M. H teacher ENG2D3 21 May 2013 Romeo and Juliet: Text vs. Films Comparison From their representation of characters to their use of language, Zefirelli and Luhrmann take two very different approaches to Shakespeare’s second most famous theatrical work. The 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet, directed by Franco Zeffirelli, is set to a more traditional idea. The historical architecture of these towns provides a somewhat more authentic feel to the film.

The scenery as portrayed in the 1968 film is ‘correct,’ according to description provided within the text of Romeo and Juliet. The 1996 version, on the other hand, is a different story entirely. Set in a city that is made of different parts of Miami, Mexico City, and Veracruz, the story is given a modern feel. The use of modern clothing, as well as guns in place of swords, is also a definitive factor in the film.

The gun, especially, seems to be a point of great interest in this more recent movie.Other factors play into this debate between traditional and modern setting, as well. It can be noted that both Luhrmann and Zeffirelli cast young, attractive actors in the roles of Romeo and Juliet. Another difference is the portrayal of characters. Zeffirelli’s Juliet is an active character, and great emphasis is placed upon her open expressions of desire. The setting in which she was placed at the Capulet ball only serves to reinforce this; displays of fruit and wine, lit archways, rich fabrics, and Juliet’s lavish red dress all point to Juliet’s sexuality.

In fact, a good portion of the movie is devoted to the adolescent development in Juliet as she nears her fourteenth year. Luhrmann’s Juliet, however, is portrayed as a passive and rather inactive character. While she does take her place in the progression of the plotline, more attention is focused on Romeo and the roller coaster of his emotions. While the 1968 Romeo is displayed as a more romantic and sensual character, with his first shot being that of him holding a single flower, the 1996 Romeo is less so.Yes, he is still the dreamy Romeo that society expects, but he is also portrayed as an emotional extremist of sorts. In short, the passive and active roles of Romeo and Juliet are reversed between the two films.

The portrayal of Mercutio in is very different when comparing the movies. Zeffirelli’s Mercutio is truer to Shakespeare’s original text seeing as his demeanor is that of a joker and he is casted as a Caucasian male unlike in Luhrmann’s production where Mercutio is of African-American descent and a troubled drug user.The language used in each film is also a point of interest. While both films use the script of the original text, the execution is very different. In Zeffirelli’s 1968 adaptation, the actors use accents and emphasize in a manner similar to the way the original play might have been performed in Shakespeare’s time.

Luhrmann’s adaptation, though set in modern times, also used the original text’s script. The mix modern intonation and the original script left much of the dialog awkward and slightly stilted.This was particularly noticeable during conversations like those between Romeo and his friends before the ball and Romeo and Juliet at the ball. All in all, the greatest difference between the two films and the text is not guns versus swords.

It is in the setting. Not place setting, specifically, but setting overall. Location, characters, and execution all make these two movies what they are separate them from the play. They provide different interpretations that, though they don’t always stay true to the text, translate the same text and story to film, of ‘Juliet and her Romeo.