Cailin Murphy: Film Review

For my blog post in English 311, I have chosen to do a film review on Romeo and Juliet directed by Baz Luhrmann. This post will focus on key scenes throughout the play and conduct an analysis on points within the scene compared to how it appears in Shakespeare’s original text to see what were effective choices or otherwise on behalf of the actors, director, or editing team.

The first scene that will be looked at is found in act 2, scene 2. The scene features the “Montague boys” yelling at Romeo come back to the car after he jumps out as they were leaving the Capulet party. The film scene seems to be a continuation of scene 1, acting as an introduction to scene 2. This is noted by the line “He jests at scars that never felt a wound” (act 2, scene 2, line 47) as Romeo is climbing the wall to return to Juliet. In the original text these are two distinct scenes. In the film, the action of Romeo trying not to get caught inside the Capulet walls is an effective portrayal of the overlying theme of forbidden love. Cutting out most of Romeo’s speech is effective of showing his attempt at being quiet. The back and forth dialogue of Romeo and Juliet’s lines, rather than saying their lines at separate times like in the text, is effective as it is like they are engaging in a conversation without the other knowing. During this scene I was intrigued by the directors pattern of water. This scene predominantly takes place in the Capulet’s swimming pool, which at first viewing of the film I found ineffective. However, upon further research I found that Luhrmann used water as a motif to signify clarity (Reel Club, 2011). See link here:

H2Oooohhhhhh: The Motif of Water in WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S ROMEO + JULIET

The second scene to de discussed is Act 4, scene 1. The instance that Juliet brings a gun when she sees Friar Lawrence, rather than a knife was effective in showing that she was a powerful and potentially violent character in her angry state. This was also effective in giving context to the time frame difference between the film and Shakespeare text. Much of Juliet’s speech was omitted from the film in this scene. Friar Lawrence’s speech overlays shots of Juliet’s actions regarding her consumption of the potion, as well as the consequences if all goes according to plan, which we all know is not the case. This is effective in making time or a series of events seem to pass by quicker than they took place, making it easier on the audience to follow along with the story. It is ineffective as we lose the texts depiction of Juliet’s haste and urgency of wanting to take the potion. This idea can be shown through the quote “Give me, give me! O, tell me not of fear” (act 4, scene 1, line 123).

The final scene to be analyzed is act 5, scene 3. In the first stages of this scene Paris is not killed as he is in the text, however there is a police chase, which I did not find effective in my opinion, seemed excessive, but went along with the feel of the film overall. In the film the audience misses out on much of Romeo’s speech when walking to where Juliet lays in the church. It is said later when Romeo is next to Juliet’s seemingly lifeless body. This is effective in that it makes the walk down the aisle of the church more dramatic. Also, this is an effective use of setting and shots, reflecting back to the flash-forward of Romeo being in the church before the Capulet party. Another choice by the director in correlation to the flash-forward was when Romeo says, “Thy drugs are quick” (act 5, scene 3, line 210). This line was originally said in this scene after Romeo drinks the poison rather than taking the drugs before the Capulet party. I just found this to be choice to take note of.

Through this analytical review, the audience can see the many attributes to the film from the original text that are effective and some not so much and perhaps unnecessary in some opinions. With this being said, over all a good representation by Luhrmann in regards to the original text.

Works Cited

“H2Oooohhhhhh: The Motif of Water in WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S ROMEO JULIET.” Reel Club. N.p., 10 July 2011. Web. 09 Oct. 2016.


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