I have been looking at act 3, scene 5 ‘The turning point’ in different filmed versions of the play Romeo and Juliet. I looked at three different versions, these are the Dicaprio version, Zeffirelli version and the Shakespeare shorts version. The purpose of me writing this essay is to discuss how and why different directors have portrayed Juliet in the way they have, I will also discuss how close their portrayals of her are to my own understanding of her character.
The Dicaprio version shows a more modern version of the play. Juliet is portrayed as a more independent woman rather than the innocent child like Juliet we see in the other versions.
When she is trying to persuade Romeo not to leave her she teases him, pulls him close but then pushes him away, this shows she does not feel the need to chase after him as she is sure he will return to her. The relationship we see between them show they have more of a partnership than relationship which again refers to the modern day setting as a marriage in Shakespeare’s time would not have been so much of an equal relationship as the women were usually more dominated by their husband.
In this scene Juliet is wearing nothing except for a white sheet. This shows us her nakedness refers to her strong minded personality portrayed in this version, although she is wrapped in a white sheet, showing her innocence.
The music used is of a piano, again quite modern music but does create a romantic atmosphere.
When Lady Capulet Mistakes Juliet’s tears for the death of her cousin tybalt,
‘Ever more weeping for your cousins death?’
and when she threatens to have Romeo poisoned Juliet acts in a different way towards lady capulet then she does in the other versions. Juliet acts quite defiant to her mother she is upset but more angrier than anything, she does not want to marry Paris and does not believe her mother will go through with the threat against Romeo.
Juliet keeps quite a strong tone of voice throughout this scene even when she begins to cry, she also shouts back a lot, showing how mad and upset she is.
Again Juliet acts differently to the other portrayals of Juliet when reacting to Capulets rage about the situation. Her father does appear quite dominating but Juliet does not hide away from him. She shouts back and makes it clear she won’t let them make her marry Paris. She shows she is not scared by using a very challenging tone of voice towards him, which is quite pointless because in Shakespeare’s time she would have had no power to be able to decide on her own future.
When her nurse turns her back on her and advises her to marry Paris Juliet’s reaction is quite shocked, she is devastated she pleads with her nurse to help her and shows lots of passion but at this point she feels hopeless.
The Zeffirelli version is more of a traditional portrayal of Juliet she is more like the classical heroine or the victim in this version. She is an innocent child like young women and not very independent.
The way Juliet acts towards Romeo when she is trying to persuade him not to leave her is of a child like manner. She follows him around the room and keeps touching him symbolising she doesn’t want him to go. She even helps him dress showing she would serve him and she adores as she craves his attention.
Juliet is dressed in an old fashioned long white night gown, revealing nothing. Again the white of the gown proves her innocent childlike figure, she is the victim in the situation.
A romantic atmosphere is created using a harp and violin for the background music, this is very traditional.
Juliet clearly does not want Romeo to leave her, we know this because her movement towards him shows she doesn’t want to let go of him, she moves closer each time he moves away.
When Juliet is told by Lady Capulet she is to marry Paris she cry’s and pleeds to her that she doesn’t want to marry him. She will not face her mother when she gets told symbolising she is not willing to face upto what has happened. She cry’s in a childish ways and lays on the bed sobbing, she is quite immature.
Throughout this scene Juliet is quite loud as she is upset. She screams a lot and cry’s but her tone of voice is not quite as strong as in the Dicaprio version.
Capulet enters the room in a rage and again Juliet’s reaction is different to the Dicaprio version, she is not as strong a character and instead of shouting back she is quite powerless and falls to the floor still crying. She scrambles from person to person hoping for some positive response from someone. She hides behind her bed as she feels safe trying to escape her father’s anger at her.
When her nurse turns her back on her she is quite frustrated, she is very shocked, her nurse was her last person to turn to and she is hurt that she doesn’t see her side anymore.
In the Shakespeare shorts version Juliet is played by a n afro Caribbean actress and the setting on a Caribbean island this is not that traditional as it doesn’t refer to classical Italian landscapes of Shakespeare’s Verona. However Juliet is portrayed in slightly a traditional way.
When Juliet tries to persuade Romeo not to leave her they don’t really talk much just lay on the bed holding each other, This shows Juliet doesn’t want to let go of her lover.
Juliet is yet again showed in a white gown referring to her innocence as in all three versions.
The music used in the background of this scene is the sound of a drum, this is quite an exotic song which seems to fit in with the tropical island setting used in this version.
Juliet’s movement towards and away from Romeo shows her rushing around the room, pushing and pulling him to get him out. She doesn’t act aggressively towards him though she is shown helping him dress as we have seen her doing in the Zeffirelli version.
When Lady Capulet mistakes Juliet’s tears for tybalts and threatens to have Romeo poisoned, Juliet shows she is upset as she is crying but does seem to go along with what her mother says.
‘Indeed I never shall be satisfied with Romeo, till I behold him dead’,
I don’t think Juliet really agrees with her mother, I think she is just agreeing with her as her cousin has just been killed and therefore it would look a bit suspicious if she didn’t want Romeo dead.
Juliet has a week, high pitched, tone of voice throughout this scene, she is very nervous and her voice becomes agitated when talking to her mum about killing Romeo.
Her reaction to her fathers rage is similar to the reaction we see in the Zeffirelli version she is very frightened and nervous, she never turns her back from him and corners herself away. She also uses furniture to separate her from him as this makes her feel more secure.
Juliet’s Reaction to her nurse turning her back on her is an act of disbelief, she shows this by shaking her head, she is so upset she becomes speechless. Juliet grabs at her nurse’s hand in desperation, she has no one else to turn to.
The version of the play which shows Juliet as I would expect her to be portrayed is the Zeffirelli version. I chose this version as she is more how I think Juliet should be as she acts more dramatic, very powerless and innocent. The way she throws herself on the floor, screaming and sobbing is how the directors have portrayed her as powerless. She screams and sobs just like a child would and shows how she is not able to handle all the emotions.
The Dicaprio version wasn’t exactly how I would expect Juliet to be portrayed as it was a very modern version and you wouldn’t expect her to be so confident.
I also wouldn’t expect Juliet to be portrayed in the way she was in the Shakespeare shorts version. My reason for this is because an afro Caribbean actress was used and this wasn’t very likely as there wasn’t many black people in Italy especially rich ones. You also wouldn’t expect it to be set in a tropical island, apart from these points Juliet does act how I would expect her to in this situation a quiet, nervous, scared young girl.
If I was a director and had to direct an actor to play Juliet in this scene then I would try to get an actress that looked similar to how you would expect Juliet to look as in Shakespeare shorts version the actress didn’t seem to look the part.
The costume I would like her to wear would be white as all three versions have used and long like a nightgown. I would use white to show her pureness and I would be long to show her innocence.
The background music I would use would be the sound of something quite romantic like a piano or violin but as the scene goes on I would use more dramatic sound like a drum to signify capulets rage.
I would direct the actor playing Juliet to be a quiet, lovesick young girl around Romeo, following his every move showing her true love for him and begging him not to leave her.
Although I would direct Juliet to act very stubbornly towards her father, as I don’t think she deserves to be treated the way she has been. She should use a stronger tone of voice when talking to her father and dealing with his rage but still be very scared and nervous. She would scatter about the room pleading for help from someone.
The portrayal of Juliet I prefer is the Dicaprio version. I prefer this version because it is more modern. The other two versions are more traditional and refer to Shakespeare’s time a little more but I found the Dicaprio version was more interesting and kept my attention more. I also prefer this version because I enjoyed watching the way Juliet was directed to stand up for herself and shout back at her father as I believe it is right to have a say in your life.
Although I do prefer the Dicaprio version of the play, after looking at all three versions and looking at all different aspects of Juliet’s character like her tone of voice, costume and the way she has been directed to act in the scene. I think the way Juliet was portrayed in the Zeffirelli version was most like my understanding of her character.