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Romeo and Juliet - Shakespearean based films by Baz Lurhmann and Zeffirelli.

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Introduction

Romeo and Juliet When producing Shakespearean based films, producers are faced with difficult tasks. Baz Lurhmann and Zeffirelli had to deal with such problems, but each was different. Zeffirelli had the burden of converting Shakespeare's play to film yet he knew his audience would appreciate the film. Luckily he didn't have to change much of the play. The problem that faced Lurhmann was that he didn't know whether there would be an audience for Shakespearean films in the modern world. To overcome this, he incorporated the dramatic elements of a modern film with the language and style of Shakespeare's original play. However difficult a task, each producer faced, they managed to produce a film that society at that time would expect, with scenes of tension between foes and lovers and scenes involving intimacy between two "star-crossed" lovers. In act 1 Scene 5 of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, the servants of the Capulet mansion, are making arrangements for a large party. Shakespeare shows there is a tense atmosphere looming, as one servant says he "cannot be here and there too." This shows that everyone in the mansion is under some sort of pressure to make the party a memorable occasion. Perhaps under the pressure created by Capulet's need to redeem himself from the "civil brawls" his family has caused in Verona's streets and by his desire to upstage his foe, the "Montagues." ...read more.

Middle

He sees Juliet and the camera centres on his face, allowing Romeo to distance himself from the noisy crowd, showing that he is totally engulfed by her beauty. Yet Lurhmann chooses to isolate the two characters from the party by putting them in another room, where Romeo is refreshing himself in a water fountain. The background music, has now completely changed, preempting that something is about to happen. In the room there is a large fish tank in the centre. The graceful movements of the fish now fascinate Romeo, being the romantic he is. Lurhmann uses the imagery of water in many key scenes throughout the play. It appears that water symbolises purity and clarity of thought. This is shown where Romeo washes his face, clearing his mind of drugs and where he catches sight of Juliet's eye through the clear fish tank. They don't say anything to each other but we can see that they are both aware of the chemistry they share. Lurhmann creates tension by using the tank as a physical barrier keeping the two characters apart. The audience gets a feeling of increasing tension as the two characters get closer to each other, but before they can say anything, Juliet's nurse enters and takes Juliet away, much to the dismay of Romeo. In spite of Romeo's apparent isolation from the world, in Shakespeare's play, the audience becomes aware of the fact that the outside world is constantly intruding. ...read more.

Conclusion

Again, this could be due to the audience involved. Lurhmann chooses not to isolate Romeo and Juliet by placing them in another room, but isolates them by using different camera angles and he also gets the two characters to whisper as they talk to each other. Whilst they are reciting the sonnet, Lurhmann continually focuses on their lips intensifying the passion experienced between the two characters. Romeo and Juliet seem to be in their own world; they are completely besotted with each other, showing the audience that true love is involved. The way Lurhmann gets the camera to circle around them as they kiss also shows they are in their "own league" when concerned with love. To sum up, I think that each interpretation of the historic love tale involving two "star-crossed lovers" is unique in the way they are conveyed. Where Shakespeare has to create atmospheres involving tension, passion and violence using words, Zeffirelli uses the older, more traditional issues involved with love and Lurhmann uses modern and more sophisticated means to show how his view. I think that Lurhmann was right to edit and change Shakespeare's original script for his film, especially as it was aimed at today's teenagers. If I hadn't read parts of the original script and tried to picture how the scenes would have taken place, I would have thought that this was how the actual play took place. Garth Chamberlain Page: 1 ...read more.

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