The essential visual differences in the film prove to be complete opposites. The 1968 version by Franco Zeffirelli, depicts a traditional Romeo and Juliet. There was nothing visually stunning about the accustomed Renaissance setting that was doused in neutral colors. Costuming was accurate and conventional for the time. In general this adaptation stays truer to the way Shakespeare had intended. In the 1996 version by Baz Luhrmann, the story of Romeo and Juliet is portrayed with a modern day twist. The setting is a beach city where cars and buildings are vibrant with color. Costumes were updated with Hawaiian print shirts and casual styled dresses. This adaptation was more appealing to the eye because it was not so bland.
The thread of the original text that the directors in both films seem to have focused upon was the Shakespearian language. In the 1968 version, the Shakespearian language was expected due to the traditional motif. The visual imagery and the language in this film go hand in hand, therefore, amplifying this thread. In the 1996 version, the Shakespearian language made the movie more interesting because everything else was so modern. The language seemed so out of place in this contemporary setting that there was no amplification by the imagery.
The 1968 Romeo and Juliet was nothing out of the ordinary from a very customary telling of the play. Therefore, it is hard to say that there are any outside influences of soci-political or cultural elements. The 1996 Romeo and Juliet was filmed during an era where new things are being discovered and technologies are beginning to boom. It’s no wonder Romeo and Juliet get a fresh face, contemporary setting and modern set.
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