William Shakespeare's Romeo And Juliet

Submitted By berkkk16
Words: 1364
Pages: 6

This is a paper that I wrote about the two adaptations of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. There are two very different versions of this film, the first being the 1967 adaptation directed by Franco Zeffirelli, and later the 1997 film directed by Baz Luhrmann. This paper takes you through the journey of these two films, their similarities and differences, and how with two completely different styles, the same story can still be told.


William Shakespeare's “Romeo and Juliet” is the definition of a timeless love story about two star crossed lovers, trying to make it through the tribulations of their two feuding families, the Capulets and the Montagues. It is a story that has stood the test of time and is a solid definition of a true love story. Though it has been told countless times, each time it is heard, the names Romeo and Juliet are synonymous with love.

Every great story captivates an audience by the way it is told to them. Two men, Franco Zeffirelli and Baz Luhrmann, told the story of “Romeo and Juliet” through their eyes, with two completely different outcomes.

Franco Zeffirelli expressed his interpretation in the 1967 version of the film, giving life to these characters in a major motion picture. His movie became the stance of these characters; and was authentic to what Shakespeare envisioned upon creating this story. In 1997, Baz Luhrmann embarked on his journey of telling this story, giving a completely different spin and face lift to an old classic. He modernized it in a way that would appeal to the present day audience, with the help of two young actors, Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio.

There are several similarities and differences between these two movies. One of the major differences is that the Zeffirelli film takes place in Verona Italy , whereas theLuhrmann film takes place in present day Verona Beach , California . Both settings are effective for the style used to tell the story. Verona , Italy is ideal for it is the city the play was set in. In the Luhrmann version, Verona Beach is a trendy, hip city for the more modern outlook, which is exactly what he was going for with his version of the film.

One of the major similarities between these two films is the language. In the Zeffirelli film, original Shakespearean dialogue is spoken. It is interesting that in the Luhrmann film, they still use Shakespearean dialogue, even when referring to their guns as “swords.” In the Zeffirelli film, the language used is no doubt effective, for it works hand in hand with the scene that is set and the costumes that are worn. It is not as distinctive, and is more natural to both hear and speak. However, in the Luhrmann film, it is unique to see the characters dressed in t-shirts and jeans, riding around in cars and not on horses, and using guns instead of swords, all while speaking in Shakespearean dialogue. This was effective because even it held true to what Shakespeare wanted to say.

In any movie, the beginning sets the tone for the rest of the movie, and for these two films this was no exception. The first ten minutes for each of these films does just that, and maintains that tone for the entire length of the film, That is why it is important to appreciate the beginning of these two films to understand their diversity.

In the Zeffirelli film, the famous opening prologue, “Two households, both alike in dignity…” is spoken by a narrator, as we are then shown a backdrop of an Italian City . The scene is set at a marketplace in the city of Verona . This version of the film was filmed in Italy , and within the first moments of the opening scene, it has a definitive Shakespearean feel to it. The costumes that worn are very traditional; the boys wearing tight stocking pants, along with the ruffled shirts with their family