Techniques Used to Direct Two Film Versions of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

Techniques Used to Direct Two Film Versions of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
Having watched two different film adaptations of ?Romeo and Juliet?, it is clear to see that the two directors, Baz Luhrmann and Franco Zeffirelli, have used a number of different techniques, quite differently at times, to put across their particular interpretations of the play. These methods and different interpretations are very obvious if you should study the same scene as portrayed in each film. We looked at the introduction and the opening scene of each film to compare the differences between them and found that the differences, though some were more subtle than others, were obvious. Whilst Franco Zeffirelli?s adaptation uses far more traditional techniques, Baz Luhrmann used a far more modern approach to the production of the classic play. Zeffirelli?s film uses the original concept of the film; it sticks to the original setting and structure of the play, keeping the originality at a maximum. Whilst Luhrmann uses a modern concept so that it is easier for the viewer to relate, for example, the setting of Luhrmann?s film is in America, Zeffirelli sets his interpretation in Verona, Italy, where the original play was set. This can help the viewer to relate to the characters and setting.Because Luhrmann modernised the play, he also set it in the present day, again, moving away from Shakespeare?s original script which was set in the 14th Century, the time which Zefferelli chose to set his interpretation. Although Luhrmann modernised his version considerably, he chose to use the language that Zefferelli used in his film, the original script of Romeo and Juliet. I think this was a god idea to keep the language originally used because so many other things in the film have been changed it is almost too hard to tell whether it is based on the same play as Zefferelli?s. In the opening scene of the films, both versions use extremely different techniques to portray the introduction of the play. Luhrmann, again, uses modernisation and starts the film with a news reporter on a television slowly moving closer to the viewer. Along with the plain black background and no music, this gives a very dramatic effect to the start of the film which will get the viewer instantly interested in the rest of the film. Once the television has reached the front of the screen and the news reporter has finished the introduction, the scene immediately changes to a fast and furious collection of clips from modern usa. These clips of chaos, terror and destruction can be used to hint the coming emotions of the film but also to draw the viewer?s attention to the film. In my opinion it is Luhrmann?s way of showing that if Shakespeare had written Romeo and Juliet in the present day, this is the type of chaos that the Capulet and Montague families could cause, a modern twist to the play. As well as the images filmed, the camera effects, editing and dramatic music also add up to make the scene as chaotic as possible. The fast zooming, panning and freeze frames give the effect of a disordered scene which also makes the viewer feel as though they are a part of the mayhem. The characters are introduced as screen captures, or freeze frames, with large bold writing to show their importance in the film. All these are effects used to draw the viewer into the film, growing their curiosity so that they want to keep watching. The effects of Zeffirelli?s version, however, are much different. Zeffirelli uses calm, old-fashioned music in the background of a tranquil 14th Century street with a traditional border of the screen to portray the scene. The introduction is read by a man with a soft tone of voice in a voiceover, these techniques are much different to Luhrmann?s fast-paced technique which changes the theme of the film dramatically. Rather than a sense of disorder, chaos and mayhem, Zeffirelli uses techniques that make the film seem much more civil, almost as though he is making the film for a targeted audience of the 14th Century. Unlike Luhrmann, Zeffirelli does not choose to introduce the characters until they first appear on screen in the next scene. In the first scene, after the introduction of the film, there are again big differences between the two adaptations. The modernisation of Luhrmann?s film is continued in this scene as the characters are introduced to the film. We see the Capulets drive into a petrol station, wearing modern clothes and using modern body language. The whole scene is modern, except for the language, the only concept Luhrmann chose to keep the originality. There is no music in this scene until the Montagues are introduced and they confront each other when the music changes to a western, yet still dramatic, theme to represent the ?showdown? between them. The camera angles of this modernised version are very fast paced, sharp and have many close ups of characters to build the tension and drama of the scene. Zeffirelli?s first scene has much of the same drama but uses different techniques, such as showing wide shots of the fight scene and emphasizing the fierce dialogue with strong body language. Zeffirelli does not use modern techniques to keep the originality of the play at a maximum. Also, to use modern camera techniques like fast panning, zooming and sharp camera angles then it would almost be making a mockery of the time that the film was set because the modern effects would clash with the traditional structure. In Luhrmann?s version, he ties the end of the first scene with the opening scene by using the same dramatic music that he used for the clips of the chaotic streets. Zeffirelli used old, traditional music to open the film but tended to rely on sound effects (screaming, running, dialogue, etc) to make the audience feel as though they are a part of the scene. Zeffirelli used costume to show significance of the families, you can see by the type of clothes they wear that they are of great social significance in that day and age. Luhrmann, however, used other techniques to show significance, the Montague family had expensive, valuable possessions like cars and guns whilst the Capulets had a much more average look about them. I think this failed him in a sense because Zeffirelli tried to show that both families were of the same importance yet Luhrmann made it seem as though the Montagues were in a much higher position socially. In conclusion, the two films, although both based on Shakespeare?s Romeo and Juliet, use extremely different techniques (modernisation, traditionalism, etc) to portray different adaptations of the play. These effects could change the direction of the film completely; does the end result still have the same plot as Shakespeare?s original concept? Both interpretations are unique and effective in their own way, managing to draw the audience into their own adaptation of the classic tragedy perfectly.

Techniques Used to Direct Two Film Versions of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet 9.3 of 10 on the basis of 3548 Review.