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Make a study of the different productions of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ by Franco Zeffirelli and Baz Lurhmann and assess the success of each one.

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Introduction

Make a study of the different productions of 'Romeo and Juliet' by Franco Zeffirelli and Baz Lurhmann and assess the success of each one. The aim of this essay is to assess the differences between the two film productions in terms of the intentions of their directors in portraying Shakespeare's classic, 'Romeo and Juliet'. Even after watching two minutes of each film it is immediately evident that the story is set in completely different times. Zeffirelli's version is set in the time the story was written, in the late sixteenth century and makes every attempt to capture the reality of those times, whereas Lurhmann's thriller is set in a modern, late 20th century Verona Beach, intending to show how 'Romeo and Juliet' would have been acted out if Shakespeare had lived in the present day. Zeffirelli aimed to create a picture that showed exactly how 'Romeo and Juliet' would have happened if the story had occurred in real life. ...read more.

Middle

Lurhmann tried to attract the largest audience he could possibly get and those people were the regular cinemagoers who by no means had to be interested in Shakespeare at all. He created the film in a genre that would attract these people. He does this, first of all, by setting the story in the 1990s, in a modern Verona Beach. Immediately the viewers of the film can relate to it, whereas they might not be able to in Zeffirelli's historic picture. Secondly, he used actors that appealed to the modern audience, especially the lead role of Romeo, played by Leonardo Di Caprio. Also, Lurhmann's use of modern artists such as Des R�e, Garbage and Radiohead, who were, and are still, popular cult figures, drew in the predominantly young audience. In modernising the film he changes the two rival families, Montague and Capulet, into mafia-like families with a stronghold in the economy of the city. They carry pistols instead of swords, which is where the action and spaghetti western parts of the film come in, as the two gangs are constantly caught up in shootouts between one another. ...read more.

Conclusion

In both films the scene is cut out where Romeo kills Paris, which is understandable as this scene is irrelevant to the plot, however the scene where Friar Lawrence clarifies what has happened to the now dead lovers to the Prince is omitted. This is an important scene as it ties up the story and links up the scenes showing the families' reaction to the tragic loss of their children and the ending of the feud between them. In conclusion the only real success of the Zeffirelli film was its startling realism as to what would have happened in the sixteenth century, had 'Romeo and Juliet' occurred in reality. He does not show much creativity in his film using only the ideas of Shakespeare and not his own interpretation. This, however, is what Zeffirelli intended so the film was a success in its own right. Lurhmann completely takes on board his own ideas, but without really changing the script that much. His picture incorporates intense scenes of violence and passion with his modern thriller aimed only at creating box-office hit. In completely different ways, both films accomplished their aims with great success. ...read more.

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