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Compare and contrast the methods used by Zeffirelli and Luhrmann in the opening scenes of their films

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Compare and contrast the methods used by Zeffirelli and Luhrmann in the opening scenes of their films, "Romeo and Juliet" Shakespeare's play "Romeo and Juliet" is one of Shakespeare's most interesting and well-known plays. It may even be the most well known play in the world! For this reason, many attempts have been made, by a variety of directors, to interpret and present the Shakespearian tale in their own way, tying to make it creative, original, and unique. The two directors who have succeeded most at doing this are Franco Zeffirelli and Baz Luhrmann, the two films I will be concentrating on. For those who are not aware, Romeo and Juliet tells the tale of two star-crossed lovers, Juliet (13 years old) and Romeo (17 years old) who secretly fall in love and marry. Their families, the Montagues and Capulets, have been fierce enemies for generations. Why, I hear you ask? Well there's no real cause. In the end, their love for one another is doomed. Using this as their basis, the two directors take a very different approach in portraying the play. Franco Zeffirelli went for a more traditional style, whereas Baz Luhrmann attempted to thrill his audience with a comedic modern twist, still keeping the original dialogue. In my opinion, Baz Luhrmanns film is aimed at a younger audience, teenagers for instance, due to the slang, comedy, hip modern feel, and gun violence culture, which seems to be a growing part of our world today. ...read more.


It's simple things like this which can straight away tell the viewer the time period the film is set. Example; space ships and flying cars, obviously in the future, modern cars, bikes, planes, somewhere within the last few decades, horseback, boat, carriage, back in the past. The techniques of filming are also different. A good example of the different techniques is at the beginning of the two films, the street fights. In the Lurhmann version, at the petrol station there is a lot of use of long and short shots, use of close-up, aerial shots, and low angle shots, which the Zeffirelli version also uses, but also there are other techniques like speeded-up film, freeze-frames, wipes and quick zoom which Zeffirelli does not use. In the street fight in the town market, Zeffirelli uses a highly mobile camera in cinema verite style, and there is a lot of use of aerial shots, and close-ups. There was one thing I noticed in both the films, the use of when introducing Tybalt. Here the camera starts off low, looking at the feet and legs of the person, then slowing raising up the the face as they introduce the character. This is a good technique to use to introduce an important character as the audience will know it must be someone important from the filming technique. ...read more.


On the other hand, the pictures presented to the audience in the Zeffirelli version are very old, swords instead of guns, horse instead of car etc. Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet are played by two young unknowns, Leonard Whiting (sixteen years old) and Olivia Hussey (fifteen years old). This was in keeping with the time in which it was made, when there was a "generation gap", and they would have been seen as innocent youth taking on the mean minded older people. The actors in the Luhrmann version, however, are well known Leonardo DiCaprio, and not so well known Claire Danes who were 21 and 17 years old when the film was being made. They are different to them in the Zeffirelli version because the acting is more exaggerated, less traditional, and more stylized. To sum up, the two films of Romeo and Juliet were both created and directed brilliantly by the two directors, and its hard to believe a some points that the films are both set on the same story! Theres so much that's different about them! Appart from the obvious time set, one being Shakespearian times (Zefirellis) and one being the modern world (Lurhmanns), the language/dialect is different, the transport methods and weapons are different, and also the filming styles and sound effects are different! I think they are both great films and to get a true feeling of the story I would prefer to watch the older version, but I do however like Lurhmanns version more due to it being a more exciting, active and modern film. ...read more.

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