Essay Shakespeare's Timeless Love Story Retold in Film

Essay Shakespeare's Timeless Love Story Retold in Film

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“He was not of an age, but for all time!”, described Ben Jonson in regards to Shakespeare (qtd. in Chrisp 62). As research proves, there is no doubt to the truth of this statement. Adding to Jonson’s words in regards to Shakespeare’s timelessness Peter Chrisp explains that “there have been more than 500 film and TV adaptations of Shakespeare’s dramas” (Chrisp 65; Mabillard). Furthermore, in the introduction to Gnomeo and Juliet, a Red Good Gnome says, “The story we are about to tell has been told before… a lot” (Asbury, “Gnomeo & Juliet”). While likely meant as simply another comedic line in film, there is significant truth to that statement. Regarding this, within the theater and film industries Romeo and Juliet is very recognizable. As a timeless love story for generation after generation, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet has been retold several times in film from how it was originally performed, to the films where it was directly adapted, and films where it has been artistically adapted.
As the production that inspired many films, Shakespeare’s original Romeo and Juliet was a tragedy written to be performed (Chrisp 62). Shakespeare’s love story was one of his earliest tragedies with quite the history. Romeo and Juliet is broadly agreed to have first appeared around 1595 (Chrisp 65). From the beginning, it was truly a love story written for the stage. As a play, one of the most important aspects of the story was it’s performance. Shakespeare’s story, “historically set in the 14th century Verona”, was far away from his own home (Johnson). Another fun fact is that during the late 1500s women were played by men, and Romeo and Juliet was no exception (Chrisp 42). Given the evidence, however, it was not the performance that made Rom...

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Chrisp, Peter. Shakespeare. New York: DK Publishing, 2004. Print.

Rosenthal, Daniel. Shakespeare on Screen. London: Hamlyn, 2000. Print.

Gnomeo & Juliet. Dir. Kelly Asbury. Perf. James McAvoy, Emily Blunt. Buena Vista, 2011.

Zeffirelli, Franco, dir. Romeo and Juliet. Perf. Leonard Whiting, Olivia Hussey. Paramount,
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West Side Story. Dir. Robert Wise, and Jerome Robbins. Perf. Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer,
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mayagabrielle. “The Lion King II: Shakespeare’s Pride.” Home. WordPress, 2 April 2012.
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