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Romeo And Juliet Comparative Essay

862 words - 3 pages

Romeo and Juliet, written by William Shakespeare, is a tragic love story about two young lovers who are forced to be estranged as a result of their feuding families. The play is about their struggle to contravene fate and create a future together. As such, it was only a matter of time before Hollywood would try and emulate Shakespeare’s masterpiece. This had been done before in many films. Prominent among them were, Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 “Romeo and Juliet” and Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 “William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.” Both films stay true to the themes of Shakespeare’s original play. However, the modernised Luhrmann film not only maintains the essence of Shakespeare’s writings, Luhrmann makes it relevant to a teenage audience. This is done through the renewal of props and costumes, the reconstruction of the prologue and the upgrading of the setting, whilst preserving the original Shakespearean language. Out of the two, it is Luhrmann who targets Romeo & Juliet to a younger audience to a much larger extent than Zeffirelli.

Luhrmann modernised Romeo and Juliet through regular amendments of the props and costumes. In updating these aspects of the film, Luhrmann makes the play more relevant to our everyday modern environment. The actors in Luhrmann’s version carry guns instead of swords. Luhrmann, in an act of ingenious brand the guns with titles such as “Sword,” thus, enabling the original Shakespearean language to be preserved. Costumes differ dramatically between both versions of the film. In Luhrmann’s depiction of the motion picture, the Montagues have buzz cuts and pink hair whereas, the Capulets’ dress in vests and mainly dark clothes. All of these adjustments to the original play contribute to the popularity of the film among younger viewers. Contrastingly, in Zeffirelli’s version of the film the actors appear unintentionally humorous, as they wear obsolete clothing such as tights, tunics and bulging chemises. In modernising these aspects of the play Luhrmann produces a film that is more appealing to a teenage viewer, whilst still capturing the quintessence of Shakespeare’s writing.
Luhrmann further modernised his film adaption by altering the play’s original prologue. The movie begins with a prologue made as a television broadcast. In doing this it informs the audience of the violence taking place between the two families, the Montagues and the Capulets. The prologue differs dramatically from Zeffirelli’s interpretation. The 1968 version of the prologue is retold by a monotonous narrator, who simply tells the tale of the feuding families set over a milieu of an Italian city. In restructuring the...

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