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An Analysis of 'Romeo and Juliet' Act One, Scene One - Comparing Shakespeare's Original Text to Two Dramatic Film Interpretations and Discussing how the Main Themes of the Play are Introduced

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Introduction

An Analysis of 'Romeo and Juliet' Act One, Scene One, Comparing Shakespeare's Original Text to Two Dramatic Film Interpretations and Discussing how the Main Themes of the Play are Introduced Shakespeare took the story of 'Romeo and Juliet' from a poem written by Arthur Brooke in 1562, 'The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet.' Brooke discussed the dangers of physical attraction, whereas when Shakespeare adapted the story for a play, he intended to discuss love. The main themes of the play are love and hate, as simple as that. Romeo firstly loves Rosaline, and it appears that he will never get over her. Then, almost instantly, he seems to be over Rosaline and infatuated with the young Juliet. The hate aspect is the long-running feud between the Montague and Capulet families, of which Romeo and Juliet are on opposing sides. Baz Luhrman made his film version of 'Romeo and Juliet' in 1995. It was very targeted towards the audience, and very tuned into their needs. The audience can understand and respond to Luhrman's version of Shakespeare; "...Successfully delivers the star-crossed lovers to the MTV generation, making Romeo and Juliet most excellent required viewing - instead of the mandatory abstruse high school assignment." (Katherine E. Monahan Huntley.) This quote from a review shows that this film version appeals to teenagers and young adults - today's MTV generation. Franco Zeffirelli's film version of 'Romeo and Juliet' was made in 1968, some time before Baz Luhrman's. At the time, the film was deemed controversial, as considerable rewriting of the script and scenes of brief nudity disconcerted audiences. ...read more.

Middle

The actors, whose accents are very RP, simply sound too reserved to feel any hate whatsoever for each other, and sound like they are just having a gentle disagreement rather than a fierce fight borne of their families' hatred. Fundamentally, the scene does not capture this quote from the script; "What, drawn, and talk of peace? I hate the word as I hate hell, all Montagues and thee," (1, 1, 67-69). Although this line is spoken in Zeffirelli's version, the deep passion and feeling is certainly not conveyed. The settings for the two films contrast greatly. Luhrman's film is set in Rio de Janeiro, in the middle of a bustling city. This is a very unusual setting for a Shakespeare interpretation, and Luhrman obviously wanted to bring the traditional story to a modern setting. Zeffirelli, however, stages his version in Italy, where Shakespeare originally set the play. When making his film, he perhaps wanted to add a touch of authenticity by shooting it in the appropriate place. Shakespeare probably liked the idea of a romantic tragedy being set in Italy, and at the time in England, his audience would presumably have never been to Italy. This would maybe create a fantastical setting for his play, in a far off country that was isolated from the majority of his audience, a place where they would never have a chance of visiting. In all three versions, the servants play a surprisingly large role. Shakespeare has cleverly managed to convey just how extensive the ancient family grudge is, by getting even the families' servants to become involved in the feud, not just family members. ...read more.

Conclusion

This certainly changed people's views that Shakespeare was old-fashioned and out of date, as Luhrman successfully updated his work here. Shakespeare, as a result of this film, became much more appealing to the younger generations. It was highly effective in communicating to the audience, as everyone could relate to the modern settings and updated symbolism. All in all, both film versions manage to convey the themes of the play, only in two completely different ways. Zeffirelli stays traditional to Shakespeare, managing to keep the original settings and feelings of the play, whereas Luhrman is more effective at communicating to his current audience the themes of the play. Each version works well, and I think it is admirable when the play is performed in the way that it was written. However, in my opinion it is more relevant to use modern language and settings to convey the themes of the play, as it is easier to communicate to the audience, who can relate to it more, and the wonder of Shakespeare's play-writing and captivating story-telling are still present. This is why I find Luhrman's version a lot more appealing and effective, as it helped me to understand the story of Romeo & Juliet much better then Zeffirelli's version - I found I could relate to Luhrman's modern settings, even though the dialogue was still pretty much the same. As William Shakespeare put it himself, "Never was a story of more woe, than this of Juliet and her Romeo," (5, 3, 310). Frances Duffy 10J Frances Duffy 10J Romeo and Juliet Coursework ...read more.

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