, Research Paper
Romeo and Juliet
Two films, both alike in content, set in fair Verona, where the directors laid out their scene, one created by Franco Zeffirelli in 1968 and the other by Baz Luhbrmann in 1996. Both cinematic, both staying true to the plot and dialogue, each one radically different than the other, Zeffirelli sets his film within historical actuality, while Luhbrmann presents his with a modern twist. A story of love, revenge and death, revolving around a pair of star-crossed lovers, interpreted differently, but presented in the same form.
Zeffirelli and Luhbrmann, both had the task of displaying the story of Romeo and Juliet in a cinematic form. Their adaptations of a stage play to a film, allowed them to interpret the story differently. In comparing these films, one must first look at the chorus, (the first character introduced in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.) Zeffirelli use of the chorus, is subtle (when compared to Luhbrmann’s chorus), he employs a series of shot of Verona accompanied by a voiceover. Easing the viewer into the story as a spectator and nothing more. The music he chooses is classical, but calm and soothing. While Luhbrmann use of the chorus is an in your face type technique. Luhbrmann’s chorus is more complex, he choose two repeat the chorus twice. Once as a news report, framed within a TV, the other is presented as an advertisement that tells the viewer to stay tuned for more. Luhbrmann uses a montage of shots consisting of Verona, scenes coming up in the film and special effects, which places the viewer within the film. Luhbrmann intertwines the montage with a voiceover of the chorus, in addition to the voiceover he place the Chorus’s script on the screen, i.e. with the uses of titles, newspaper clippings and magazine covers. Luhbrmann focus on the chorus and imbeds in into the viewer’s brain. The music he chooses to use is also classical, but bombastic and energetic.
The elements the filmmakers choose to use in the film, i.e. the music, location, editing techniques and special effects, help tell the story. Zeffirelli uses his elements to ease the viewer from scene to scene, he is employing the Classical Hollywood Filmmaking technique. A smooth flowing pace, where the viewer does not notice the cuts, plus the music assists in the movements within the cuts. Nothing daring is done in his film, he stays true to the historical appearance of the film, uses ideas that have already been exhibited, such as period piece music and historical costumes. The world famous balcony scene (Act II, scene II) is an example, Zeffirelli employs the same blocking that Shakespeare probably intended. This is one of the few times, Zeffirelli interacts with the locations, and his locations is a town within walls, perceived to be a small town, the location is bare and not crowded.
Luhbrmann employs the same elements in a different manner, his film is fresh and new, and he places the viewer within the film. In the balcony scene, Luhbrmann approaches it differently, opting to create instead of copying. He decides the balcony is a non-important issue and allows the action to take place in a totally different way. His location of Verona Beach is approached in the same way. Instead of a place where the action takes place, he shows every inch of the town. Creating such a powerful element in the film, that the location becomes a character, the city streets are busy and patrons of Verona are everywhere. A totally different town , when compared to Zeffirelli’s film. Luhbrmann film is a influenced by the period of his time, it is very MTV, cutting edge, the music set the tone and mood, he uses mainstream music which is recognized by the viewer, which causes the music to become another character in the film. The editing techniques, does not try to ease the viewer in the film, instead he throws images into at the viewers, trying to portray what is going on through out Verona, he does this with wipes and special effects.
In presenting Romeo and Juliet in films in both directors take certain liberties with the script, Zeffirelli omits lines in the dialogue, but stays pretty close to the plot, as also Luhbrmann. But Luhbrmann does delete some minor characters, and rearranges a few scenes to display the emotion and events of the main characters or dramatic purposes. The points in his movie, where this can be seen are the following: Tybalt’s death, the scene cuts from Romeo avenging Mercutio’s death (Act III, scene I) edited with Juliet’s monologue of her love for Romeo (Act III, scene II). And the death of Romeo and Juliet, (Act III, scene III) where Juliet awakes before Romeo’s death.
Special effects are also used in Luhbrmann’s film, in the following manner: both of Friar Lawrence monologues. (Act II, Scene II and Act Iv, Scene I) Luhbrmann use these to parts in the film a commercial explaining what is to come.
In conclusion, Romeo and Juliet, is the perfect of Shakespeare plays to be done as a film, both filmmakers had different interpretation of the story. It is a film, which can reach the masses, everyone is familiar with it, and it is a great story.
Romeo and Juliet dir Luhbrmann 1996
Romeo and juliet dir Zeffirelli 1968