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Romeo & Juliet

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William Shakespeare is the author of one of the most famous tragedies written, Romeo and Juliet. He hypnotized the people into falling in love with "two star-crossed lovers" with his beautifully written sonnets. Then, many years later Baz Luhrmann did a modern day interpretation of Shakespeare's play.

There is more differences than similarities between the 1996 film and the original play. The movie is a lot easier to understand than the play, however in my opinion I don't believe it captures all of Shakespeare's magnificence. The language and the setting used in both productions is perhaps the most noticeable difference. The Elizabethan setting Shakespeare used was changed to Verona Beach, and the words he wrote were significantly cut and changed into a more modern day language. Some of the characters in the movie are vastly changed or their appearance hints differently than described in the play, to make their role in the film more dramatic. For instance, Tybalt, in Luhrmann's interpretation can be described as a gang member. He is always accompanied by the "Capulet boys" and is usually carrying a "sword" or gun. Another example is Lord Capulet. In the play, Capulet can be described as a highly ranked nobleman with authority over his family: "He shall be endured." (Shakespeare 1:5:78). However, in the movie he seems to lack the "high authority." He is instead portrayed as a control seeking man. The nurse is a materialistic woman in both film and play, as Mercutio remains a free spirited jokester in both productions. A minor difference between play and film, is the lust between Lady Capulet and Tybalt, seen at the costume party in Luhrmann's production. In both play and film, Romeo starts out as a "lover boy" madly in lust with Rosaline, and ends up finding true love upon meeting Juliet. Juliet's personae is also preserved in both interpretations. She too starts out as a young teenage girl who learns to grow and mature through her love for her only enemy. There are more minor alterations in characters between the film and play.

Luhrmann's film begins with a newscaster telling of two feuding families, the Capulets' and the Montagues', the script used it told by the chorus in Shakespeare's original play. Continuing, the first scene is of the Montague boys making rude gestures to Catholic girls and nuns while putting gas in their car, then the Capulet boys pull in and frighten the Montague boys. In fear they bite their thumb at the Capulets, insulting them. However in the play the servants of the Capulets, Gregory and Sampson share their hate for the Montagues. Then they are approached by the serving men of the Montagues, Abram and Balthasar, whom they disgrace by biting their thumb at. After a fight breaks out in both productions, the authority over both settings declares that if there is another disturbance, it will result in death. However, in the play the authority is Escalus the prince of Verona, while in the film the authority is the chief police. In these scenes Luhrmann uses lots of symbolism including the "swords" which in reality are guns.

Another scene that is changed drastically is the balcony scene in the play and how the two lover met. In the film both Romeo and Juliet fall in love at first sight, while in the play Romeo falls for Juliet first. Furthermore, in the play Romeo jumps over a wall into the Capulets' orchard and hopes to see Juliet. While in the film Juliet starts out on her balcony, then she comes down the elevator and walks by the pool. There she declares her love for Romeo using Shakespeare's dialogue. Once she is startled by Romeo's presence, they show their love with word as well as with kisses. In the play Juliet is on the balcony the whole time, she too is startled by Romeo. In my opinion, in the film Romeo and Juliet's

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