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Comparing The Opening Shots In Baz Luhrmann And Franco Zeffirelli's Versions Of Romeo And Juliet

2427 words - 10 pages

Comparing The Opening Shots in Baz Luhrmann and Franco Zeffirelli's Versions of Romeo and Juliet

This essay will compare two versions of 'Romeo and Juliet' directed by
Baz Luhrmann and Franco Zeffirelli. In order for me to comment on both
versions of 'Romeo and Juliet' I will compare the opening shots, the
way the main characters are introduced and the types of music and
costumes used in each version.

Baz Luhrmann's film takes place in contemporary America. The latest
version of Romeo and Juliet was filmed in 1997 at Verona Beach,
California. The director chose this area because it is somewhat exotic
and because it is seen as a city -state with its importance in
America. It's also an area young people find interesting because the
people there have a lifestyle young people aspire to. Baz Luhrmann's
setting was deliberately modern to make the story of Romeo and Juliet
more accessible to younger people and to show its relevance in the 20th
century. The background of petrol stations, highways and tall
buildings makes the setting familiar to a modern audience. In contrast
Zeffirelli's filmversion is set in Renaissance times. The sixties was
a time when young love was much to the fore with all its rebellion and
youth culture. It was filmed in 1968 on location in Verona in Italy
where Shakespeare's play was set. The props and clothes belong to the
Elizabethan times. Zeffirelli is trying to recreate the setting of
Romeo and Juliet as closely as possible to how Shakespeare imagined
it. This approach has more appeal to an older audience.

The prologue, which is a 14-line sonnet, is present in both versions
of 'Romeo and Juliet'. The sonnet is typical of Shakespeare's works
and is brought forward to the audience in the form of a news flash on
a TV screen in Luhrmann's version and a slide show of eighteenth
century photographs in Zeffirelli's. The prologue gives the audience
helpful information on the latest goings on in Verona, which helps to
fill you in on what is happening. As the prologue continues I become
aware of the original Shakespearian language that is used,

" The fearful passage of their death-marked love."

The use of opposition within the text is effective in conveying the
contrast between Romeo and Juliet and the two families. As well as
this, death and love are opposites that don't normally feature in the
same sentence, causing a strong, instant effect on the audience.

Although the Luhrmann film has a modern setting and opens with a news
anchorwoman reading the prologue from the play, it is read in one go
and there is nothing offered to the viewer to make it clearer. It
seems that Luhrmann wants to set up a traditional presentation of the
words so that when his vision appears it is even more explosive.
Although Luhrmann works hard at communicating the text, the
...

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