William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is the classic story of two families, the Montague’s and Capulet’s who have an age old feud. Two children of the families, Juliet Capulet and Romeo Montague, meet and fall in love. The feud of their families encourages them to keep their relationship secret. They get married without telling anyone, but their family feud gets in the way. Juliet’s cousin, Tybalt, and Romeo’s friend, Mercutio, get into a sword fight and Mercutio is killed. Romeo kills Tybalt for revenge and is banished from Verona. Juliet and Friar Laurence come up with a plan to fake her death and get her out of Verona to be with Romeo, but Romeo does not receive the message of the plan and sneaks into Juliet’s tomb and kills himself. Upon waking, Juliet sees dead Romeo and kills herself also. This tragic ending is displayed in two very different ways by Baz Luhrmann (1996) and Franco Zeffirelli (1968). The death scene in Luhrmann’s version better portrays the intensity and emotion of the moment using script changes, setting, and music/sound.
Luhrmann’s script better focuses on the emotion and intensity by only keeping or changing things that contribute to how Romeo and Juliet feel. Contrary to Shakespeare’s original play, Luhrmann did not include minor characters like Paris or Friar Laurence, which allows us to give all our attention to Romeo and Juliet’s final moment. This way we are not distracted by other things happening in the scene and can instead appreciate the emotional scene. Luhrmann kept the line, “Tempt not a desperate man,” which coupled with the scene around Romeo and great acting the simple line showcases the desperation Romeo feels in his need to be with Juliet as he dies. Luhrmann’s biggest edit was having Juliet wake up before Romeo has died from the poison. We see how close they were to being happy together and see how their rash actions led them to this fate. In Zeffirelli’s version the script edits are not as dramatic and draw away from the heightened emotion of the scene.
Zeffirelli’s script loses its focus of romance and intensity by including lines from or about characters other than Romeo and Juliet. At one point during Romeo’s dialogue he notices Tybalt’s dead body and begins to talk about Tybalt. These lines completely shift the focus of Romeo worshipping Juliet and ruin his heartbroken reunion with her. Zeffirelli also includes Friar Laurence coming to and entering the tomb to discover Romeo dead and trying to lead a waking Juliet away before she realizes what has happened. This has the same effect as Romeo suddenly talking about Tybalt; it draws away from the intensity and shifts the focus away from the tragedy. Along with script changes, the settings of both film versions are very different and impact the intensity and emotion of the moment.
The setting of Luhrmann’s final scene is exciting and effects the emotion of the viewer. Romeo entering the tomb is thrilling as helicopters and police follow him and he...