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Male Representation in the Two Film Versions of the Play 'Romeo & Juliet'

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Introduction

Male Representation in the Two Film Versions of the Play 'Romeo & Juliet' The Opening The opening of both versions of this piece sets the president for what follows, the Luhrman version perhaps more so than Franco Zefferelli's attempt. They display glimpses of what is to come, drawing the viewer deeper into the story. The amalgamation of multiple 'Big Close Ups' and bird's eye shot, as well as the incorporation of a masterful music score, serve to create a genius piece of cinematic production for the opening scene. Not only that, but the scenes presented in the shots are chosen specifically to give an uninformed viewer an insight into the turbulent nature of this story; to settle any misgivings the audience may have at the mention of Shakespeare. A male viewer would certainly breath a sigh of relief at the sign of someone getting shot at. Luhrman has chosen to include the Chorus, a popular theatrical device of the Shakespearian era taken from famous Greek tragedies, in the form of a newsreader from a news program, which is an image very familiar to the intended audience. The Chorus uses the original text, superimposed over flashes of gangland violence, to create a subtext that becomes embossed on the viewer's interpretation of the rest of the film. As opening sequences go, this one could be considered a masterpiece of modern cinema. Franco Zefferelli has not invested as much importance in the opening of his production. He has instead decided to go with a theme to suit the mode of his film. ...read more.

Middle

The fight seems to be a parody of a Western, with bullets bouncing off metallic objects at humorous moments. Tybalt's appearance tilts the fight into an altogether more frightening prospect. He seems to delight in the bloodshed, not merely accepting is at a part of life as his counterparts do. The deliberate ignition of the petrol fire is evidence of his psychotic nature. The token movie bad guy, it would seem. Compared to that potential bloodbath Zefferelli's fight scene appears almost friendly. The two families embark on a sword fight after a similar, although less heated, exchange. The fight may not be as action packed as the previous version, but is no less amusing as we see the whole fight moving into the courtyard, where everyone in the picture has their swords drawn and brawling amongst themselves in a genial sort of way. The camera work is much less sophisticated, with most of the shots being provided from the horizontal axis, which rules out any close-ups. The two families in this version seem calm and composed and the rivalry doesn't seem to be as serious or intense as we see in the Luhrman version. The calm music does not add to the impression of a serious rivalry; more an afternoon of sport. At the climax of the violence Zefferelli has the Prince riding in on a horse (which is accurate in that he would enforce the law at the time that the play was written) ...read more.

Conclusion

The Luhrman version effectively harnesses the power of pathetic fallacy in the form of rain pouring from the heavens, framing Romeo's tortured expression. A deadly mixture of pain, anger, suffering and rage pass across his delicate features as all his sorrows boil in the cocotte of his soul. Without sounding too chauvinistic and stereotypically male, I found the Zefferelli version of this play tediously artsy and lacking in appeal. I realise that I don't fall into the target audience for this production, which is probably why I found watching it decidedly painful and confusing. The acting was impossibly wooden and lacking in emotion, the camera work was terrible and the score was almost identical throughout; far too heavy on the mandolin. By comparison the Luhrman version was pure genius. Despite it not being one of my all-time favourite films I still found is a pleasure to watch. The production was outstanding, as you would expect from a film with such a big budget, and the star-studded cast provides some of the most critically acclaimed performances of their careers. The multitude of gunfights, car chases, explosions and brutal murders also lifted my esteem for this film high above its tawdry counterpart. The film has been penned, directed and edited to appeal the people of my generation, and I feel that it does just that. It may not contain the scripted values of the original text, but it packages the tale of love, loss and tragedy that is Romeo and Juliet into something altogether easier to comprehend. ...read more.

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