"For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo."
- William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, 5.3
‘Romeo and Juliet’ is a tragic play about two star crossed lovers written by Shakespeare in 1595. The play is a timeless teenage tradgedy. “The play champions the 16th Century belief that true love always strikes at first sight,” (Lamb 1993: Introduction) and even in modern times an audience still want to believe in such a thing as love at first sight. Act II Scene II the balcony scene displays that romantic notion perfectly.
“The most filmed of all plays, ‘Romeo and Juliet’, with its universal themes… remains uniquely adaptable for any time period,” (Botnick, 2002). Directors Franco Zeffirelli (1968) and Baz Luhrman (1996) provide examples of the plays adaption to suit the teenage generation of their time. Identifying the key elements of each version: the directors intentions, time/place, pace, symbols, language and human context is one way to clearly show how each director clearly reaches their target audience. Overall however Luhrman’s adaptation would be more effective for capturing the teenage audience.
Zeffirelli’s ultimate goal for his version of Romeo and Juliet was to capture Shakespeare’s original intentions for the play while targeting the teenage audience of his generation. Luhrmann’s intentions were different however; he changed the way an audience looks at Shakespeare’s masterpiece by modernising the props, costumes, and sets. Obviously, to match film time quotas Zefirelli and Luhrmann has both cut many lines out of the play.
The different sets used by both directors are another way of showing how different each version is. Zefirelli set his version in Italy, and based it in the 16th century judging by the costumes, props and settings. To add more believability to his film and show his appreciation to great architecture Zeffirelli shot the scene at an authentic 15th century castle. Luhrman has based his version at Verona Beach; America and instead of basing it in the 16th century like Zeffirelli, he had his film based in the 20th century, with mansions, shiny cars and bright lights. While Zeffirelli paced his film in an Iambic pentameter – a traditional Shakespeare pace; Luhrman never kept his film at a solid pace. “By modernizing these aspects of the play, and reconstructing the prologue, Luhrmann creates a movie that is more interesting to the modern viewers.” ("Franco Zeffirelli and Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet." 123HelpMe.com). As Zeffirelli may have believed famous actors would steal his show he instead hired fresh new faces to give the movie a more fresh, innocence value, But Luhrman used well known actors to...