Baz Luhrmann and Zefferelli's Portrayal of the Opening of Romeo and Juliet

Good Essays
Baz Luhrmann and Zefferelli's Portrayal of the Opening of Romeo and Juliet

"Romeo and Juliet" is a tragic love story on a background of hatred

and animosity. It is definitely one of Shakespeare's most well known

plays, arguably the most well known. The fact that this play is so

well known has presented problems to directors who wanted to try and

stage or film "Romeo and Juliet" - there is more pressure on them to

create something unique and original. The challenge has inspired

several directors. Among these directors are Baz Luhrmann and

Zefferelli, who both felt motivated enough by this play to turn it

into a film. Some aspects of the two resulting creations were very

similar, but in other ways very dissimilar, and the two directors

approached their task in very different ways - and this is what I want

to study.


The opening of a play is very important. It makes the reader decide

whether he or she wants to read on, gives us our first impressions,

and most importantly, it introduces the characters and sets the scene

for the rest of the play. So, when writing the opening of "Romeo and

Juliet", Shakespeare takes care of all these points effectively.

Shakespeare's main aims in this opening are evidently to build up

tension and ambience, present the reader with an atmosphere of

animosity and hatred against which Romeo and Juliet's love is doomed

to fail. I think that he is very successful in this. Scene 1 begins

with servants from the rivalling families fighting, which seems more

trivial and vaguely comical. But when some of the higher status

characters enter th...

... middle of paper ...

... depressed, and what a background for young love, we think.

I think that both directors were inspired by this play - and with good

reason - and each wanted to interpret it their way and somehow make it

their own. They used very different methods, Zefferelli choosing to

make a traditional film in period, giving a classical interpretation

as close as possible to how it would actually have "happened", and

Luhrmann preferring to update the play, drawing in a younger audience

and making it something today's teenagers could better relate to. This

is a play that could withstand any number of interpretations and

re-interpretations. You cannot really say that one of these

interpretations is "better" than the other because they are so

different, but I do think that both directors succeeded awesomely in

what they set out to do.