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Romeo and Juliet Film Comparison

Essay by   •  June 2, 2013  •  Book/Movie Report  •  1,541 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,540 Views

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There are not many movies that have been made on the timeless story of Romeo and Juliet, mainly because the story can't change in order for it to be Romeo and Juliet. Staying true to the classic atmosphere is what the 1968 film version by Franco Zeffirelli attempted, which was staying true to the atmosphere of the story, with the setting being Elizabethan times, in the city of Verona. It doesn't stray very far from the story, and uses clothing and matches the setting to the time Romeo and Juliet was written. On the opposite side of the spectrum however, lies the 2002 Romeo and Juliet movie directed by Baz Luhrmann, which takes the classic story, and brings it into modern day Verona, with big buildings, neon signs, guns, and gang wars. One of the most famous scenes from this entire play is the balcony scene, where Romeo and Juliet confess their love for each other. The two movies have two very different versions of this scene; however the Luhrmann interpretation has a much more sincere feeling of love than Zeffirelli's film.

In the 1968 version, the scene is depicted very much as you would expect. Romeo scales the high walls of the Capulet household, and enters the garden area, attempting to stay within the cover of night. The setting in this film is very generic, with trees and various shrubs all around, and the garden is lit by torches and moonlight. The stone castle resides in the middle, with the balcony coming off of Juliet's room. This is certainly quite a bit darker than the 2002 film, as there was no electricity in medieval Verona.

Romeo, who is played by Leonard Whiting, is a young teen, looking to be about 15 or 16. He sports the apparel of the house of Montague, wearing tights and brightly colored clothing. He definitely worries more about not being caught however, as he sneaks his way through the various bushes in order to not be seen by the guards, or Juliet. When he begins reading lines however, he loses a little bit of the feeling of the scene. Whiting's version of Romeo includes many things, which mainly consist of crying, moping, whining, complaining, and just overall not being a very likable person. So in this scene he has already acquired the feeling of an immature young boy, rather than the young man he actually is. His personality is much more feminine as well, where he seems to be flamboyant and enjoys over exaggerating the severity of the situation. One instance of this behavior is after he is banished, he immediately begins wailing and crying, saying his life is over, when in reality, he's lucky to have escaped with his life.

Juliet, on the other hand, is very accurate to the play written by Shakespeare. Played by Olivia Hussey, Juliet appears to be around 12 or 13, which is about the age that Juliet was in the play. She comes out of her room in a very tight dress, and likely a corset, because she just came from the party. When she speaks to herself about Romeo and asks why he has to be a Montague, she truly seems infatuated and frustrated by this fact. It looks as though she really is Juliet, feeling the helplessness of the situation at hand, and it brings the movie to life in a sense, as her position is relatable. Although perhaps not the same situation, many people have felt helpless before, or as if something good was dangled in front of them then quickly snatched away. Up to this point in the movie, Juliet seems much more composed as she has only been seen twice, when she met Romeo, and now. She has a more composed and mature air about her and this makes it easier to take her seriously.

The way the speeches are delivered is very different from the 2002 film. Juliet begins by speaking softly to herself about Romeo, and asking the famous question "wherefore art thou Romeo?" She has no idea Romeo waits below in the bushes, watching her and loving the sound of her voice. When he makes himself known to Juliet, they begin talking with Romeo looking up to the high balcony and Juliet looking down upon Romeo. While Juliet is very convincing in what she says, Romeo seems a little off, as if he's not truly meaning everything he's saying. The sense of two lovers meeting for the first time isn't lost however, and the speeches stay fairly close to the original play.

Almost everything about the 2002 movie is changed, as the setting takes place in a brightly



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