The famous play, “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare, have been adapted into two movies. Zeffirelli directed a historical portrayal of the film, and Luhrmann directed a modern interpretation of the film. Both versions were portrayed in Shakespeare’s original text. Each movie had use a different approach when it came to setting, props and mood. In Zeffirelli’s version, the setting was a recreation of the 14th century, in the city of Verona, Italy along with ambience of classical music, traditional dancing, renaissance clothing and Shakespearean dialogue.
Luhrman’s Hollywood remake called “Romeo+Juliet” had a combination of original Shakespearean dialogue with a modern twist. The ambience was in Verona beach in the 1990’s that included car chases, costume parties and gunfights. The twist of this version was to imagine the tragic storyline in a modern perspective and how it would fit into today’s society. The props in both movies were different. For instance in the Luhrman’s version, money was used instead of gold coins. This is shown when Romeo pays the apothecary for poison.
In this version guns replaced swords. This is shown in the fighting scenes of the movie. Zeffirelli’s had kept the gold coins. An example can be when Romeo gives these coins. He had also kept the swords for the fighting scenes as well, so it can be relevant and historically accurate to Shakespeare’s time. The moods in each movie were very different. In Zeffeirelli’s version the film was very intense and the audience could feel the affection, grief, rage, and enmity of each character. An example can be when Mercutio is giving the famous Queen Mab speech.
In this scene the audience can see that Mercutio not just a joker but he also has a dark side. On the other hand in Luhrmann’s version the mood was very comedic and less suspenseful. This was shown from the more humorous yet passionate actors. An example can at the party when Luhrmann dresses Paris in a spaceman suit to make him look ridiculous and uses him as comic relief. This symbolizes that Paris is not what Juliet wants in a man and knows that Romeo is her true love. The passing of time in Zeffeirelli’s version was slower than the faster paced modern version.
In both films, a few scenes were left out, such as the fight with Paris at the Capulet’s tomb. In conclusion, Luhrmann and Zeffirelli both interpreted Shakespeare’s play, “Romeo and Juliet”, very well. One was presented with a modern-day twist and the other presented in the actual times of the original play. Personally, I enjoyed watching Zeffirelli’s version more because it portrayed the authentic work of Shakespeare and the past of Verona, Italy. There was also more suspense and one could feel the tension and emotions of the characters more.
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