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With particular reference to Mercutio how far do you think that Zefferelli and Luhrmann have realised Shakespeare's intentions in Act Three, Scene One of Romeo and Juliet?

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Introduction

With particular reference to Mercutio how far do you think that Zefferelli and Luhrmann have realisedShakespeare's intentions in Act Three, Scene One of Romeo and Juliet? Set against a background of conflict, revenge, loyalty and hatred, 'Romeo and Juliet', in my opinion is, as one eminent critic stated, "a tragedy of youth as youth sees it1." In this play Shakespeare portrays love as a violently ecstatic, and overpowering force which inevitably and inexorably leads the lovers to their doom. Intricately interwoven into the plot of Romeo and Juliet are the timeless themes of death, violence, tragedy and passion as we race along the "misadventured" path of the "star-crossed lovers." In Act Three, Scene One we witness the turning point of the play; Mercutio's needless but predestined death drives Romeo to seek revenge for his beloved friend and pushes him further towards his doom. Once Mercutio and Tybalt are removed from the action, the audience's attention is no longer distracted and our full focus is upon the eponymous "star-crossed lovers." Franco Zefferelli and Baz Luhrmann have each approached Romeo and Juliet in different ways and it is interesting to see how these Twentieth Century directors have interpreted the 1595 play. By using Act Three, Scene One, I intend to show how, over four hundred years after it was written and first acted, Romeo and Juliet retains its timeless appeal for young people. It is quite extraordinary that a play which was written so long ago, should still excite and affect people, especially in a society where traditions and values have changed so dramatically for the younger generation. Although, traditions have changed and technology has become a dominant force, society will always be affected by the emotions of love and hate which Shakespeare cleverly captured in Romeo and Juliet. These emotions will always cause conflict and will always appeal to all audiences, especially younger audiences. ...read more.

Middle

Luhrmann, in contrast to Zefferelli, made his production livelier and adapted this classic Shakespearean romantic tragedy for the screen, by updating the setting to a post-modern, fictional city named Verona Beach. He also used modern images and powerful futuristic and exciting effects, with a modern rock soundtrack. The difference between the two families is shown through their opposite religious icons and business connections. The youths of the two clans, riding in jazzy cars with rap music blaring, carry handguns openly, which they brandish in frequent showdowns that rarely lead to bloodshed. Zefferelli cast youthful, good-looking, relatively unknown actors in his version of Romeo and Juliet, but Luhrmann chose the young teen icons, Leonardo Dicaprio and Claire Danes, already established box-office draws. This had the added advantage of taking Romeo and Juliet to an audience that would normally think of Shakespeare as a chore to be studied in school. However, in my opinion, in both the Zefferelli and the Luhrmann productions, it is the charismatic, three-dimensional character of Mercutio who maintains the young audience's interest; he is a rebel of his time, whether it is the sixties or the nineties, and young people always identify with a rebel. Act III Scene I opens with a crash of thunder followed by many aimless gun shots from Mercutio into the sea. This fits with Benvolio's godlike warning (delivered from the top of a lifeguard's chair) to Mercutio as he says "...these hot days, is the mad blood stirring."10 This is a very clever way of contrasting the heart-warming matrimonial union of Romeo and Juliet, in the preceding Act II Scene IV scene, with a scene that starts so intensely with guns and thunder. Luhrmann uses ominous weather signs such as the imminent thunderstorm, as a dramatic device, to give a warning of what is to come. The gun, the lifeguard's chair and the stark archway (a Proscenium Arch?) ...read more.

Conclusion

A purist might question the cuts in some speeches and scenes, the changes in plot (why is Paris alive at the end of the play in both Zefferelli's and Luhrmann's productions?) and the lack of clarity in diction, especially in Luhrmann's film. However, I firmly believe that Shakespeare intended his Romeo and Juliet to be accessible to all, but to young people in particular; Juliet is thirteen years old and Romeo is not much older and their deaths are indeed " a tragedy of youth as youth sees it."21 Zefferelli and Luhrmann, in my view, most definitely realised Shakespeare's intentions by bringing this four-hundred years old play to a modern-age society without sacrificing its integrity. 1 Eminent critic 2 Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in his 1811 critical essay of 'Romeo and Juliet in Full View' 3 William Shakespeare, 'Romeo and Juliet' Act II Scene IV 4 William Shakespeare, 'Romeo and Juliet' Act I Scene IV 5 William Shakespeare, 'Romeo and Juliet' Act I Scene IV 6 William Shakespeare, 'Romeo and Juliet' Act I Scene IV 7 Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in his 1811 critical essay of 'Romeo and Juliet in Full View' 8 Susan Snyder in her critical essay 'The comic Matrix of Romeo and Juliet' 9 In his critical book, 'Shakespeare in Short,' W. Grierson 10 William Shakespeare, 'Romeo and Juliet' Act III Scene I 11 William Shakespeare, 'Romeo and Juliet' Act III Scene I 12 William Shakespeare, 'Romeo and Juliet' Act III Scene I 13 William Shakespeare, 'Romeo and Juliet' Act III Scene I 14 William Shakespeare, 'Romeo and Juliet' Act III Scene I 15 William Shakespeare, 'Romeo and Juliet' Act III Scene I 16 William Shakespeare, 'Romeo and Juliet' Act III Scene I 17 William Shakespeare, 'Romeo and Juliet' Act III Scene I 18 William Shakespeare, 'Romeo and Juliet' Act III Scene I 19 William Shakespeare, 'Romeo and Juliet' Act III Scene I 20 William Shakespeare, 'Romeo and Juliet' Act III Scene I 21 Eminent critic Frehiwot Dereje ...read more.

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