The two films of Romeo and Juliet I will be studying is Baz Luhrmann’s film in 1997 and Franco Zeffirelli’s in 1968 The Act 1 Scene 1 focuses on the beginning of the films and the comparisons between them. Franco’s Zeffirelli’s film won an academy awards for best cinematography and best costume design. Baz Luhrmann’s film received an academy award nomination.
At the beginning of Zeffirelli’s film It starts straight with the prologue and the music is very calm, the camera zooms slowly towards the sun, and the narrator speaks in a slow deep voice this gives an impression of quite a hushed atmosphere to the scene. This is very dissimilar to Luhrmann’s film Where It starts with a newsreader telling us of Verona. The music then starts and is very tense and the narrator speaks out the prologue as the words are in bold on the screen. As the narrator says out the Prologue there are fast snapshots of the Chaos and anarchy in Verona. It also includes the Quote “A pair of star cross’d lovers take their lives”. This is shown at the end and the prologue then stops and the Film begins.
In Zeffirelli’s the scene after the prologue goes straight to a high angle shot of the city of Verona and a low angle shot of the Church this symbolises the importance of religion in Verona. It is very sunny and this makes it more realistic as Verona is a very hot place. There is a pan shot of Benvolio with his friends as he walks through the marker square, there are many people around them wearing elaborate clothes and there is a lot of noise in the back. There is a medium shot of when Mercutio and Tybalt get into a argument when Tybalt bites his thumb at Benvolio There is a close up of both their angry expressions this makes us understand how they feel. There is a low angle shot of the ringing of the bells before the fight begins, this signifies them all getting there weapons. When they draw there swords and fight there is a pan shot of all the action, as everyone begins to fight.
There is a High angle shot of all the commotion. When the prince arrives the camera focuses on the feet of the horse and there is then a close up of the prince, the music stops as he tells the Montague’s and the Capulet’s of the Disturbance of Verona. There is then a Long shot of the Prince riding away into the distance. The scene changes and there is a close up of Lady Montague and Benvolio talking about Romeo They are in the shade and the light is very Limited there is also no music, this gives an effect of sorrow as Benvolio talks about Romeo being downcast. There is a long shot of Romeo walking up the path with flowers in his hand this gives and impression that he is lovesick. The music is quite sombre. When they are preparing for the party for Juliet there is a high angle shot of all the preparations and all the servants putting up the decorations. And this shows the wealth of the family.
In Baz Luhrmann’s the scene after the prologue goes straight to the overview of Verona and a High angle shot Of the Statue. There is a medium shot of the Montague boys in the car. The music is very modern and loud and the location is very present day with tall buildings. When they come face to face with Tybalt outside a petrol station the music is very tense and there is a lot of close-ups of Mercutio and Tybalt eyes. When they argue the camera pivots to each of them and the action is very fast, there is only two of them involved in the fight where as in Franco Zeffirelli’s one the whole of Verona becomes part of the chaos. Also in Zeffirelli’s it is Capulet who bites his thumb but in Luhrmann’s it is a Montague who bits his thumb. When they draw their guns there is a close up of both the House Crescents on the guns. And the music then stops and the scene slows down as Tybult drops his Cigarette, this gives us a sense of forbidding as we know there will be an explosion.
When the prince arrives there is a close up of him telling off Tybalt and Mercutio, this shows us his anger in his expression. When the scene changes and goes to Romeo on the beach there is a long shot of him walking and the sun is setting this gives an effect of peace. When the announcement of the Capulet’s party is said, it is on the television and not by letter. When Lady Capulet is calling Juliet there is a close-up of her mouth as she screams and the music is very fast as she rushes around screaming for Juliet. There are many High angle shots of the preparations for the party. There are many great portraits and ornaments in the house this shows us the amount of wealth they have. In the scene where Lord Capulet and Count Paris talk there is a close up of their faces. And the locations are very different to the ones in Franco Zeffirelli’s, when Count Paris is discussing the arrangement to Juliet they are in a Turkish baths and this shows a much modernised setting.
In Franco Zeffirelli’s, he has portrayed the Characters very closely to those in the book. The cast for Romeo and Juliet was Olivia Hussey who played Juliet and Leonard Writing who played Romeo both these characters when cast in 1968 were both very close to the age of their characters in the book. Olivia Hussey was fifteen when she was cast to play Juliet and Leonard Whiting was seventeen when he was cast to play Romeo. In Baz Luhrmann’s film Leonardo De Caprio was cast to play Romeo and Claire Danes for Juliet. Leonardo De Caprio is a very well known actor so caught the attention of many people, so the movie became very popular.
In Franco Zeffirelli’s film, the costumes of the Characters are very elaborate and give an impression of wealth. The Capulet’s wear read and yellow clothes and the Montague’s wear quite dark clothes and usually dark blue, this is to help distinguish them from one another. Both Capulet and Montague’s parents wear thick gold chains with crosses on, this shows their wealth and status and also the importance of the religion. When the prince arrives he wears a noticeable red hat to stand out, and silver armour and thick gold chains, to give an impression of his status. Their speech is in old English and their accent is also in English, this portrays what it is like in the book.
In Baz Luhrmann’s film the costumes of the characters is very hippy and modern, The Montague’s wear beach shirts and silver chains, and have spiked up hair. And the Capulet’s wear leather jackets and shoes, and wear chains. The style of Luhrmann’s has more of a cool style. The parents from both the Montague and the Capulet’s wear black business suites and travel in business cars. The prince of Verona wears a black business suit and wears a gold chain. His room is very elaborately decorated and there is a body guard that stands at either side of him. The speech in Luhrmann’s film is in Old English and but some of the context is changed. The accent is American and this distorts the Portrayal of Verona.
In Franco Zeffirelli’s film, the music is very sombre, through out the film, and mostly stays quite. When the film starts there is music in the prologue, in the marker square when the fight begins, the music is quite tense and gives a impression of chaos. When Romeo is walking the music is quite sad and when they talk it is in the background and gives a sense of sorrow. In Baz Luhrmann’s film the music is very hippy and has a modernised feel. When action begins the music becomes very fast paced, this helps us to feel more included in the film. When there is a Long shot of Romeo on the beach the music is very slow and tranquil and quite solemn.
The mood in Franco Zeffirelli’s is very tragic and quite harmonious, but can also be chaotic. In Baz Luhrmann’s film the mood is very energetic and constantly moving, It is also quite calm in some scenes. The actors in Franco Zeffirelli’s film adapt very well to Shakespeare language and the whole setting fits and matches that in the book, the language suits the way the film is set and gives a impression of the old days in Verona. In Baz Luhrmann’s film the adaptation of the Shakespeare language does not fit in with the setting of the film. Everything is to modernised and does not portray the book. and the Old English does not go with the rest of the film.
In Franco Zeffirelli’s film the colour is very subdued and quite subtle unlike Baz Luhrmann’s whose is very bright. In both films the Cross is a very important icon. This symbolises religion, another important icon in both films is the Capulet and Montague crescents. In Zeffirelli’s gangs are distinguished by the clothes that they wear, as the Capulet’s wear red and yellow clothes and the Montague’s wear dark cloths. In Luhrmann’s The Capulet’s wear shirts unlike the Montague’s who wear leather jackets. This distinguishes them from each other.
In my opinion the audiences response to each film would be that in Franco Zeffirelli’s there is a more realistic view of how Romeo and Juliet really is and it gives you a true portrayal of the book, the beginning of Franco Zeffirelli’s is that the scenes are much longer then Luhrmann’s and are more reliable. I believe that in Zeffirelli’s in was trying to interact more with the audience by using more language and music, and I think that they were successful. In Baz Luhrmann’s film I think that they were aiming to attract the audiences attention. And I think that they achieved that by the loud music and fast paced action.