Roberto Canales Odriozola
Shakespeare in Film
William Shakespeare’s plays are not popular for being literal or simple for the reader’s eye. His form of writing, that involves iambic pentameters and a stylized language that tests the reader’s ability to infer and imagine, forces his audience to dig in the text in order for them to fully understand it. Peoplenowadays have it even more complicated, since he often used words that don’t even exist today. More than four hundred interpretations of his plays have been produced in film since the beginning of the twentieth century. This makes him the most filmed author of all times. Almost every Shakespearean play has several adaptations in film, and that gives room to comparison. Thanks to the unique form ofwriting of the author, a single scene can mean something to someone and a completely different thing to another person. In this paper, a comparison of specific key scenes between two film adaptations of William Shakespeare’s The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet will be made, focusing in the different interpretations of both film directors. The first film is Franco Zeffirelli’sRomeo and Juliet, from 1968, and the other one is Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, from 1996. These two films were made in different decades and with different perspectives and key audiences. While Zeffirelli’s version focused on respecting the original settings and environments of the play, being filmed entirely in Italy in different locations that represented ancient Verona and using swords andoutfits of the time, Luhrmann gave a modern twist to it, using Mexico City and Miami to represent a fictional modern-day “Verona Beach” and adding guns and modern outfits. As the American Film Institute states it: “His aim was to make the film completely palatable to young viewers renowned for their short attention spans and desire to be dazzled.” ("Romeo and juliet:," ) Luhrmann looked for anexpansion of his audience by doing this, because now not only the Shakespeare fans would see the movie, but there is a sudden action and modern theme that could attract other kind of people. In the other hand, Zeffirelli’s film is directed entirely towards Shakespeare fans, respecting every single detail of the original story itself. A similarity between both movies is the actors and actresses thatboth directors chose for the main parts. Zeffirelli’s Romeo is played bye seventeen-year-old Leonard Whiting, and fifteen-year-old Olivia Hussey plays Juliet. In Luhrmann’s film, twenty-two-year-old Leonardo DiCaprio plays Romeo, and seventeen-year-old Claire Danes plays Juliet. Even though there were some permission troubles and critiques because of the use of nudity in young people, the directorsrespected the youth sense that Romeo and Juliet show in the original play. The difference is the type of juvenile acting that the directors requested to these actors. While Zeffirelli’s “view of adolescence is one of impertinence and naiveté. His film is melodramatic and linear, highlighting the role of fate and the sense that the story of Romeo and Juliet could not have ended any differently.”(Martin, 2002), Luhrmann’s “two lovers are more grounded and reflective and show more of an inner maturity and strength of character; his depiction of adolescence through these two characters is more worldly.” (Martin, 2002) To show the different interpretations between the two directors throughout the original play, I have selected two scenes from Shakespeare’s work to fully analyze and compare.After each of these analyses, a relation between the scenes analyzed and the main characters’ persona is going to be made, starting with Juliet in the first scene and concluding with Romeo in the second scene.
In Act 1, Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s original play, Samson and Gregory, from the house of Capulet, appear talking to each other. They speak about how they hate the Montagues, which is...
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