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Compare how the opening scene of Romeo and Juliet is portrayed in Luhrmanns 1997 film and Zefferelis 1968 version, which version is more successful?

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Compare how the opening scene of Romeo and Juliet is portrayed in Luhrmanns 1997 film and Zefferelis 1968 version, which version is more successful? The purpose of the opening scene in many of Shakespeare's plays was to settle and involve the audience. The audience would be standing and would need a good opening scene to keep their attention from straying. For example in Shakespeare's Macbeth the opening scene is three witches which would almost certainly grab and involve the audience as witches were very controversial and feared of in the 17th century. The prologue is another way in which Shakespeare attracted the audiences attention. The prologue which summarizes the play makes the audience want to see more. In both film versions of Romeo and Juliet the prologues adapt to their audience. In the Zeffereli version the prologue is a slow rendition. It is read like a fairytale and lulls the audience in to a full sense of security. This would settle the audience. In the Luhrmann version the prologue is interpreted in three different ways. The first is a news broadcast which shows the importance of the feud. ...read more.


While in Luhrmanns scene the camera moves dramatically between fighters, not showing all the fighting at once but close up on each character individually, their faces, guns or reactions. Zefferelis fight scene is more like an enormous brawl, lots of people join in as the scene develops, involving a longer build up and the arena for the fight is vast. When the fight starts the camera stays as a long shot. The fighting is very fast with little groups of Capulets fighting little groups of Montegues spread across the town square. Only one person is killed in this version. There is less dramatic tension in Zefferelis version because the fight is a shorter traditional fight. The fight with swords is close, hectic and skilful, the clashing of the swords add to the dramatic affect. There are twenty or more people involved in the close physical combat of sword fight. In contrast Luhrmanns account of the fighting is choreographed intensely to make it fast, which is emphasized by the operatic music and the quick editing. There are lots of almost dance like movements; it imitates the swords in Zefferelis version the word sword is even written on the guns. ...read more.


After that there is no more music but there are lots of loud voices and animals to show the busy market place. Loud bell chimes create chaos during the fight. I don't think the music is successfully used in this film; it doesn't give it an edge like Luhrmanns version. At the start and during the prologue the music is operatic with voices over the orchestra that seems old fashioned yet modern. The music tells the viewer that something dramatic is going to happen and when the music crescendos the fight starts. The gunshots are synthesised and loud for dramatic effect. The music is loud and stops abruptly as the fight stops. Zefferelis version is successful because it's a good historical film, as it was set in Verona in the 17th century- when Shakespeare set the original play, but I don't think the opening scene served the purpose Shakespeare's play would have- it wasn't very gripping for me. So I think Luhrmanns version is more successful. It appealed to me because it has a contemporary setting which makes it easier to relate to. I think Luhrmanns version is more successful because it's aimed at a modern audience and portrays the universal themes of love and violence in current culture rather than in a historical setting. Sonia 11E ...read more.

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