As part of my GCSE Coursework, I have watched two films, from two different eras. Zefferelli an older, more traditional film made in the 1970’s. And I compared this to Baz Luhrman, a more modern version created in the 90’s.
Zefferelli’s version is more appealing to an older generation, or a person studying at a higher level. It uses more of a traditional perspective and the text is more closely related than in Baz Luhrman’s version. It is set in an old town obviously Verona, and gives the reader the visual image on how it would of looked in the original script, also it concentrates more on what the actors do, and how it was done in Shakespeare’s time. I feel that there is no close relation between Romeo and Juliet and the love between them perhaps could have been shown in a different way or aspect, after all that is what the play was about, the love of both Romeo And Juliet.
Zefferelli’s version is filmed over a wide area, through a large town, market – place and other areas of the city, this doesn’t really give the perspective that Shakespeare would of wanted, as the original Romeo And Juliet play was displayed on a stage, not in a large area. Although Zefferelli’s version is closely linked to Shakespeare’s original text, I feel that the way it was shot doesn’t reflect in the same way, and give the viewer the impression that love is in the air, as perhaps Luhrman’s version suggests. This could be for a number of reasons; the actors could not of been as experienced as the actors chosen for Baz Luhrman’s version such as Leonardo De Caprio, who is a very experienced actor who has worked in such films as Titanic a box office hit in 1997, and Gangs Of New York a more recent film with great success. Also due to the time difference of the films, different technological advances were developed such as Computer Special effects and the effect of rain seen often in Luhrman’s version. Both directors would have a different opinion on the Play and seen various versions to give them ideas on how to shoot the film, and with added own ideas make it better than other versions, and unique to the director in thoughts and the way that the film is shot.
Where as in Luhrman’s version, the play is more modern and adapted for a more modern audience. It is set in a modern United States city, probably originally Miami or LA, but of the purposes of the film it has been re-named Verona Beach.
The whole modern approach to Romeo and Juliet gives a better insight into the original text, and in some ways gives the play a whole new character and life. Although it doesn’t follow the script and the original styles of Shakespeare, some of the original thoughts are kept, but blended into the film effectively; such examples include the small areas that are used, like the Petrol Station in the first scene, the small area that Is used signifies a sort of stage area, and the close rivalry becomes ‘heated’ in this small environment. Also the scene when Mercutio gets killed by Tybalt, is done within a knocked down theatre, they fight on the stage, and around what is left of the seating area, this also reminds the audience that it was originally a play, and in some ways this stays faithful to Shakespeare’s original. Also at the start of Luhrman’s version the introduction tells the story, and what is going to happen, it introduces the main characters and the basic outline of the story, this was common at all plays, because not many could understand the reasoning’s behind the play, this helped to link it together and give an audience a better understanding of the play being performed.
Although the play stays close to the original in the way that the script is written, the whole film is modernized so certain aspects of the text has been elaborated, venue’s changed and text added to give a more modern dramatical effect. Such examples of this include the use of a Petrol Station, I think Baz used this venue for the first fight we see, as a modern viewer could relate to the petrol station better as most have been to one and used one, a market place possibly couldn’t give such a good effect as a market place as they have been around a lot longer, they are more traditional and more people go to a supermarket as most things which are in a market can be found there. A more modern weapon has been used in Luhrman’s version, a ‘Longsword 9mm’ gun. It links well with the more traditional Shakespeare weapon the sword, and within Baz’ version, the two weapons are in a certain way joined together as one to make a more powerful weapon.
Also Character roles have changed within the film, for example in the original text Prince Escalus of Verona has overall charge in the town, but within Luhrman’s version he becomes Captain Prince, Chief of Verona Beach Police Department. This again gives a more modern feel and something the audience could relate to, Princes of towns don’t exist anymore, so the changing of roles to a police chief makes it more understanding for the audience.
Which is more effective? I feel that Zefferelli is effective in its own ways the same as Luhrman’s version, but the complicated storylines and views seem to be shown better in Luhrman’s version. It is more broken down by added scenes and the whole storyline is easier to follow than Zefferelli’s version. Zefferelli’s is made brilliantly, but for a modern person I feel that Luhrman’s version shows what Shakespeare would of wanted. Even though deep analysis is needed in places, it is a lot easier to understand and enjoy than Zefferelli which does nothing for me.
Now I am going to compare scenes within both films, highlight the similarities, differences with each version and the references to Shakespeare’s original text.
I have decided to compare firstly Act One Scene One. This the opening scene needs to be eye catching and effective to get the audience’s attention, I feel that Luhrman’s version of this scene clearly is made better than Zefferelli’s. It is made with little relevance to the original text, but still includes Shakespeare’s main ideas. The ideas clearly shown in Luhrman’s version include barriers throughout, and hatred between both families. At the start, the 1st thing we see is a van pulling away from the middle of the petrol station, both families are placed either side of this van, so invisible to each other, it is only when the van pulls away that heat begins to show, and friction between the families is rough. The use of a petrol station signifies perhaps the hatred between the families, petrol is highly flammable in the same way that any small misunderstanding could spark off a fight between the families, I have suggested the comment ‘A feud waiting to spark’ this links both original ideas with modern ideas, the feuds, original ideas and sparks being the things that start fires, or in this case feuds, the relationship between both families is flammable, and one spark could set the whole thing on fire.
The sign “Add More Fuel To Your Fire” suggests that each time the families feud, the results become more worse and life threatening, as we see through the film, this is correct as a simple fight in a petrol station ends up with the place blowing up, a Montague killed and an all out right Civil Brawl within the streets of Verona Beach. This continues with the killing of Mercutio and Tybalt, and which leads to Romeo’s banishment from Verona.