Adetola Adedipe: Romeo and Juliet (Act 2, Scene 2) Scene Comparison

 

Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet (1996)

Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo & Juliet (1968)

Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo & Juliet (1968)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This scene comparison is from Shakespeare’s: Romeo and Juliet. Personally, don’t like this play at all. The romanticized tragic end of the youngsters, foolishness and irrationality of Romeo and Juliet in the name of true love, the fickleness of Romeo, Juliet’s naiveté and the selfishness of their families not accepting their relationship (through their own personal grudges) which drives the youngsters to extreme rebellion makes for a very frustrating experience as a whole whether it is being watched or read. Another reason I chose this play is because they were portrayed in two ways that contrast each other completely and yet bring across the play in a way that did not change my feelings on the play.

I chose to do the famous Act 2 Scene 2 because of the tendency to portray this scene in a certain way it might have been similar in both films but that was not the case.

The setting in Zeffirelli’s “Romeo and Juliet” with it’s classical landscapes in 14th-century Renaissance Italy while Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet” modern day Verona Beach, California. The films automatically follow the tone set from these directing decisions – such as the use of swords in the 1968 film in comparison to the Sword 9mm series gun in the 1996 version- both effective for styles implemented to tell the story.

The actors in each film are very different in terms of age and acting prowess. In the 1968 film, Romeo and Juliet (Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey) are closer to the age (16 and 14) as stated in the play however are both untrained. This enhances the sense of innocence and loss thereof throughout the play yet retaining the theme of youth and passion. In the 1996 version both actors are older (Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio) than in the play and there is a stronger themes of sexuality rather than innocence portrayed which also identifies with today’s perception of relationships.

In the 1968 version we see Romeo in a garden looking up at he balcony before whispering “But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?” (2.2.2-3) and the cameras pans to reveal Juliet. This adds a dramatic effect to this scene which gives off a feeling of curiosity and wonder at this new love. However, in the 1996 version we see Romeo immediately starting to climb and then land in Juliet’s back yard with the glistening water where he proceeds to fumble and over everything adding comedy into the scene. This emphasizes the intrusion of Romeo into a place he does not belong but the symbol of the water represents the purity of their new love while the clumsiness of Romeo adds charm to his character. Later on they are both in the water almost encapsulated in their own world surrounded by the water.

When comparing editing, the 1968 version is slower and less theatrical which can be a positive and a negative thing. The simplicity of the editing makes for more focus on the dialogue and acting which when compared to the other-the-top editing in the 1996 version lets the audience engage more in the film and make for a better watch regardless of the vocabulary. Luhrmann’s faced paced music and dramatic camera shots correspond with the feelings of the audience watching the film. The lights used in the 1996 version are more vibrant and changing in this scene when compared to the 1996 version. The underwater shots in Luhrmann’s version really left an impression on me while Zifferlli’s balcony scene tended to be more on the calm side.

During Juliet’s soliloquy in the 1968 version, the camera is at a long, low angle shot of Juliet looking into the distance on the balcony thinking of Romeo (an unattainable love) while in the 1996 version, there is a closer, high angle shot of Juliet and she is looking upwards. “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other word would smell as sweet.” (2.2.43-44)

The costumes in the scene are similar due to Juliet being in a nightgown in both scenes, however the 1968 version shows Juliet’s gown to be significantly more low cut than the older actress in the 1996 version. I think this is done to add a sense of maturity to the younger actress which is slightly more unlikable to me (as she comes across completely blinded by this new love and completely loses her sense of self without Romeo). While in the 1996 version, a sense of modesty or innocence is added to the older Claire Danes who portrays a more intellectual and deeper character of Juliet- I also find her expressions so much more sassy.

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Luhrmann's 1996 Juliet

Luhrmann’s 1996 Juliet

Zeffirelli's 1996 Juliet

Zeffirelli’s 1996 Juliet

 

 

 

 

 

 

This iconic scene has elements that are unique to them yet still bring forth the foolish love between these two young lovers. Both directors appealed to the audience of the time and executed their themes consistently through the film and are brilliant for what they are. Different films but same story: Foolish young love and foolish deaths that is in no way romantic. Although, I would like a guy to sneak into my garden at night to woo me – that might be a tad romantic- even I have to admit that.

 

References:

Crowl, S. (2008). Shakespeare and film: A Norton guide. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Luhrmann, B., Martinelli, G. (1996) Romeo and juliet [Film]. Mexico: Twentieth Century Fox

Shakespeare, W. (1597). Romeo and Juliet [Play]

Shakespeare, et al., (1968) “Franco Zeffirelli’s production of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet”

 

Zhen Deng: Film Review

foreshadowing

Baz Luhrmann makes excellent interpretive choices to emphasize the importance of fate in his 1996 film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. Through some may cite its deviations from the original Shakespearean text as demerits, overall, Luhrmann’s use of scenery and film technique to emphasize the importance of fate in his film strongly overcomes any of the film’s shortcomings.

Baz Luhrmann does a great job of emphasizing the role of fate through the introduction of Mercutio in act 1 scene 4. This is achieved by juxtaposing Mercutio’s initial joking attitude with the final seriousness of his Queen Mab speech. Through the use of film technique, a monologue that could be cast aside as random and humorous becomes weighty and serious. Appearing in a short white dress, an overtly fake white wig, and lipstick, Mercutio is initially presented as outgoing character with a wild streak. His initial exchanges with Romeo are light and joking. During these exchanges, the camera alternates between shots of Romeo and Mercutio’s faces. This, along with the director’s choice of high-spirited music, create the initial friendly, humorous atmosphere of the scene.

Suddenly, the high-spirited music stops as Mercutio begins to give his famous “Queen Mab” speech. The speech begins light and humorous as Mercutio describes Queen Mab, a character of folklore and children’s tales. As he begins his speech, the music starts out quiet and mysterious, befitting the subtlety and complexity of the powerful fairy queen. Suddenly, there is a shift in music as Mercutio describes how Mab “driveth o’ a soldier’s neck, and he dremercutio-agitatedams of cutting foreign throats.” The tone has become dark, ominous, and dangerous. Mercutio becomes more and more upset as he describes Queen Mab until he ends his speech with a feral scream. Considering how agitated the previously easy-going Mercutio is directed to become, viewers understand that his speech is not quite as simple as it may appear to be. Upon further inspection, Queen Mab seems comparable to fate – Something that controls “dreamers” and plants horrendous ideas into their minds. Perhaps Mercutio sees that all “dreamers,” including he and Romeo, are controlled by powers beyond their control, and that their “dreams” will end in tragedy, just as the dreams of the soldier and virgin did. Overall, Luhrmann’s interpretation of Mercutio’s Queen Mab monologue lean heavily away from silly, ecstasy-crazed words towards foreshadowing and introducing the importance of uncontrollable fate.

romeo-disbelief

Similarly, act 1 scene 5, in where Romeo and Juliet discover one another’s identities, also emphasizes the theme of uncontrollable fate. While the original Shakespeare text has Romeo and Juliet discover each other’s identities physically apart, Luhrmann chooses to have the two discover this in sight of one another. Though this deviation from the original text may be noted as a demerit by some critics, by changing his interpretation, Luhrmann is able to use specific shots involving Romeo and Juliet to better emphasize the helplessness Romeo and Juliet feel as a result of uncontrollable fate. The slow zoom out on the high angle shot of Romeo at the bottom of the staircase represents the distance he feels from Juliet. Luhrmann’s choice to position Juliet at the top of the staircase shows Romeo’s new perception of Juliet; she is a target high above his reach – Another lost love. Long, lingering reaction shots of Romeo and Juliet doing nothing but staring at each other in shock disbelief seem to further emphasize the role of fate in this play – Characters cannot control their own fate, they can only watch while realization of their terrible fate slowly dawns on them.

scene

The theme of uncontrollable fate reoccurs in act 5 scene 1. The outskirts of Verona Beach, where Romeo sits in exile, waiting for news of Juliet, are dusty, dry, and yellowing. The choice of the setting’s scenery creates a strong sense of isolation. The scenery, paired with shots of Romeo’s inaction at the time of Balzehar’s arrival, seems to emphasize the fact that Romeo’s fate is now completely out of his hands. By manipulating the scenery of act 5 scene 1, Luhrmann again masterfully highlights the importance of fate in his interpretation Romeo and Juliet.

In his 1996 interpretation of Romeo and Juliet, Baz Luhrmann masterfully utilizes setting and film technique and to emphasize the importance of fate. Though his film adaptation is by no means perfect, Luhrmann’s use of setting and film technique to emphasis the importance of fate in his film is extremely well done.

Act 2, Scene 2; Romeo & Juliet 1968 and 1996

     Romeo and Juliet is truly a classic play written by Shakespeare. That is part of the reason I chose to compare the act 2, scene 2 in the films that were made by Franco Zeffirelli in 1968 and also the newer version of Romeo and Juliet made by Baz Luhrmann in 1996. The other part of the reason I chose to analyze it was because I have seen and read the play. The two scenes obviously have the exact same concept behind them, yet they were executed in two extremely different ways. There are certain styles and details, beyond the very contrasting setting that the two directors chose that set the directors and scenes apart. Zeffirelli uses elaborate and over the top acting in order to portray the scene in a heart wrenching love story type of way. While Luhrmann uses a modern-day touch of comedy and a very eerie water setting to enhance the sense of urgency that is in the air while the two lovebirds meet. Both directors execute act 2 scene 2 fairly well, however Luhrmann transports the classic play to a familiar setting in order to have it relate to a modern-day audience, thus in my opinion he did it right.
    

     The settings of each individual film were very specific. Each setting was pivotal in the rest of the directing decisions. Luhrmann could not have made his film theatrical in the same way that Zeffirelli executed his film with elaborate acting and classical landscapes. This is possibly why Luhrmann chose to have it in a modern-day setting. The Verona beach setting enable the classical play to take on a modern-day touch that would easily relate to people in the 1960’s and also today. During the first part of this scene Leonardo DiCaprio who plays Romeo is seen fumbling over patio furniture and causing a ruckus while attempting to utter his “But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun,”(2.2.2-3) line this is only possible because of the choice to have props that tie in with his desired setting of the film. Zeffirelli chose the classical setting that was used to speak to the original context of the play. By having the feuding families and love bird set in the 1300’s the castles and balls and elaborate theater type acting all fits together. When Leonard Whiting is saying the exact same “but soft!” line he is sneaking through the bushes, this creates an entirely different feel for the viewer. The viewer is given a quaint teenage feel that is wrapped in a ‘medieval cloak’.

     Juliet plays a crucial role in this particular scene. Her acting either makes or break the scene. In the movie directed by Zeffirelli, Olivia Hussey who plays Juliet over does the acting. She is so elaborate, awkward and over directed. Her actions are unnatural, she takes unnecessarily long pauses and she looks as if she is forcing her love for Romeo. Hussey’s “O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name,”(2.2.33-34) illustrates exactly how there is no girl on this planet who would ever use facial expressions to that extent while talking to herself alone on her balcony no mater how in love she is.

In the movie directed by Luhrmann, although it is more modern, the acting by
Claire Danes is relaxed and natural. She is able to portray her love for Romeo simply by whispering the exact same “O Romeo” line and all the while keeping her body language calm.

The acting plays an enormous role in the film and the acting by Claire Danes was simply superior.

     Both of the directors generate emotions from their respective takes on this particular scene. Luhrmann’s seamlessly humorous pool scene ties in the Verona beach star-crossed lovers idea perfectly, while on the other hand, Zeffirelli’s 1300’s overprocessed backyard teenage love scene over plays the importance of the feelings and urgency, thus ruining it.
Reilly Kruger

Works Cited and Sources:

Zeffrelli Romeo and juliet 1968— https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0qao2xINsE&feature=youtu.be
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwWsAUpr9eM
1996 Romeo and Juliet viewed on www.moviesub.net/romeo-juliet-1996/2212.html

Luhrmann 1996
William Shakespeare’s Romeo Juliet. Dir. Baz Luhrmann. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., 1996. Web.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ickdnrr9esU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dD5Kl0VvhOo
Shakespeare Text 
http://www.themodernshakespeare.com/home/romeoandjuliettranslation/act2scene2

A Scene Comparison: Romeo and Juliet Act 2 Scene 2

Romeo and Juliet, Act 2 Scene 2 is the most memorable and pivotal scene in the play and I have chosen to compare the way in which the three most popularized films, Zeffirelli (1968), Luhrmann (1996), and Carlei (2013) have interpreted this moment. This scene involves Romeo risking his life to catch a glance at Juliet when to his luck she appears on her balcony. Despite their families being mortal enemies they confess their mutual love for each other and agree to be married.

Zeffirelli and Carlei take very similar approaches and stay close to the traditional imagery of this scene with Romeo sneaking up to Juliet’s window and immediately seeing her on the balcony. Both directors also chose to play a soft tranquil sound track setting the tone of the scene. However, Zeffirelli provided a more believable encounter having Romeo appear from the cover of the trees to over hear Juliet. Her dialogue mirrors the emotion and tone in her voice and she moves from deep though to infatuation over the thought of Romeo. Carlei on the other hand fails to produce a convincing scene as Romeo walks through a courtyard seemingly in plain view of Juliet only to overhear a disappointingly flat and emotionless performance. Her dialogue is cut rather short but in this case that is probably for the best as there was nothing the gain from listening to her monotone rendition.

Luhrmann takes a very different approach to developing this scene and is by far my favorite of the three. Romeo makes a comical entrance crashing through patio furniture only to gaze into the eyes of the wrong woman while Juliet makes her appearance not on a balcony but on the same patio that Romeo is on. Although the proximity of the two can be measured with a few feet I can accept that Romeo is concealed and find this to enhance the comical aspect, concluding with them falling into the pool. Juliet’s final line before being startled illustrates how each film has adapted this scene: “Romeo, doff thy name, And for that name which is no part of thee Take all myself.”

Carlei’s disappointing delivery.

Zeffirelli’s convincing delivery

Luhrmann’s comical delivery

Zeffirelli and Carlei continue to provide a similar style to the scene having Romeo climb up to the balcony to see Juliet. One having him climb a wall of vines and the other having him climb up a near by tree. In Carlei’s version the modern production gives the scene rich props and backgrounds to please the eye but the acting is very boring and low key. I don’t get the sense that these two people are passionately in love but rather simply two actors reading lines. The only thing that elects any emotion in this scene is the accompanying music that gives a sense of joy and triumph.

Zeffirelli successfully draws the viewer in by having the actors confess their love with only the backdrop of ambient sounds at first, relying completely on the integrity of the acting. These characters are believable because their expressions match their words. If you were to watch both version with mute you would still receive the entire message from Zeffirelli. Once they declare to be married Juliet leaves for a moment allowing Romeo to express his boundless joy by bouncing around on the tree he climbed. Both productions end the scene with the two lovers hands slowly sliding apart as they leave, perhaps Carlei is giving a nod to the previous production.

hands 2 hands1

Luhrmann remains consistent in giving us a completely different interpretation of the scene, having the remainder take place in the water. This choice forces the actors to express themselves with only their heads and hands as the rest of their bodies are submerged under the water. Even with the limitation this version delivers the clearest message in my opinion. Juliet shows hesitation and reservation as Romeo goes in to kiss her at first which adds the allure of Romeo having to chase his love. For much of the scene Juliet is slowly moving away from Romeo forcing him to chase her around the pool, like she is playing “hard to get”. After they declare they will be married Luhrmann continues playing with the comical aspect he has already established by having them fall in to the pool once again. The scene ends with Juliet running up to her balcony but instead of their hands slipping away from each other she drops him a trinket.trinket

Although Zeffirelli and Carlei took very similar approaches to creating this scene I feel Zeffirelli was the one who did it right. Even though the production is over 40 years older he was able to deliver a more genuine scene mainly by having good actors. Luhrmann has a more modern take on the scene and has fun with it, breaking away from the expected and allowing the viewer to relate to the characters and because of that I would award this version as the most successful one.

 

References:

Luhrmann

www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_pfzu-brPM

Zeffirelli

www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTbetu76tS4&list=PLsl2fxRmk3kTQNMk-6_OrOKBJbWsWJwyR&index=7

Carlei

www.youtube.com/watch?v=kK11GlFhUSc