likes to receive a lot of recognition through Juliet. Although there are differences in some characters, Romeo and Juliet are presented very similar in both productions. We can see that Romeo is very handsome and Juliet is very pretty, also they are both very young. They seem to have a lot in common but if we take a closer look we can see that both come from two different families. Now that I have watched the two different productions, I can come to the conclusion that both productions put the story across very well. My opinion is that Zeffirelli's 16th Century style production suits the Shakespearian language very well. It is like watching the script come to life. Baz Luhrmann who took the modern day approach has also put across the story very well. This production would be better for the younger people of our society as it has taken the story and totally modernized it to the time and period we live in today. ...read more.

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