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In Baz Luhrmann’s dramatisation, he breaks away from the traditional style of Romeo and Juliet and does a more modern, thrilling interpretation of the play.He tries to incorporate every day modern life issues to make the film more exciting, for example the scene with Mercutio as a transvestite, and how Romeo takes drugs before the Capulet party.
Zeffirelli’s version on the other hand has a completely different approach; it has more of a traditional Shakespeare style that all his plays are performed under. It is in Elizabethan times and is more true to the text than the Baz Luhrmann version.Luhrmann’s characters are considerably changed from the traditional Shakespeare versions, here they are older than in the book, they are both at around 17 to 18 years old, and their knowledge is shown along with it, they seem to know more on sexual areas unlike Zeffirelli’s:’Or any other part belonging to a man’This is from Act two, Scene two where Juliet says this in a humorous manner as she is thinking of what this could be.
All the characters in this version wear modern outfits, e.g. Mercutio’s costume, and Paris’s space suit. The only characters not in modern clothing are Romeo and Juliet; Romeo in Knight’s armour and Juliet as an Angel.
Zeffirelli’s characters are all dressed in traditional Shakespearian dress, the women in formal gowns and dress, and the men in tights. Juliet is wearing a revealing vibrant red dress making her stand out from all the other women who are dressed in beige or darker colours. Romeo on the other hand is dressed in quite usual clothing for that time. Romeo and Juliet are much younger in this text; Juliet is very innocent looking and they both act clumsier. In Baz Luhrmann’s production Romeo and Juliet seem to be aware of what they are doing throughout, but in Zeffirelli’s they stumble about and seem more lost in passion. An example of this is when Romeo stumbles out of the bushes into the courtyard to call to Juliet.The entrance hall in Zeffirelli’s version is very traditional of that day and age; a red brick hall, this and the torches and pillars in the room, give it a very medieval feel. The orchard scene is set very classically, with high orchard walls and balcony. Baz Luhrmann’s version is very different from this as it has an extremely stylish look to the hall with that party in, more impressive architecture, in a 20th century building. The balcony scene here is replaced by the swimming pool scene which is very original and is giving a new modern concept away from Shakespeare’s classic balcony scene.The meeting of Romeo is very differently done in both versions. Zeffirelli’s scene shows Romeo in the party dancing when he sees Juliet from across the hall, and this is shot from his perspective. As the next dance comes on, they spin around in a circle giving the impression that they are lost in each others love. After this is over, a sonnet comes on stage and the camera follows Romeo making his way over to Juliet. The sonnet is singing a piece foreseeing the future of the play, about the falling in love and death of a couple, giving the audience an idea of what is to come.In the Baz Luhrmann version we see a completely different approach to this. After taking drugs, Romeo goes out of control and we see him in the bathroom putting his face in a basin of water. He then looks in the fish tank, and suddenly sees Juliet through it, giving the scene a flirting romantic sense.In Zeffirelli’s version of the play he shoots it from Romeo’s perspective throughout the scene. In Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation he manages to keep it on both their perspectives. In the beginning it is all in Romeo’s perspective up until the bathroom scene where it has it in her perspective with her leading him on, and being led away by her parents. He uses modern camera effects like blurring and uses abstract positioning of the camera to get the more unusual shots e.g. seeing Romeo with his head in the basin of water. Zeffirelli uses conventional methods but uses perspective for Romeo for a lot of the shots; the others are still set or tracking the person in scene.One of the most significant scenes in both adaptations is the Romeo and Juliet ‘balcony scene’ or scene 3. Here Baz Luhrmann creates a scene where they are reborn by the water, relating to baptism. There crazy love is shown in the spinning of them in the pool, lost in there own love. The scene is passionate and uses perspective shots on both characters. As they progress Luhrmann gets a security guard to come out, showing they will risk death for each others love in a less obvious way.When they decide they will be wedded Luhrmann creates a new part, where Juliet hands Romeo a silver cross, to show Juliet’s playing role as in other adaptations such as Zeffirelli’s where Romeo’s role is put at a greater concentration than hers.Zeffirelli’s depiction of this scene is a classic balcony scene, high old walls, a clearing, and a balcony. This scene is shot from his perspective; looking up at Juliet Zeffirelli makes Juliet look very innocent by her huddled on the wall. Keeping to the text and the original age. Zeffirelli shows Romeo’s youth by making him talk an act very rash. In an over excited fashion he stumbles out of the place where he was listening to Juliet, showing he is not yet matured as all he has done so far was considered very ungentlemanly like.As they talk, Romeo climbs up a tree next to the balcony to get closer to Juliet, this is Zeffirelli showing us how love lust he is, climbing a tree late at night to reach her. Unlike Luhrmans there love is more immature, there conversation is more rushed and seems less though through unlike the older characters in Luhrmann’s adaptation. As the scene ends, they have stayed with each other all night. As Romeo leaves Zeffirelli gets them to do the reach where David reaches out to god, showing there contact with each other.Luhrmann’s modern adaptation is showing a side of Shakespeare that is not always seen, and it is assumed that it was originally performed as to the style in Zeffirelli’s. Zeffirelli’s is a more traditional timed one, true to text and shows a more classic approach to Romeo and Juliet giving the audience a passionate classic, Luhrmans is offering a more original picture. Luhrmans and Zeffirelli’s are two completely different approaches of successfully showing play Romeo and Juliet.