Romeo and Juliet

Topics: Romeo and Juliet, Romeo + Juliet, Baz Luhrmann Pages: 6 (1513 words) Published: June 7, 2013
Comparative Essay Romeo and Juliet: Franco Zeffirelli and Baz Luhrmann

When making books or plays into films, every director interprets the text differently. In the case of Romeo and Juliet, Franco Zeffirelli and Baz Luhrmann’s film are different in many ways even though they are based on the same play. The film by Franco Zeffirelli, in 1968, does a better job reenacting the play in a motion picture than the film made by Baz Luhrmann, in 1996, because the setting, costumes and characterization of each person in the film, have a greater reflection on the play and William Shakespeare’s time period. All aspects of a film are important, although what makes a film unique, is it’s setting.

The setting in the film by Franco Zeffirelli makes logical sense relating to the time period of Romeo and Juliet. The film by Baz Luhrmann shows the town of Verona as a big city, with electricity, television and paved roads. Almost everything in the film’s setting does not exist in the time period of Shakespeare. The film by Zeffirelli takes place in a small town with no electricity, gobble stone roads and stone houses, which is what it is like during Shakespeare’s time period. The balcony scene in the Zeffirelli film is more romantic and suitable for the film than the Luhrmann balcony scene. The balcony scene in Romeo + Juliet does not seem special or romantic because there is a big pool, bright lights, no moonlight, and Juliet does not talk to Romeo from her balcony. The places of communal gathering in the two films are very different. Baz Luhrmann’s choice of “town square”, where important scenes take place is Verona Beach. Verona Beach is a dirty, sandy and sketchy place in town. Franco Zeffirelli’s choice of “town square” is an actual city square, which makes more sense. Not only are there differences in the setting between the two films, there are also differences in the choice of costumes.

The costumes of the actors in both the Zeffirelli and Luhrmann films are different. The costumes of each actor in the Zeffirelli film are formal, appropriate, showing minimal skin, compared to the costumes in the Luhrmann film where lots of skin is visible and everyone is dressed inappropriately. In the Luhrmann film there is a scene where the Friar, at the church, is wearing a casual Hawaiian T-shirt, showing lots of skin. The Friar also has a tattoo on his back, which is normally forbidden for spiritual leaders. In the text of Romeo and Juliet, Romeo refers to Juliet as an angle because she is beautiful. In the film by Luhrmann, the powerful effect of the line, making Juliet seem gorgeous, is diminished because she is actually dressed as an angle. Different costumes in the two films also have an effect on the presentation of each character.

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Juliet’s character from the two films may have the same lines, although the way they are presented is totally different. In the Luhrmann film, Juliet appears to be more religious than in the Zeffirelli film. Very often in the Luhrmann film we see her praying before a shrine in her bedroom, which we rarely see her do in the Zeffirelli film. A very important characterization of Juliet is her innocence. The Luhrmann film does not strongly display this characterization of Juliet in the scene where Romeo and Juliet meet. When the Zeffirelli film does show Juliet’s innocence. There is a big difference in Tybalt’s appearance between the Zeffirelli and Luhrmann film. The Luhrmann film portrays Tybalt as a devil by his appearance, opposed to the Zeffirelli film where Tybalt appears malicious only when spoken too. -------------------------------------------------

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When a play is made into a motion picture, the director makes important decisions whether or not to omit, add or extend scenes, lines and events. The film by Baz Luhrmann does not do a good job modernizing the play Romeo and Juliet in a film...
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