The task set is to watch and analyze the opening sequences to the Franco Zefirelli film and also the Baz Luhrmann version. Both directors have used different techniques in the films to represent different opinions and emotions for the characters. The versions use a narrator to show and explain a storyline but in different ways to each other. One is a modern version and the other uses older fashioned styles and techniques of filming. The Franco Zefirelli film has quite a difference in ideas for the film compared to the novel and stage play.
But back in the days of the Franco Zefirelli film it was said to of been the best of that time, and also was know to be good for the translation from a stage play and then into a film. The opening scene of the Shakespeare play has a narrator of that time of who reads out the prologue. The films prologue has images in the background of the town of Verona of which is where the play is set. In the original stage version the narrator would have stood at the front of the stage and recited the words in front of the audience. Franco Zefirelli’s version of the film has various ideas which were very innovative for the time of making of this film.
The music which he has used fits in so well with the separate scenes which they have been used in. Once used in the opening scene, the music instantly is recognized due to the film becoming so famous; the music was soft, romantic and slow. The voice over (prologue) is used before the opening scene begins. There are many different representations used in the opening scene such as the early morning mist over the city which shows that it will be a hot new start to the day. The director has shown these images to set the scene and to make the film more realistic which is classed as continuity editing.
Franco Zefirelli has used many different types of camera shots to make the film more realistic and also to make it more exciting and make the audience feel as if we are actually there. He uses mid shots and close-ups at ground level in the market scene to show the action and make us feel as if we are there. It also gives the audience a good view of what is going on in the different scenes. The city in which the film is set does not look as if it is a stage play with cardboard cutouts as house which you would expect but it appears to be an actual real city in which it has been filmed.
The selection of costumes in which Franco Zefirelli uses in his version can easily show who belongs to the Montague, Capulet family and also for the two different families. We can tell this by the bright and dark colours used. Once the civil brawl breaks out, due to Franco Zefirelli’s wish to show the amount of chaos it brings to the whole of Verona, he decides to drop the idea of continuity editing and then he begins to use different shots such as long and panoramic views to capture more of the action in one full shot.
Also, when Tybalt enters onto the scene there is an instant close up onto his and his companion’s feet then the camera makes a tilt and then zooms in to a close up of his face. The brawl and all the noise stops and this show that he plays an important part in the play and is the opening to the second part of the brawl. We then see the prince entering into the fight scene and the camera is on the rooftops looking down on him. The trumpets play to represent that someone of importance has arrived which alerts everyone in the street.
The camera follows the prince and then tilts up to show his importance like Tybalt. This shows his authority over the whole town. Baz Luhrmann version of Romeo and Juliet is very different compared to Franco Zefirelli film but in some ways very similar. Baz Luhrmann decides not to use continuity editing because he makes this into a much more modern version and parts of this film can become very hard to follow and believe they could happen in real life. He has also used appealing features to attract younger people to the newer version of the film.
For example the prologue of this version of the film begins off with a zoomed out view of a TV news reader inside a TV and then the camera slowly zooms in on the TV. At the same time as zooming in the news reader is reading out the classic prologue word for word but like a news story, accompanied by images from the film. This immediately shows that this is a modern version of the famous script. Dramatic and loud music accompanies the images and also the voice over of the prologue. The images and titles are flashed on the screen to capture the attention of the audience.
All of this and his camera work show that there is a dramatic film ahead and also excitement which in young audience’s may not generally associate with Shakespeare. Also the camera work uses many different kinds of shots whilst transitioning among images. Both families meet at a petrol station: Unlike the Zefirelli film, which has traditional opening in Verona market place, there are many signs and ideas which show that the director has tried to relate as much as possible to the real script of the original stage play.
Some of these are small extras such as on the bottom of the pistol it says ‘sword’, which links in with the dialogue when the fight begins. During this fight Baz Luhrmann has used slow motion and has also speeded up some of the parts of this brawl; this adds to the exciting effect and emphasizes the importance of the battle. The camera work for this scene has been very carefully thought out; Baz Luhrmann seems to have used ideas from Franco Zefirelli camera work. For example when Tybalt makes his entry in the older version there is a close up of his feet, and Baz Luhrmans also has used this idea in this version.
Also another excellent example of this ‘copying’ of techniques is when the prince enters (in this case police chief); this is a good example because he arrives in a helicopter high up, this is like the first version as him being high up emphasizes his importance. Here it is a helicopter as it is a more modern version of transport compared to the Zefirelli’s idea of a horse which was a modern method of transport then. My favourite camera shot is the way that both directors have use close ups. They have been used nearly exactly the same way in each film.
Both directors used these shots at the beginning of the brawl between the two families. The main close up is on the character that basically begins the brawl. The close up which is used aims directly at the feet of him and his companions. The directors have used this to show that the amount of people in this close up gives the idea that trouble is stirring. I particularly liked Baz Luhrman’s speeding up of a clip in the petrol station with Tybalt. When the enemy begins to drive away the director shows him drop to the ground and whilst doing that he has speeded up the part with him taking off his coat.
This shows a quick action which catches the audience’s attention. He then kisses his weapon (the pistol, i. e. sword-weapon) which shows his violence and aggression, and then shoots at the Montague’s. Overall my favourite opening sequence of the two films is the Baz Luhrmann version. This is because despite the lack of continuity editing I find it much easier to follow and more appealing to the younger generation because it uses much more action and includes more excitement. For example the way that the director has used modern weapons and transport.