“I fear this but a dream, too sweet to be substantial,” are the soft words uttered from star-crossed lovers caught in the chaotic instability that permeates Franco Zeffirilli’s Romeo and Juliet (1968), Baz Lurman’s Romeo + Juliet (1996), and John Madden’s Shakespear and Love (1998). Although there are significant differences in each movie’s portrayal of Juliet and her Romeo, they accurately depict Freud’s ideas concerning love and human tendencies. In “The Einstein-Freud Correspondence,” Freud explains that in nature, violence rules everywhere. Einstein questions mankind’s lust for destruction and Freud affirms that man has two basic instincts: sex and violence. The constant state of instability and antagonism between humankind in nature makes peace unavoidable. In the case of Romeo and Juliet, love can attempt to rebel against the specter of war, but it is always beaten down. Tragically, Romeo and Juliet’s love is inextricably entwined with the aggression that plagues their feuding families. Both Romeo and Juliet try to fight the hostility with love, but all psychical acts (according to Freud) occur in an atmosphere of constraint, and the tension between one’s impulses, and what society will allow, creates an unavoidable instability. Each movie is an interesting interpretation of Shakespeare’s masterpiece; however, Zeffirilli’s Romeo and Juliet is the best representation of true love and human tendencies.
Though extremely witty and entertaining, Madden’s Shakespeare in Love does not represent true love and human nature. One of Madden’s central devices is to create a background of events, large and small, drawn from Will Shakespeare's daily life. For example, in the opening scenes Madden shows Will strolling through town hearing lines shouted out from town criers such as “a plague on both your houses!” Moreover, Madden poses Will as at a loss for inspiration. Hence, William gets the foundations of his next play (Romeo and... [continues]
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