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Romeo and Juliet & Richard III Film Analysis

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Introduction

Romeo and Juliet, the tale of two star-crossed lovers. This is perhaps the least likely of tales in which you would expect to encounter scenes of roaring gunfire, dangerous car chases and wannabe gangsters with smooth American drawls. So how has Luhrman managed to modernise Romeo and Juliet whilst maintaining the original language and plot? Set in a modern day Verona Beach where skyscrapers dominate the skyline and Mercedes whiz past the streets, the film has updated Shakespeare's tale almost beyond recognition. If you look carefully, you will notice family emblems of the warring families, the Montague's and the Capulet's, have been sited all over the place; on the sides of buildings, number plates, and even weapons to name a few. This is a device which helps the viewer quickly clarify the two households. Another way in which the characters are differentiated is through the costumes they wear. Whilst the Montague's role up in a Cabriolet wearing a mish-mash of brightly coloured shirts and shorts, the Capulet's smart appearances are planned to the very last detail. ...read more.

Middle

At the start of the film for instance, a typical American television broadcast is shown. The only difference is, the newsreader is reciting Shakespeare's prologue. An effective introduction, or is this simply taking the fusion between old and new too far? As the broadcast unfolds, 'eye in the sky' footage of scenes of destruction are presented, similar to those of countless modern action films. Having watched Romeo and Juliet, I decided to watch another adapted Shakespeare classic, Richard III. Similarly, the film was a modernised adaptation, designed to give viewers a slice of the Hollywood action the original play can't provide. The gist of the plot is a fictitious scenario set in the run up to World War Two, in which Britain is a fascist state. The setting is very much 1930's, a nation ravaged by a bloody civil war, in which the king has been assassinated. But whilst many are suffering on the streets, the House of York are having an extravagant party to celebrate their victory. After many years of fighting, the throne finally seems secure. ...read more.

Conclusion

Even as his ghastly reflection stares back at him in the mirror, we know this is a man that cannot be trusted. Overall, are the films really that different? Okay, we know they are both Shakespearian plays that have maintained the original language, but beside that I believe they have more in common then you might expect. They are both Americanised, modernised adaptations designed to bring Shakespeare to a younger audience. Although one is set in the 1930's and the other in a modern day setup, one can't help but feel the plots aren't too dissimilar; two warring families with ancient grudges, violent openings and of course tragic endings. The idea of using the original prologues in the opening is also a shared phenomenon, which helps to bind together Shakespeare's language with the contemporary settings. To conclude, I think these films have been well adapted to suit a perhaps younger audience who demand supplementary action and celebrity icons. Although fans of Shakespeare may despise the films, I think they have been superbly directed and open up the world of a famous playwright to an audience that would otherwise lose out. ?? ?? ?? ?? James Morley Romeo and Juliet & Richard III Film Analysis ...read more.

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