Modernization in Romeo and Juliet

Topics: Romeo and Juliet, Romeo + Juliet, Baz Luhrmann Pages: 6 (2423 words) Published: April 10, 2013
Modernization in Romeo and Juliet Full Essay
William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is one of the most well known tragedies of all time. Two star-crossed lovers, driven apart through the hate between their families, die tragic deaths when they can’t be together. People can interpret the play in countless ways. There have been many versions made throughout the years. Through movies and art form this play has been adapted and changed. In 1997, Baz Luhrmann directs his own modernized version, “Romeo + Juliet”. This movie uses the original text, omitting some parts. Baz Luhrmann puts his own take on the story changing how the viewer sees the play. The modern adaptations in Baz Luhrmann’s version of Romeo and Juliet cause the viewer to have a different perspective on different scenes of the play specifically the prologue, party scene and in the tomb. The modernization in the movie plays on the plot of the original play, and causes the viewers to think information in the prologue. Shakespeare begins the play with the prologue which was recited by the Chorus once and then the play started. The first part of the prologue begins with, “Two households”, the Montagues and the Capulets, “both alike in dignity”, both with the same social standing, “In fair Verona, where we lay our scene”, in the city of Verona where the play takes place, “From ancient grudge break to new mutiny”, a long standing hatred erupts into new violence, “Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean” where citizens will join and stain their hands with the blood of other citizens (1-4). The next thought Shakespeare puts into the prologue is, “From forth the fatal loins of these two foes”, the children of the enemies, “A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;” will fall in love and take their own lives, “Whose misadventured piteous overthrows”, and their unfortunate death, “Do with their death bury their parents' strife” will put an end to their parents feud (5-8). Shakespeare ends the prologue with, “The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love”, the story of their doomed love meant for death, “And the continuance of their parents' rage”, and their parents anger, “Which, but their children's end, nought could remove”, which doesn’t end until their children die, “Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;” is what will be presented in the next two hours, “The which if you with patient ears attend”, which if you listen carefully, “What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend”, everything missed in the prologue will be presented onstage (9-14). In contrast, Luhrmann’s movie has the prologue telecasted to the viewer by a newscaster on a TV screen, who says the entire prologue, and then the TV screen fades out. This initially makes the viewer feel an urge of immediacy. There is a need for an on the spot news report. This wouldn’t have been the feeling in the original play; the Chorus would have read the prologue to the audience with a normal speed in their voice. The modernized movie continues the urgency with the prologue given a second time. This time it is read faster.The modernized city of Verona is really emphasized. “In fair Verona” (2) is flashed on the screen and the images show two hotels, one with a sign saying “Capulet” and the other with a sign saying “Montague”. This takes out the need for the first line of the prologue and shows the viewer that these two families are enemies and it puts a completion element into the mix. The two households don’t like each other because they need to compete with each other. The prologue continues with Newspapers like “The Verona Times” and “Verona Today”, and magazines like “Time” and “Bullet” flashes on the screen with articles about two families fighting, with the words of the prologue as headlines. This shows that this feud was a national thing that everyone knew about. It was a big deal. Shakespeare didn’t present the feud between the families as a worldwide deal. He just...
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