Romeo and Juliet Essay

ECR By ECR, 28th Aug 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Essays

This is the essay I wrote a few years ago on comparing the balcony scene in two different versions of the balcony scene from Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet.

Comparing Two Adaptations of the Balcony Scene

During the past couple of weeks, we have viewed two different film adaptations for William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet: director Franco Zeffirelli’s version, which was released in 1968, and Baz Luhrmann’s version, which was released almost thirty years later in 1996. After watching the two movies – Romeo and Juliet (1968) and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (1996), one can conclude that both Zeffirelli and Luhrmann comprehended Shakespeare’s same writing very differently. In fact, one can see a lot of striking differences in the balcony scene compared to the original text (Act Two, Scene 2).

Zeffirelli decided to make his version of the film more traditional according to Shakespeare’s time, while Luhrmann chose to create less traditional, but in modern day. Both versions of the film use the original text from Shakespeare’s writing. However, each director omits various dialogues throughout the balcony scene from the original play to fit the context of their respective interpretation (or simply to save time and money), and sometimes a director would add a few more words to complete Shakespeare’s incomplete thoughts. For example, in the original text, Shakespeare writes, “If my heart’s dear love – “, Luhrmann decides to leave Shakespeare’s words, and Romeo’s thoughts, incomplete; whereas, Zeffirelli decides to complete Shakespeare’s words, and Romeo’s thoughts, by adding to Romeo’s dialogue saying, “– I swear, oh, Juliet”. Zeffirelli even replaces a few words here and there throughout the scene to fit his interpretation. For example, “I vow” has been changed to “I swear”.
Since Zeffirelli interpreted Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet traditionally, the setting of the balcony scene in the film took place on the balcony of the Capulet castle, where just like Shakespeare writes, “The orchard walls are high and hard to climb,” (Romeo and Juliet, II, ii). The balcony is difficult to climb, so Romeo climbs a nearby tree multiple times throughout the scene to get closer to Juliet. On the other hand, Luhrmann interpreted Shakespeare’s play differently. Romeo climbs the balcony wall quickly using a ladder placed against the balcony wall by the Capulet poolside. However, when Juliet enters the poolside walking out from an elevator, Romeo simply jumps down from the top of the ladder landing flat on both his feet.

Each director worked with young and popular actors for their movies respective to the time of filming. Zeffirelli’s adaptation of the play starred Leonard Whiting as Romeo Montague and Olivia Hussey as Juliet Capulet. In the beginning of the balcony scene, as the audience, Hussey seemed to be trying to act but it appeared as dramatic; on the other hand, she began to act naturally towards the end of the scene. When see was breathing heavily, as though her heart is beating fast, it seemed as though she was forcing herself to breathe in that matter with some hesitation by covering her breast cleavage repeatedly for what seemed as long intervals of time. This is not the case for Whiting’s acting, who continuously – from beginning to end – of the balcony scene (and the remainder of the movie) acted so flawlessly and naturally. Luhrmann’s adaptation of the famous romantic tragedy starred Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague and Claire Danes as Juliet Capulet. In this situation, both actors produced a flawless duo and performance.

Both directors show a similar, if not the same, message to audience. In both movies, the directors show that no one else in the Capulet residence sees Romeo and Juliet together, but thy Lord itself. However, it was more visible in Luhrmann’s adaptation. The Nurse keeps calling Juliet from within her room, but Juliet does not come in right away. So finally when Nurse looks out the window, between the curtains, she sees Juliet in the pool, but does not see Romeo. However, after the Nurse closes the curtains and walks away from the window area, the curtains continue to sway and through the curtains, Luhrmann shows a statue of Virgin Mary, who clearly sees the couple together in the pool. This without a doubt demonstrates the message of this scene is even though you think that that no one can see your actions, there is always someone looking down at you all the time: thy Lord.

Both directors interpreted the balcony scene in their own respective matter, which contributed to making their adaptation a masterpiece for generations of audiences to come.


Balcony, Essay, Romeo And Juliet, Scene

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author avatar Retired
8th Feb 2011 (#)

nice work.

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author avatar Stephen king
22nd Mar 2011 (#)

Well done I truly enjoyed both films and this was very well written.

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