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Examine two film versions of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”, focusing on the balcony scene, compare how the directors have translated the play to the screen and state your preference.

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Introduction

Examine two film versions of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet", focusing on the balcony scene, compare how the directors have translated the play to the screen and state your preference. William Shakespeare is one of the world's best-known dramatists with plays such as Hamlet and Mid Summer's Nights Dream. However probably his best-known theatrical production is that of the tragic love story of Romeo Montique and Juliet Capulet, two young teenagers in love, with the problem of bitterness between their two families. Before about thirty years ago only people who attended the theatre could witness this wonderful production that was until a director by the name of Franco Zeffirelli changed that. He produced a film of Shakespeare's play. About thirty years later another director by the name of Baz Lurhmann also produced the film Romeo and Juliet however his version was different in the sense that he had created the film so that it would match the surroundings of today's society. The settings of the two films' balcony scenes are different, Zeffirelli's version has the traditional Orchard scene whereas Lurhmann has still the same scene only it is set at the swimming pool of Juliet's house. ...read more.

Middle

In Zeffirelli's version Romeo is climbing up to Juliet's balcony and then talks with Juliet there. However in Lurhmann's version Romeo again climbs up to the balcony of Juliet's room but instead of speaking with Juliet herself, Lurhmann creates a humours incident where Romeo is instead talking to the nurse. Throughout the whole balcony scene in Zeffirelli's film Juliet is the focal point in the scene. The camera has both long and short shots of Juliet, but mostly she is situated in the centre of the screen. The director has deliberately done this so that the viewer can see Juliet's dreamy look in her eyes. In Lurhmann's film Romeo is the focal point at the start of the scene but then this is no longer so, as it is both Romeo and Juliet who are captioned together. As Juliet is the main focus in the traditional version then it is effective that we can hear Romeo speak but we cannot see him, this is not so as there is a sharp angle when Romeo speaks at the beginning of the "swimming pool" scene in the contemporary version. The humorous effect when Romeo climbs the trellis is deliberately done to make the very romantic scene seem more upbeat, the clumsiness of Romeo is also deliberate humour. ...read more.

Conclusion

In both the modern and traditional version when Juliet recites the words, " What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet", both actresses, Claire Danes and Olivia Hussey, show deep sorrow because of the fact that her and Romeo cannot bee known to be a couple because of their families grievances. In Zeffirelli's production when Romeo says, "O, speak again bright angel" Romeo is still in hiding but in Lurhmann's remake Romeo is now standing right behind Juliet. As a result he startles Juliet, which leads her to fall into the pool dragging Romeo with her, this is very humorous which again lightens up the tense scene. It is at this point that the slow, romantic, piano music begins. There is no barrier here unlike the traditional version where there is a constant barrier, which is the wall of the balcony, which causes Romeo to never have full bodily contact. The effectiveness of the two in the water is one of softness; the water makes everything look soft and romantic. The security guard appearing is also comic, as Romeo has to hide under the water, which causes him to gasp when he emerges again. He then envelops into a passionate kiss with Juliet, a kiss of which Juliet does not want to leave as she clings to Romeo as she is leaving the pool. ...read more.

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