The story of Romeo and Juliet is of two people who fall in love only to be torn apart by their feuding families; this was to be the death of them. Act 1 scene 5 focuses on when the two first meet.
A party at the Capulets (Juliet’s family) is being held and a crush of Romeo’s, Rosaline is to be attending. Romeo and a group of friends acquire invitations and go to the party (as they are not invited because they are Montagues). Romeo quickly forgets about Rosaline when he first sees Juliet.
Juliet has been told she is to be married to a man named Paris, she must court him at the family party. She too soon forgets about Paris once she meets Romeo.
After the two meet they are told at separate times, by the same person that they infact in love with their enemies’ children.
This play has been filmed for cinemas on many occasions, each with emphasis on any sections. this paper is going to focus on two of the film adaptations, Franco Zeffirelli of 1968 and Baz Lurman of 1997
Franco Zeffirelli’s version is shot in the appropriate era; it is a costume drama for the period of time it was shot. It is a medieval drama. It was set in Italy and uses characters that look as if they are from an Italian town.
Baz Lurman’s version however, is set in modern-day America. Lurman has used references from the script and given them a modern twist. For instance the play was set in Verona, Italy. Instead of shooting in Italy; Lurman had shot the play in Verona Beach, in the USA.
I would first like to focus on Baz Lurman’s version of the play to analyse this scene in detail.
The Scene has been set in an extravagant and lavish costume party at the Capulets house. Main characters such as Romeo, Juliet, Lord Capulet, Paris and Tybalt all have costumes significant to their purpose in the play. For instance, Juliet is wearing an angel costume. This is to signify that she is the angelic vision of beauty and her presence is meant to elevate the room in some kind of graceful way. Romeo is wearing a knight’s suit of armour. This is to show that he is the stereotype of a heroic figure, and this to is linked with the romantic scene of being carried away by your knight in shining armour. Paris is wearing a space suit costume, this to signify the modern day version if the perfect man to carry you away. Tybalt is wearing a devil costume and smoking a cigar. This shows he is somewhat devilish; this is shown in the play when he is seen taunting Mercutio. This leads to the death of Mercutio and the death Tybalt from the hand of Romeo this causes the two lovers to be separated from each other and their eventual demise.
The mood of the scene was garish opulence and disturbing hedonism. We find an example of this when Lord Capulet is dancing on a table and is wearing a Greek mythological god’s costume made in gold fabric and lifts it to reveal a pair of lurid green sparkly underpants.
The environment in which the two lovers meet is not normal situation
The others characters all wear loud and garish clothes which is meant to symbolise the hedonistic nature of the lives these characters lead. An example of the type of behaviour is when Lady Capulet passionately kisses Tybalt, her nephew. This is not acceptable behaviour in normal attitudes but seems to be accepted here because no one seems to care about what they are doing.
Another could be during Romeo’s drug induced state we can often hear animal noises emanating from some of the characters mouths. This is possibly there to show the primal element of this scene this also enhances the hedonism found in the scene. This also adds the impurity of Romeo and Juliet’s meeting.
The two first meet when Romeo has dipped his face in water to calm his drug induced behaviour. This is when the music changes from a fast paced and wild beat with a heavy bass to a calm, soothing ballad. They spot each other through the fish tank that separates the bathrooms. This is possibly meant to symbolise the separation of the two characters because they are from rival families.
They are also seen running from Juliet’s mother another indication of what they are about to let themselves in for, by eloping without their parents’ consent. They are also seen frequently running after each other and being playful. This shows that they are enjoying themselves and is completely different to the behaviour of the parents.
Romeo’s speech about Juliet before they meet has been cut short but still contains the overall message. This is to compliment the scenes in the film have been set and to keep the pace of the scene fast, and flowing while still getting the point across. This is also reflected in the way that the music has been used to accentuate the feelings in the scene. The music during the main bulk of the scene is fast paced dance music that has a strong pulsating beat and reflects the feeling of hedonism. This then melts into a synthesised version of the song that slides along to show what Romeo is feeling or seeing during his drugged state of mind. It is also punctuated with animal noises from the other guests to make the scene seem slightly threatening and frightening, it also shows the wild and sometimes violent way in which, the characters in the play can react.
When Romeo has doused himself in water, there is a muffled sound and through that we can hear the music change. The pace of the music changed dramatically and is a slow type of romantic sound that reflects the way that the two lovers should meet. The woman singing the ballad is wearing white. This could symbolise the purity of their meeting.
Zeffirelli’s version is completely different to that of Baz Lurman’s interpretation. Zeffirelli’s is shot in a medieval time and uses opulent sets of the castle in which to hold the party. The colours of the scene are rich with guest are wearing warm and luxurious garments. The setting of the party is in the Capulets house again, because that is in accordance with the play. The Capulets live in an extravagant castle, the party is being held in the main dining hall.
The mood conjured in the scene is one of celebration with time appropriate music being played in the background. It is jolly and vibrant and is something that is most likely to be thought of when reading the play itself.
The Way in which Romeo and Juliet meet in this version of the play is different to Lurman’s version of events. In this, we find Rosaline in this section which we do not in Lurman’s version. She at first transfixes Romeo, and then during one of many dance scenes in this piece it follows Rosaline in to the eye of the camera. It cuts away to show Juliet in the brightest and deepest of red dresses to grab your attention or to give the illusion of her overwhelming beauty that catches the eye of Romeo and makes him take notice.
Romeo than recites his speech about Juliet in its entirety. In this scene we notice that Juliet has not seen Romeo first. It is his him who catches sight of her first. This is possibly to show that a patriarchal society was still evident when the film was made and it was not appropriate for Juliet to accost Romeo first
The music of the scene also compliments the way in which the scene has been structured. The scene that the two lovers meet is also punctuated with a balled sung by a falsetto boy, which was popular for the time the piece was set at. The emotion or passion between the lovers seems to be somewhat muted. However this version relies heavily on the text from the play and uses the emotion given in the text to its best advantage.
The structure of the scene was played in exactly the same order as the play. But lines that were originally for Lord Capulet had been given to lady Capulet instead. This I believe was meant to give her a stronger involvement in the scene as in Act 1 Scene 5 she hardly speaks if not at all.
Both of the plays’ host different aspects of the scene that is true to the play; for instance they are both spoken in iambic pentameter they follow the script, the structure of the play is mainly identical. But the differences in the two plays are great. The time periods of the two film adaptations are immense and many would consider that the older play by Zeffirelli followed the script in a better fashion than Lurman’s.
However, I find that Lurman’s version is aesthetically pleasing to watch because of its fast paced mentality and the passion, which I feel, is correctly amplified in this version.
I feel that Lurman’s Version of Romeo and Juliet is a better adaptation of the play because it uses symbols of the modern era to explain section of the scene that could not be interpreted in such a way for a different time period or film. For instance Mercutio’s speech is explained in Lurman’s version as being a drug-induced occurrence. This probably would not have been done in an older time frame or by another director because it would have been as being inappropriate. Another could possibly be the aesthetic nature of the scene it is brightly coloured and is a treat to look at with many different things going on at once most of which is extremely important because this keeps you on the edge of your seat.
It is elements like that in an adaptation that keep the story true but adds elements of something different to make it memorable.