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Romeo and Juliet Film Analysis

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Introduction

Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet - Film Comparison Part 2 There are many differences between the directors techniques used in both films. The choice of location is evidently different. Baz Luhrmann in his 1997 version of the film presents Verona as a modern city, dominated by scenes of chaotic urban violence. He uses panning shots across the metropolis with police cars and helicopters darting about, and human casualties strewn across the ground. This would be quite different to Shakespeare's original setting in a rural Italian town. Verona beach is the cities name, and this is used thorough pathetic fallacy to create a darker feel to the film - Mercutio's death cry "A plague, on both your houses!" seem to take immediate effect as a storm is called in. In Zeffirelli's 1968 film, Verona is a closer representation to what Shakespeare might have had in mind in the late 1500's - a small town, with only a few icons - such as the Church and the marketplace, instead of a whole city as in Luhrmann's film. Baz Luhrmann uses wide, panning aerial shots of the city, with quick changes - for example the introductory scene when flashes of newspaper headlines are transposed with writing from the chorus of the play. ...read more.

Middle

Zeffirelli uses bright and colourful costumes in his film for the Capulets - they are more laid back, almost like practical jokers with nothing to do. The atmosphere that they create lacks any kind of malice. It is almost the same with the Montagues in this film, but they wear more neutral colours, such as dark blue, and black to suggest their scholarly upbringing. There is also the underlying subject of the fate that is controlling Romeo and Juliet: For example just after Romeo kills Tybalt he shouts, " I am fortunes fool!" As a character I think Romeo is just trying to blame his own misfortune on something else to be free of guilt. Dramatic irony also plays a key part in both films, whereby the audience know vital pieces of information that the characters do not. For example in Luhrmann's film when Mercutio is stabbed, he puts on a brave face to his friends but reveals his true pain only to the camera when he turns around. Also in Zeffirelli's film, when Tybalt stabs Mercutio, only he and the audience can see the blood on his sword. ...read more.

Conclusion

Luhrmann's omissions from the original script are vital into understanding what kind of film he wanted to demonstrate: for example he cut a lengthy dialogue between the Capulets Sampson and Gregory in favour of a more explosive and dramatic opening to the 3rd brawl in the petrol station. Many of the omissions are also to do with sexual hints or jokes, which would be perfectly ordinary in Shakespearean times, but a modern audience, would not understand or approve of them. Luhrmann also changed the timing of Juliet's scene to after Mercutio's death to show the change in attitude that Romeo has gone through, from being more faithful to his wife than his friends - to the exact opposite. In the end I think each films outcome was decided by what kind of film the directors wanted to portray to the audience - With Baz Luhrmann going for a modern love story / action film, and Franco Zeffirelli opting for a more traditional retelling of the classic play. This influenced how the characters would be portrayed, the location of the films, the scenery and most importantly, the language in their retelling of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. ...read more.

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