What’s the Difference?
Romeo and Juliet, the play by William Shakespeare, is a story about prohibited young love between the two characters, Romeo and Juliet, members of enemy houses, and it ends with the tragic death of both the lovers. The two movies that capture the tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet are the Zefferelli verion which was mad in 1968 and the 1996 Lurhmann version. Both movies do fine in generating a visual of Romeo and Juliet in their own unique way. As Michael Anderegg states “Right from the explosive beginning to the tragic ending, Romeo and Juliet will keep you captivated, this is a testament to luhrmann’s brilliant snappy direction, which will take you on a rollercoaster ride of car chases, gun fights and a love that was destined to fail.” (71) Where the Zefferelli version is to be taken more seriously, it is described as “having passion, the sweat, the violence, the poetry, the love and the tragedy in the most immediate terms.” (Brown 182) Each film has its strengths and weaknesses as well as their similarities and differences. Right off the bat you can tell the biggest difference is the time period of each movie. It was easy to tell these differences due to the surroundings by noticing the stage play of each movie and recognizing the setting of different scenes. Similarities can be figured out by knowing the play and by having seen both versions of the movie, while library books and magazines go the most in depth on major differences. One major difference in the movies is the setting of the film. In the 1968 version the setting is held in a type of medieval setting of a castle and a courtyard. The 1996 version is held in the modern day urban city, and changes the viewpoint of the play. However, the movies were filmed out of Verona because “Verona was the home of the Capulet and Montague families and the plot centered on the civil disorder that occurs between the two families. The death of Romeo and Juliet is what brings the families together.” (Bate 98) The Zeffereli version seems to be much more accurate to reenacting the exact plays setting because they filmed on a site with castles, which helped the viewer envision what the play scene was really like. The Lurhmann version changes the view of the play completely by having mansions instead of castles as well as streets instead of dirt roads. There are also minor differences in the styles of clothing and attitude of the people mainly because of the major difference in setting. The 1968 version has clothing much more appropriate for the play, and the 1996 version has casual modern clothing. In Luhrmann’s film, the costuming, decorations and lighting are flamboyant and colorful, giving a lively and entertaining feel to the party; Romeo is dressed symbolically as a knight in shining armor to show that he will rescue Juliet. Luhrmann uses this to emphasize Romeo’s youth and enthusiasm. Juliet is represented as an angel in white to show her purity and to foreshadow her imminent death. Paris is dressed as an astronaut to show that he is out of this world and too good to be true. Mercutio cross-dresses as a woman being both man and women representing that he is not on either side of the feud. Tybalt is all fired up dressed as the devil with horns to portray the hatred he feels towards the Montagues. His henchmen stand on either side of him wearing skeleton costumes which foreshadow death in the play. Behind them is a picture of Christ on the cross contrasting good and evil. In contrast, Zeffirelli’s version is a more traditional version set in the 17th century; the costuming and decorations are more dull and formal, giving a serious feel to the party and a more subtle effect. The room is lit up by candles giving a dull feel to the room. Many critics made an issue on how Zeffirelli would have actors cross dress, leading to many questioning feminization and his homosexuality even though the point of the story is not based around that. “Zeffirelli’s...
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