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A Comparison of Two Film Versions of Romeo and Juliet.

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Introduction

A Comparison of Two Film Versions of Romeo and Juliet There are four main themes in the play of Romeo and Juliet. These are love, hate, violence and death. The love occurs between Romeo and Juliet, the children of the two families who have an "ancient grudge". Whenever the kinsmen of the two families meet, they always seem to fight, verbally and physically. They tease each other and mock the other family. This causes reactions from the families and the violence begins. Death plays a major part in the play, because various characters' decisions are based on some dying or committing suicide. For example, when Romeo thinks that Juliet is dead, he rushes to her tomb to commit suicide so that he will be with her forever. After he has poisoned himself, Juliet awakes and, seeing that Romeo is dead, stabs herself. The first main thing that happens in the play is the meeting of Romeo and Juliet and when Romeo goes to find her after the party. They then get married, but on the same day, Tybalt, Juliet's cousin, kills Mercutio. Romeo avenges his death by murdering Tybalt. In the end, both lovers die for love. Act three, scene one, is a very dramatic scene. Just before this scene, some of the Montagues had arrived at the Capulets' party and, because of this Tybalt goes in search of Romeo to show him that he has not got away with it. He finds Mercutio and Benvolio after they have been talking about hot weather and hot tempers ("For now these hot days, is the mad blood stirring", act three, scene one). ...read more.

Middle

While Mercutio died in Romeo's arms, Tybalt and his kinsmen drove off. Romeo was very distressed, and was shouting and crying. The film cut to Juliet, talking about how wonderful Romeo is. It was then night and Romeo was in a car, in a storm, searching for Tybalt. He was crying and his eyes were enraged and focused only on finding Tybalt. He crashed into Tybalt's car, which overturned, and Tybalt's gun was flung out of his hand. Romeo started to scream and shout hysterically. His face was full of pure hate and anger. He shot Tybalt in the heart, who fell into a swimming pool. There was silence, which was broken only by Romeo shouting, "O I am fortune's fool". Romeo then looked as though he had realised what he had done, and could not believe it. When Prince Escales arrived there was a lot of shouting, but he could still be heard. The atmosphere when Tybalt arrived was very different in each film. I think that the jokey approach to the fight, in the old film helped the viewer to understand that Tybalt did not mean to murder Mercutio and he was only fighting to preserve his honour and dignity. However, it didn't portray Tybalt's character as well as it could have been because Tybalt is supposed to be hot tempered and he was jokey in this fight, even when he didn't understand the joke made by Mercutio. When Tybalt realised that he had stabbed Mercutio, his expression of shock was well formed and accurate for the way he behaved. ...read more.

Conclusion

I think that not having a crowd in the new version was also effective because the characters were aggressive and powerful enough and a crowd would have cluttered the screen. The old film was set in Italy, and the fight scene was set in the market square. This was effective because it was set where the play is. The costumes were that of what would have been worn in the 16th century, when the play was set. This helped the film fit the script and was appropriate. The new film was set in America, and the fight scene on Verona Beach. This was clever because the play is supposed to be in Verona. The costumes, along with the set and props, were modern and, therefore, helped the understanding of the play because it is easy to relate to things you see everyday, rather than things you don't. However, the modern setting did not fit the script because it is written in old English. My overall opinion of Zeffereli's film is that the acting could be improved and more emotion could be introduced. The setting was accurate and overall, the quality of the film was good. I think that Luhrman's film was better as the acting was accurate and the characters, overall, were portrayed well. The emotion was realistic and the atmospheres created were very dramatic. However, I think that the script should have been made more modern to fit the setting and costumes. Apart from that, it was well presented and enjoyable to watch. Charlie Durber 26/04/07 10TZ 1 ...read more.

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