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How the two directors (Baz Luhrmann and Zefferelli) convey the opening of Romeo and Juliet.

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Introduction

How the two directors (Baz Luhrmann and Zefferelli) convey the opening of Romeo and Juliet "Romeo and Juliet" is a tragic love story on a background of hatred and animosity. It is definitely one of Shakespeare's most well known plays, arguably the most well known. The fact that this play is so well known has presented problems to directors who wanted to try and stage or film "Romeo and Juliet" - there is more pressure on them to create something unique and original. The challenge has inspired several directors. Among these directors are Baz Luhrmann and Zefferelli, who both felt motivated enough by this play to turn it into a film. Some aspects of the two resulting creations were very similar, but in other ways very dissimilar, and the two directors approached their task in very different ways - and this is what I want to study. The opening of a play is very important. It makes the reader decide whether he or she wants to read on, gives us our first impressions, and most importantly, it introduces the characters and sets the scene for the rest of the play. So, when writing the opening of "Romeo and Juliet", Shakespeare takes care of all these points effectively. ...read more.

Middle

The servants of one family are dressed in red and yellow, and the other in green, so they are clearly distinguishable from one another. He uses the contrast between the servants petty quarrelling and the intensified atmosphere as the higher status characters enter. When the fighting begins there is instant and utter confusion. There is a long shot of the whole marketplace full of people are fighting frantically in a whirl of colours. Although this shows the hatred in Verona and how a quarrel between the two houses can spring from nothing, the true atmosphere of animosity does not take hold until we meet Tybalt (as Shakespeare seemed to intend). When we first see him it is in a close up, and he is made to seem very different from everyone else. His clothes are orange, not read and yellow or green, and even his voice is deeper. A chiming clock in the background and the sound of shouting and screaming heightens the intensity of the scene. Luhrmann is trying to achieve the same effects as Zefferelli but does not use the same techniques. He has to adapt all this to modern day. The characters' high status has been established by corporate power - Montague and Capulet written on huge office blocks, etc. ...read more.

Conclusion

While the others dress generally more colourfully Romeo is dressed in simple black and white. Both versions show him to be a young, handsome man who for some reason is alone and evidently melancholy and unhappy. Before seeing Romeo in Luhrmann's version we see a view of the city which is quite sordid and unpleasant. We are shown a woman who seems to be a prostitute, and a man with an enormous stomach bulging over his trousers and a depressed expression. The general impression is seedy and squalid. Then we are shown Romeo - no wonder he is depressed, and what a background for young love, we think. I think that both directors were inspired by this play - and with good reason - and each wanted to interpret it their way and somehow make it their own. They used very different methods, Zefferelli choosing to make a traditional film in period, giving a classical interpretation as close as possible to how it would actually have "happened", and Luhrmann preferring to update the play, drawing in a younger audience and making it something today's teenagers could better relate to. This is a play that could withstand any number of interpretations and re-interpretations. You cannot really say that one of these interpretations is "better" than the other because they are so different, but I do think that both directors succeeded awesomely in what they set out to do. ...read more.

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