Comparisons in the representation of Act1, Scene One Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” in the film adaptations by Franco Zefirelli (1968) and Baz Luhrmann (1997) have differences and similarities in many elements. Zefirelli set his story in Italy, which portrays the film as an old and traditional one. The town is busy with many villagers buying and selling goods in the market, which seems like an ordinary day for the people. In 1068, there weren’t any “hi-tech” buildings compared to elderly churches, town squares and markets.
The atmosphere is busy but calm because the music played is soothing especially at the beginning. This is a more appropriate setting compared to Lurhmann’s version because that was the way Shakespeare wrote them; in the earlier days there were no skyscrapers or office blocks. However, Lurhmann’s version was very much different because although the setting seems like Italy, it was actually America. The beginning was set on California beach, which was Verona beach in the film. Lurhmann decided to use Mexico as Capulet’s house.
There are skyscrapers built with “Montague” signs written above them, which portrays them as businesses, because that is the only reason I can think that there would be such exploitation of their names. That is evidence that Lurhmann decided to pay attention to detail. The atmosphere is busy but not as crowded and enclosed as the market place in Zefirelli’s representation. Characterisations in both versions are different and are important because they are the main part of the play, which is necessary and can change the style of the play.
Zefirelli showed this importance by making the characters serious and conscious. Their language is formal and standard. It is a tragedy and Romeo enters the play while holding a rose, because he is depressed; this indicates that this version is older because no one nowadays would do that. Sad music is played to deliver the “sad” and rather “pathetic” mood of Romeo’s, he is disheartened due to his love for Rosaline. It seems that he is in a world of his own, in a fantasy/fairytale world. Even his close friend Benvolio sees he is sorrowful e. g. “In love? ” “Out-” “Of love? ”
“Out of her favour where I am in love”. Lurhmann decided to show his characters as humorous and fun people, who love to seek for trouble. They are immature to scream and shout abuse out of a car; like young children. E. g. Sampson “A dog of the house of the Montague moves me! ” which translated means that he is nothing more than worthless, perhaps a “mere dog”. This is one of the major differences in both film representations. There are many close-up shots of the characters, which show their emotions/feelings. E. g. Benvolio’s sweat trickles down his face and his eyes tremble with fear when insight of Tybalt.
There are close-ups of their clothing, heels, guns but mainly their facial expressions. In addition, because of the time difference (1968-1997) Romeo is holding a cigarette instead of a rose when first introduced. This effect suggests that he not a religious and a (more) modern person, which could not be acceptable for the older version. Tybalt shown as a stronger, more powerful and evil villain due to his “malevolence” eyes and facial expressions, even his clothes and body posture present that! Costumes are different; in Zefirelli’s reconstruction, the civilians are wearing traditional clothing.
There is a difference in what the Capulet and Montague’s wear. Capulet’s wear lighter, brighter, adventurous clothes. There are many colours especially reds, yellows and oranges. The styles of the clothes are clownish just like those of a joker. The Montague’s wear dark, sombre and dull colours, which can represent evil (in some sense). The Capulet’s costumes in Lurhmann’s film are mainly vests, dark trousers and tops, which reflect sinful and criminal impressions. Tattoos, piercing and heavy jewellery portray the image of the Mafia, especially as the movie is supposed to be set in Italy.
Which is the total opposite compared to the Capulet’s clothing in Zefirelli’s film. The Montague’s’ wear the opposite again to the other movie; they have outrageous haircuts, brightly coloured hair especially fluorescent pink, tattoos but overall very bright and colourful. The Hawaiian looking lose shirts are left unbuttoned and float in the wind. They look like skaters with their baggy clothes, wild hair (and attitudes) with loud music blaring from their open top car. Even though they wear strange costumes, they reflect a reasonable amount of religious imagery.
E. g. , one of the Montague boys have (Montague” shaven into the back of their head, one Capulet boys have “sin” engraved into silver crowned teeth. Cinematography in both films is differently used. Zefirelli did not use many close-ups shots to emphasis their feelings/danger. The character’s whole bodies fitted into a single frame most of the time; there was no sense of distance/size. The camera focused on side views of the characters. There were no fast moving scenes or different variations of camera shots, which made the film boring, compared to the other one.
There are hardly any lighting involved because most of it was filmed outside, and during the daytime. Lurhmann used a delivery of detail, and special effects, which made the film more motivating to watch. There are endless amounts of close-ups shots to illustrate their emotions, which make the film more appealing to watch. The fast moving scenes from one place to another make it interesting still. There is a lot of emphasis on the feeling all the way through the film, which is a key importance for tension. That is what captures the crowd, it is full of action scenes and a movement that is what people want to watch and pay good money to watch.
Lighting is different because there are neon lights and traffic lights in the city which all portray the film as modern. The music in Zefirelli’s film is calm, jolly and well, very old-fashioned. Mellow sounds from: flutes, strings and quite drums. There are many tingles from bells, and deafening horns especially, when the prince arrives at the town. The music is definitely traditional and probably popular in those times just as our music is important to us right now. It is original and easy to notice the difference, which makes it unique in its own, special way.
Lurhmann’s music is more punk and rockier… louder beats and very lively. There is even a soundtrack available in the shops, if you like the music played in the film you can enjoy it in your own homes. It is not as traditional as the other film, but I am sure both sorts of music are appealing to their own audiences. I enjoyed the music. Zefirelli’s film had some editing but not as much as Lurhmann’s. There was a big, time difference between both films but Zefirelli’s is the oldest compared to Lurhmann’s one. Zefirelli has kept to the basic story but Lurhmann’s has not.
He has lost most of the original speech, which was found in the text. In addition, I have noticed that the Capulet boys also say speech, which is supposed to be said by the Montague boys. This makes it very difficult to follow if using the textbook. This is unfortunate for school students who have to study the text. The Montague boys originally started the “brawl” in the Lurhmann’s version yet, again Zefirelli’s kept to the story because the Capulet boys started the “brawl”. Lurhmann makes Romeo hold a cigarette, but how can he if he is supposed to be religious?
That is why Romeo holds a rose in Zefirelli’s representation. Although, Zefirelli’s film perceived as a more religious film, Lurhmann overcame this problem by screening religious imagery e. g. Montague’s wearing crosses (the sign of Christianity) and sitting outside churches. I have to admit that I liked Lurhmann’s representation better because it was more appealing due to the effects and cinematography; which (I feel) is better than Zefirelli’s version. Obviously, we have to appreciate the time difference, and I suppose that is why I like it more.
The older generations may fancy Zefirelli’s film and the younger generation probably prefer Lurhmann’s version. I enjoyed the music too. However, I do feel that Leonardo DiCaprio did not quite suit the role of Romeo because I perceive him as “Jack” out of Titanic, even though Romeo and Juliet was released out first. He was the main character in both films, but Romeo and Juliet had already been released before and all the “hype” and excitement had been over (1968, receiving a number of awards compared to 1997). Then again, everyone is different and both films were successful in their own ways.