In the Zefferelli version of the film, the prologue is very calm. It makes the audience feel calm because of the slow music and the language. The music and the word seem to be very sad as it gives the audience the feeling that this is going to end in a very tragic way. The prologue also shows Verona, where the play is set, to make it more dramatic. This makes the audience know how and where the play is set. While in the Luhrmann version, the prologue is said by a news reporter to make it more dramatic. It is also said twice at it is very fast and the audience wont be clear about what was going on. The prologue is said while introducing the feud. It dramatises the feud from the prologue. Also while introducing the brawl, it is said by the headlines of newspapers. This makes it dramatic for the audience because it give them the idea about the feud going on for a very long time and also about what is coming.
COMMENTARY ON BRAWL
In very strong contrast to the prologue, the play goes straight to the brawl. In the text written by Shakespeare, the brawl starts of with a bit of insulting, which would have been very amusing to the Elizabethan audience because it was about insulting their manhood and to women being a weaker sex; while for the audience nowadays, it would just be a bit of normal insulting. There is also opposites like Benvolio being a peace keeper and Tybalt being completely opposite of him. All this insulting would have made the Elizabethan audience enjoy the play very much.
The brawl in the Zefferelli version of the film starts with a bit of normal insulting and then goes straight to the fight. There is also the same opposite as in the text version of Benvolio being a peace keeper and Tybalt being shown evil. To make it more dramatic, the director makes Old Montague more sympathetic than Old Capulet to the audience because Old Montague runs into the fight because he sees one of his men wounded, while Old Capulet goes into the fight for no reason. One more reason used by the director to make it dramatic is that the Old Montague and Old Capulet have longer swords than their men because they have the higher authority.
In the Luhrmann version of the film, the brawl is very dramatic. The Capulet’s entry is very dramatic and especially Tybalt’s. The Capulets are shown wearing dark clothes by the director to make them look baddies to the audience. The Montagues are shown wearing very bright and Hawaiian clothes to make them look as goodies to the audience. To make it even more dramatic, the director has made the Capulets shown stronger to the audience by making them look stronger than the Montagues by their actions and clothes along with some special effects. By all this special effects and dramatic effects makes this brawl to be shown as a rival gang wars to the audience.
COMMENTARY ON THE PRINCE
In the text version, he is shown dramatically violent. He threats all the people. He is tired of all the brawls. The houses had been feuding over some insults. He threats their lives if it happens again. This makes the audience feel tense and worried about what would happen if this happens again. But Shakespeare also calms down the audience by the entrance of the Prince after the brawl.
In the Zefferelli version of the film, it is very dramatic because the Prince comes in with a shock. He also has a very strong impression to show to the audience that he has the full authority. He is also shown to be the highest authority by showing the audience that when he comes, everyone goes to one side of the path. He is also shown from the crowd’s point of view to make the audience feel that he has the power to do anything. He comes on a horse and there are also trumpets and lots of soldiers when he comes. This also gives the impression to the audience that he is the highest. In the Luhrmann version of the film as well, the Prince is shown as being the main person. In this as well, he is shown from a crowd’s point of view, he is shown from a helicopter giving orders. He is also shown as Chief Police. This leaves an effect on the audience about the prince being the character having the power to make any decisions.
COMMENTARY ON ROMEO/BENVOLIO
In the text, Romeo is shown to be sad because of his love rejecting him. Shakespeare also uses opposites to make it more dramatic and he also uses loving language. All these opposites and the dramatic language give an idea to the audience that the play is going to be about Love and Hate. In the Zefferelli version of the film, Romeo is shown to be very sad about his loss of Rosalyne. The use of slow music by the director also makes the audience feel that this is a very sad moment. To make it even more dramatic, the director has shown them to be childish to make the audience feel that Romeo is infatuated in love but he isn’t deeply in love. There is a strong contrast when Romeo is in a sad and calm mood and after he sees people wounded because of the recent brawl, he becomes suddenly angry. This is to make the audience come out of the very sad part. In the Luhrmann version of the film, Romeo is also shown very sad. Slow music is also played to calm the audience but to add to the calmness, the director sets this part of the scene near a bit of funfair and on a beach. This would probably be there to make the audience calm faster after the incident of the brawl.
All these reasons sum up to explain why the opening scene is very dramatic for an audience. The play starts off with a very calm and slow prologue. It does differ from different version of the play and then converted to a film, but they are still very calm. They start off giving the audience a bit of and idea of what the play is going to be about, which already grabs your attention by telling away the end in a way which leaves you curious till the end of the play. Then in a very strong contrast it goes on straight to a brawl. This really grabs the audience into the play with a sudden change of mood. Then the entrance of the Prince with a very interesting dramatic effect lead the audience through he whole play.