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An exploration of the ways in which the Two Film Openings present their Characters and Themes, and set up the basis for the story of the Whole Film

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An exploration of the ways in which the Two Film Openings present their Characters and Themes, and set up the basis for the story of the Whole Film The Italian director Franco Zeffirelli directed the first film of Romeo and Juliet. Zeffirelli wished to portray the authentic pre-Elizabethan settings of the story. This film reached our cinemas in 1968. The film was a huge success, not just among highly literate adults, but for the general public. It won Oscars for Best Cinematography and Costume Design, and was also nominated for the Best Picture and Best Director awards. The film opens with a faded, long shot overview of the city Verona. In the middle of this image is a river, reminiscent of a division line, to symbolize the rivalry and the separation of the two families, the Montagues and the Capulets. The Capulets bite their thumbs and spit at the Montagues, which stirs up an argument, which turns into a fight. This involves everyone, not just the two groups who started the argument. Tybalt's character is introduced presently. He steps out of the crowd and there is silence. The camera focuses on him for a little while, angling him from his lower body, then slowly moving up to the rest of his body. ...read more.


The same introductory speech about the star-crossed lovers, which was read out to accompany the opening image Zeffirelli's film, is read out, but in a less prim and precise manner. The voice reading the prologue has got an American accent, in contrast to Zeffirelli's film, where the man has an English accent, and all the words are spoken very distinctly. This rapidly cuts to a scene where the Montagues are portrayed. Similarly to Zeffirelli's film, the division between the two rival groups, the Montagues and the Capulets, is clearly established by their dress. The Montagues are presented as punks and rebellious, with their coloured hair and Hawaiian style shirts. They appear very immature and childish, messing around and joking with each other. A punk-rock soundtrack accompanies their entrance. The Capulets on the other hand appear very menacing and sinister. They are viewed feet upwards, showing their shoes, which have metal spurs up to their gun holsters, and black suits. Western styled music accompanies their entrance, giving the idea that they are similar to cowboys. The Capulets appear to be a mixture of cowboys and gangsters. The Montagues and Capulets have swapped roles in this film, but the difference between them still gets displayed well. ...read more.


The fire is a symbolism for hatred, and the fact that the whole area is alight shows how quickly hatred can spread, and just how lethal it can be. Following this scene, there is an overview of ambulances and police helicopters. Which we were previously shown before the action had occurred. The main difference between the two films is the time periods they are set in. Zeffirelli keeps to the pre-Elizabethan period, the time in which Shakespeare set the story. Zeffirelli preferred to stick to authentic settings. Luhrmann, in contrast, sets his story the late twentieth century. He has created an original and interesting film. When Luhrmann was making the film Romeo and Juliet, he had to bear in mind Zeffirelli's film was out. Luhrmann was aware that if he stuck to the authentic settings of the story, his film would be very similar to Zeffirelli's, and would not be very popular. Although Zeffirelli states in the opening that Romeo and Juliet is a story, he aims for realism. Luhrmann's film is somewhat artificial. Zeffirelli's film is in sequential order, whilst Luhrmann gives flashbacks and future images, which creates a lot of confusion. The presentation of the characters' personalities is quite similar in both the films, Tybalt as a powerful, confident person, and Benvolio as a timid, nervous person. The theme of conflict is used and conveyed in different yet very effective styles in both the films. ...read more.

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