Romeo And Juilet, What Was Lost In The Journey From The Stage To The Big Screen.

3202 words - 13 pages

Romeo and Juliet is, arguably, one of the most popular plays of all time. Since the first performance in the 16th century, audiences have been captivated by the story of two passionate adolescents fighting against the odds to consummate their dream of lifelong love as dissension between their families and inhospitable circumstances threaten to rend their hopes to pieces and divest them of their lives. It is interesting that the play was first produced in The Globe Theatre, for the themes such as violence, love, sex, death, adolescent angst, are natural curiosities, and for some even obsessions, for the world writ large, which is, apparently, the reason the play has enjoyed success among such a assorted group of people for over four-hundred years. However, the reason that the play has been eulogized, glorified, and canonized is not merely the result of the foregoing themes, its ability to appeal to myriad generations, but for its aestheticism and complexity. It has been used as a didactic tool to co-opt students into the world of academic language while improving reading skills and critical thinking abilities. Unfortunately, for many modern readers, (or people watching a traditional theatrical performance) the language is archaic and recondite, precluding them from enjoying the play in all of its manifestations, relying instead on bits and pieces that they can understand to piece together meaning, their ignorance of linguistic and syntactical constructions vitiating their enjoyment of the play. Despite its pervasive presence in the high-schools, many teenagers feel isolated when reading it or seeing a traditional theatrical performance, and when acting themselves, young Romeo's and Juliet's need to have many lines explained to them in detail, the director acting as an exegete, just so that the performance can be half-believable. In many regards, Romeo and Juliet has become something that only the literati can truly appreciate, everyone else nodding and smiling, affecting that they are indeed in-the-know.Director Baz Luhrmann was certainly aware of this dichotomy when he produced Romeo and Juliet in 1996: On the one hand, overwhelming majorities of people have at least heard of Romeo and Juliet and understand the basic storyline. On the other hand, their inability to understand it in its entirety leaves them begging for more, searching for clarity and meaning that always elude them. It is exactly this "missing link" that Luhrmann plays upon in his movie as he uses clever strategies to connect the movie to their lives in a way that reading the play and seeing it on stage can never give them. It is overtly apparent, from the beginning of the movie, that this is not the Romeo and Juliet of the 16th century, but apparently Romeo and Juliet reincarnated and transplanted in late 20th century Verona Beach. After a newscaster reports the prologue on television, making the anachronism overtly palpable, it is repeated ominously as the viewer is bombarded,...

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