The Old Vs. The New Romeo And Juliet Movies Essay, Research Paper
Out with the Old and in With the New
The success of both the traditional and modern movie versions of Shakespeare s Romeo and Juliet are dictated by their settings. The traditional version of this legendary love story was filmed in 1968 and is set in the 1600 s, placing the characters in the time period from which the story was derived. The more modern movie version on the other hand, filmed in 1996, places the characters in the time period of when the movie was filmed rather than when it was written. Since the two films share much of the same dialogue the different time tables upon which the films are built impacts their fruition. Because they are so synonymous with the age they represent the setting, music, costumes, and acting of the two films can be seen as the four legs of the two tables of time. Being of the century from which the latter of the two films was produced serves as a to bias viewers who may have trouble relating to the various elements of the outdated traditional film.
The settings of both the current and conventional movie versions of Romeo and Juliet are similar to and different from one another. Both films take place in large urban areas, and the tone of both films is set by the tension between the Montagues and the Capulets. Where the settings contrast on the other hand is the time period within which the pictures take place. The more traditional version occurring in the 17th century and the modern version in the late 20th. The 20th century rendition Romeo and Juliet is quite a stretch from the original, however little, if any, of the literary quality of the story is sacrificed. The essence of Shakespeare s original writings is captured very well in both of the films, however the latter of the pictures does so in a remarkably unconventional manner. In addition, placing the cast in the 20th century may encourage otherwise oblivious audiences to follow and try to understand the films plot. Also contributing to the accomplishment of both the films is their costume design and music.
In both motion picture renditions of Shakespeare s Romeo and Juliet, the costumes the cast members wear and the music played in the films are synonymous with the era in which the plots unfold. Without having had much exposure to the 17th century style of dress, it s hard to determine whether or not the character s clothing has any significance. A good example of when dress is important in the modern film is at the costume ball where Romeo and Juliet first meet. Juliet s father had just told Juliet that he had arranged for her to have the honor of marriage, which of course was an honor she dreamt not of. We ve all heard the clich of the knight in shining armor, which is exactly what our young Romeo was dressed up as, the hero who would eventually save her from her uninvited wedlock. The music in the two films, as it does in most, sets the mood for many scenes in the pictures. However, not being up to speed on 17th century music does little to take away from the dramatic effects created with the music in the original film. Of course, the music in the modern version can prove more tasteful to 20th century ears, and may interest those ears enough to attract inattentive audience s eyes. Another factor, perhaps the most dramatic, in the impact of the films is the acting.
Perhaps the most influential variation of Shakespeare s Romeo and Juliet in the two films is the acting. The original film is dedicated to the emulation of the 17th century in dress, musing, setting, and most of acting. The cast members do everything they can to act as those of the 17th century would, and they do so successfully. But the language itself is hard enough to understand without having the story distanced even more by centuries old mannerisms acted out by the older film actors. In the modern version on the other hand, the actors speak in familiar tones, and put emphasis on certain words that may not be emphasized in the original. In the two films the same scenes are acted out in two totally different manners, as our century is to the 17th, totally different. This goes to show how dead scripts can be brought to life by the actors, its almost like reading instead of watching an episode of Seinfeld, many intended affects may go right over one s head. The modern movie prevents this missing of certain points by bridging the gap between Shakespeare s language and our time with the use of excellent modern acting.
Both the traditional and the modern movie versions of Romeo and Juliet are accurate representations of Shakespeare s writings. The setting, acting, music, and costume in the films however are very different from one another. The original film is performed, conceivably, exactly as it would have been when Shakespeare wrote the story. What the modern version does is take the same centuries old dialogue and applies it in a modern day scenario. Romeo and Juliet in the original are of noble descent, whereas in the modern film they re simply wealthy. In the original film the enforcer of the law is a prince, whereas in the modern film that same enforcer is the chief of police. Again in the original version Verona is a city surrounding by a perimeter wall whereas in the modern film it s just a beach city. The point is that, without having changed the story at all, the modern rendition changes the story completely. The modern film not only shows the story in a new light, but it also makes an awesome point about the timelessness of Shakespeare s writings, that they are just that, timeless.