The renowned William Shakespeare’s play, “Romeo and Juliet” was directed into two movie versions; the traditional version of 1968 that was directed by Franco Zeffirelli and the modern version of 1996 that followed as directed by Baz Luhrman. Though both directors did their best in putting text into film, there were differences and similarities that cannot be ignored in this context. Most of them are as a result of technological innovations resulting from the difference in time of production and cultural setting of the times.
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In the comparison of the party scene on Franco Zeffirelli and Baz Luhrman films, directors effects is a major factor in both films. Luhrman used exterior and interior effects to portray symbolism whereas, Zeffirelli used costumes. In terms of effects, Luhrman used explosions of fireworks, riotous color splashes, lighting and camera tricks such as the rolling storm among other outstanding visual styles. On the contrary, Zeffirelli used traditional music from the Elizabethan period, disjointed visuals and dialogue as well as music which interfere with other film effects. In a nut shell, though both directors employed the opera medium, Luhrman balanced text, music and visuals to make an operatic film; while Zeffirelli used music without integrating the text and the visuals.
Zeffirelli uses counter culture to portray the intended message by Shakespeare whereas Luhrman uses the camera and the music ambience to achieve harmony. Symbolism is another director’s strategy that is used to differentiate the two films. Luhrman used a fish tank as the meeting point for the protagonists in the film. This was because water emerges as a central thematic element in the film. On the other hand, Zeffirelli used drugs, violence and sex to portray the pop and the Hollywood culture in the film at its modest. Lastly under this section, soundtrack serves as another thread to differentiate the two films. In Luhrman’s film, music follows the tempo of the scenes while Zeffirelli employs inter-textuality which lacks the desired lusture from the viewers. In the party scene also as shown by Luhrman, sadness is portrayed as opposed to Zeffirelli’s playful and happy mood in the same scene. In addition, the meeting of Romeo and Juliet in Zeffirelli’s version portrays light whereas; Luhrman’s scene shows the protagonists to have met in a dark bathroom.
In the balcony scene, Luhrman’s version shows the scene to occur on a light filled balcony though it’s at night. It also adds bizarre to its visuals that advocates for doubts on its accuracy and adherence to the original text written by Shakespeare. Further, the use of swords and chariots is replaced by guns and cars. Luhrman portrays the main character under the influence of drug and this is the mind that the viewer wears in order to fully participate in the film. In addition, the balcony scene is posed as the calmest scene in the film. To some extent, the characters are not well developed to portray the intended messages effectively like in the case of Romeo where he doesn’t show tenderness to Juliet in some parts of this scene. Following this, the aspect of patriarchal power and how it is abused is also brought into this review. Further, outrageous costumes and riotous colors are used to show modernity, love and the youth.
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On the contrary, Zeffirelli’s film version shows the balcony scene in darkness but not in the balcony. This version is neutral and it’s faithful to the original texts of William Shakespeare’s work. The director restores its figurative language in film as well the original paraphernalia. By choosing average diction, the film can be understood by the majority. Though it has been accused of being dull and boring, it emits the original humor and observes soliloquy in character development just like Shakespeare did in his text. In most cases it portrays irony and ridicule though it’s not satirical. Through the selected characters of Romeo and Juliet, Zeffirelli perfectly portrays the innocence and naivety of love at teenage. Further, the manner in which Zeffirelli develops character relationships in the film is in a traditional setting. For instance, the protagonists play hide and seek game which is an old fashioned dating method. A look at Franco Zeffirelli’s film ascertains that, the balcony scene preserve William Shakespeare’s language, stylistic devices, costume and paraphernalia as they appear in the texts. Conclusively, both films are aligned towards the removal of the scene to portray the strong love and passion between Romeo and Juliet that could not be separated. They also ignore the fight between Romeo and Paris.
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