I am comparing the same scene (act three scene 1) from two different versions of the play Romeo and Juliet written by William Shakespeare. The Zefferelli version which is set in Verona, Italy in the Tudor times and the Luhrman version which is set on Verona Beach, America from the present day.
The clothing worn by the actors are very different in the two versions. In the Zefferelli version all the actors wore tights and Tudor clothing whereas in the Luhrman version the clothing is much more modern. The Montague’s wear loud colourful shirts, jeans and are pretty laid back; the Capulet’s wore black suits, steel heel shoes and look like a mafia gang.
The two different times that the versions were set are shown by certain things that happen in the play. Such as In the Luhrman version all the actors use guns whereas in the Zefferelli version all the actors use swords, all though the language is kept the same in both versions the weapons are called swords. The fight scene also shows differences in time such as in the Zefferelli version, when Romeo goes after Tybalt he chases him on foot whereas in the Luhrman version he chases him in a car.
The fight starts by the Capulet’s arriving to were the Montague’s are situated and asking to bare a word with one of them the exact words were “Gentlemen, good den, a word with one of you” this doesn’t sound like a troublesome comment but these are the first words that lead to a fight.In the Zefferelli version the Capulet’s arrive on foot whereas in the Luhrman version they arrive in a flash car. Mercutio is the only one of the Montague’s to answer, in the Zefferelli version he is bathing in a fountain whereas in the Luhrman version he is chilling on Verona beach. Both these tell the audience that the day is hot so the tension is high and a fight is more likely to break out.
Both Mercutio and Tybalt are passing insults back and forth. In the Zefferelli version the humour is high and the surrounding people just keep laughing whereas in the Luhrman version it’s much more serious and no ones laughing. Then the killer blow is struck Tybalt says “Mercutio, thou consortest with Romeo” which means Mercutio is gay and he is sleeping with Romeo. In the Zefferelli version Mercutio just laughs it off, but is still angry whereas in the Luhrman version Mercutio gets very angry and the speech develops from speaking to shouting telling the audience that Mercutio didn’t find it too funny. A fight is just about to start from this comment when Romeo arrives who is just the man Tybalt wants to see.
Romeo enters the scene with happiness as he has just married Juliet and wants to tell all of his friends, but then he sees Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin and sort of calms down. All the time Romeo is talking to Tybalt he is dropping hints about how he has just married Juliet, such as “The reason I have to love thee Doth much excuse the appertaining rage To such a greeting. Villain am I none; Therefore farewell, I see thou knowest me not.” Romeo is sort of telling Tybalt that he is now family but he doesn’t want to tell him up front because Tybalt hates him. Tybalt doesn’t like the fact that Romeo doesn’t want to fight. He tells him to “turn and draw” which is a saying often used in western films it means they both turn there backs, tack a certain amount of steps forward then turn and both shoot. In the Luhrman version he punches him, kicks him and much more until Romeo starts to bleed shouting at him to “turn and draw” whereas in the Zefferelli version Tybalts just tells him to “turn and draw”.
Romeo still doesn’t want to fight, after all their family now, although no one knows this apart from Romeo and the audience. This is called “dramatic irony”. This causes a much more tense audience as they can’t wait to see what happens next. So instead of fighting Romeo tells Tybalt to “be satisfied” In the Luhrman version Romeo pulls out he’s gun while saying this whereas in the Zefferelli version he just shakes Tybalts hand. In the Zefferelli version the humour is high and Tybalt puts he’s hand in the water as if to say Romeo has germs and everyone laughs, when he takes he’s hand out of the water he splashes Mercutio who is still bathing in the fountain, this is were Mercutio decides to fight, after all, Romeo won’t. Whereas in the Luhrman version Mercutio interferes in Romeo’s fight and fights for him.
There is a sense of fair play in both versions. In the Luhrman version Mercutio drops his gun before fighting. In the Zefferelli version the sense of fair play is much higher. Tybalt has a few chances to kill Mercutio but doesn’t as he is unarmed, when Tybalt has he’s sword to Mercutio’s throat he just tells a joke and everyone laughs, they even shake hands while fighting. This shows that the humour is much higher too, in the Luhrman version there is no laughter at all as it is very serious.
In the Luhrman version Mercutio is stabbed with a piece of glass, but it seemed like an accident as Tybalt was aiming for Romeo but Mercutio moved him out the way. In the Zefferelli version Tybalt looks shocked that he has stabbed Mercutio as if he didn’t mean it, only Tybalt saw the blood on the end off the sword so everyone else just carries on laughing as if it didn’t happen. Whereas in the Luhrman version everyone becomes worried about Mercutio, then Mercutio starts to laugh so the Montague’s laugh with him as he says “just a scratch, just a scratch”. He also says “tomorrow you’ll find me a grave man”. The word grave has two meanings serious, and grave, as in gravestone. So he could be saying it as a joke or he could be saying tomorrow he’ll be dead. In the Zefferelli version the people carry on laughing at him even when he says to one of them to “fetch him a servant”. Before dropping to he’s death he says “a plague upon both your houses”. They only stop laughing when he is officially announced dead. In the Luhrman version when he says “a plague upon both your houses” a storm breaks out to show that something bad as happened. He then falls to his death.
In both versions Romeo is now in fury with anger and wants to kill Tybalt, he doesn’t even think about the fact that he is now he’s cousin. In the Zefferelli version he chases after him on foot whereas in the Luhrman version a car chase breaks out. When they meet the sense of fair play goes out of the window Romeo just wants to kill Tybalt. In the Luhrman version the two cars crash and Tybalts gun falls out, they then fight for the gun, in the end Romeo gets the Gun and shoots Tybalt repeatedly. Whereas in the Zefferelli version they both draw their swords and they fight, at one stage in the fight Romeo loses he’s sword. Usually the fight would stop due to fair play not this time other people even try to stop the person getting the sword back to Romeo.
Then Tybalt loses he’s sword and they have a scruff on the floor then Tybalt gets he’s sword back and is just about to kill Romeo when Romeo picks up a sword and stabs Tybalt in the heart. Romeo then realises what he has done and says “I am fortunes fool” and runs off”.
When the police arrive on the scene all is tearful for Romeos parents and Tybalts too. But in the end the prince has had enough of these public brawls and banishes Romeo.
We still watch Romeo and Juliet even though it was written so many years ago, this is because the moral of the film is that gang wars are bad, the world would be a better place without wars.