Comparison Between Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and the Film by Baz Luhrmann

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How do both directors reflect atmosphere, mood, and staging techniques of Shakespeare’s play? Which version is most dramatically effective, and why? Romeo and Juliet, a tragic tale of two “Star crossed lovers”, is believed to be written by Shakespeare in 1595. The famous playwright and poet copied the original works of Arthur Brooke and William Painter to develop a play that dramatises the story of two youths who fall deeply in love. However despite their feelings, their plans, and their emotions, they cannot be together. The romantic account has recently been recreated though, the recreations becoming two internationally renowned films, that both take a special stance on the story of the Montagues and Capulets. Shakespeare sets the scene at the beginning of the play with an almost concluding speech. It tells the viewer or reader of what is to come, it gives great clues, it reveals insight that lies at the heart of the play throughout. Baz Luhrmann, in his modern version of the play, replicates Shakespeare’s opening, as he decided for the crucial beginning words to be spoken by a news reader. However, despite Luhrmann’s copy cat start, he soon differentiates his film from the original play, when he opts to change Shakespeare’s minimalist first scene. Although Rome and Juliet, Baz Luhrmann’s film interpretation of the famous 16th century story, uses the same old English that Shakespeare’s text is written in, his first scene could not be more different than the traditional opening to Romeo and Juliet. The Montague boys can be seen near the origin of the film, noisily riding along a Verona road. Despite the vast difference between Luhrmann’s film opening and Shakespeare’s, West Side story goes to an even further extreme. There is little resemblance to the play compared to the beginning of Francesca Zambello’s West Side Story. The New York located film opens with a zoom out view of the Jets, (the Montagues), arrogantly clicking. The authority with which they strut...
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