Romeo and Juliet on film

We have now seen two highly regarded film versions of Romeo and Juliet. The last one we saw was the Zeffirelli film from 1968 and it has been popular with viewers for many years. In that film the use of  16 and 17 year old actors to play the title roles has been well received. Another factor in Zeffirelli success is his acknowledgement of the historical and geographic locations of the original play. We expect Shakespearean language and many of you preferred this version because it seemed more believable to you as a result. I know that lots of you found this film easier to watch and understand than Luhrmann’s version.

Some people would argue that because you have to listen closely to the language in Baz Luhrmann’s version because of the contrast between the words and the modern dress and setting that it shows Shakespeare’s intention more than Zeffirelli’s. What do you think? Write a comment in response to this. Go here for some reading that may help you.


18 thoughts on “Romeo and Juliet on film

  1. I actually disagree with the fact that Baz Luhrmann’s version portrays Shakespeare’s intentions. Personally I do believe that Shakespeare’s intentions for his plays were not to show off new language, or how different it was from modern language. I believe that Shakespeare was just trying to provide the audience with a gripping play that gives you the bite for your buck. In Shakesperean times work was hard, so going to the theatre was a pleasant break from everyday life. Where the audience could forget all their worries and just be consumed by the magical realism of plays like Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth. I also found that in Zeffirelli’s because the setting was more realistic and the dress fitting, I personally found it easier to understand and follow the story. Although Baz Luhrmann’s version was full of guns and helicopters I found it just a little bit confusing.

  2. I think that that Shakespeare created his plays because he was famous world wide and nothing else was as good as his. I think he enjoyed creating a story and watch as the rapt audience watched the punchline.

    [Do you think you have answered the question though? Which version do you think was closest to Shakespeare’s intentions? 😐

  3. I agree with Kalum in the fact that changing the setting and clothes to fit normal life simply didn’t work for Baz Luhrmann. It was a lot harder to follow and to me, didn’t make as much sense. Zeffirelli has done an amzing job of really capturing the true ‘look’ of shakespeare’s play. It felt more real. Zeffirelli also cast his movie far better then Luhrmann. Leonardo Dicaprio and Claire Danes look too old for the supposedly 16 and 14 year old Romeo and Juliet. In choosing Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey Zeffirelli has made the right move, they look the right age and have the expected physicality.
    Zeffirelli’s version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet id far superior to Luhrmann’s.

  4. Shakespeare had written the plays without cars and guns and casual clothes, in his era shakespear would of had swords, daggers and tights which helped understand that the Zeffirelli film was a shakespearian film and was meant to look like it was made from the play.

  5. I found that Baz Luhrmann’s version really confusing, compared to Zeffirelli’s, partly because it was a mixture between Elizabethan times and modern times. I think that the words that Shakespeare used brought on a lot of meaning by themself, without having to use actors to do it. The costumes and older looking setting of Zeffirelli’s worked a lot better than the other version, with all the modern weapons.

  6. I personally believe that Baz Luhrmann’s version of Romeo and Juliet was alot harder to follow because when Shakespear wrote it there were no such things as cars or guns and this made it really confusing. Zefirelli stayed true to the whole theme of swords and horses which made it alot easier to understand.

  7. I think the old version of Romeo and Juliet directed by Zeffirelli portrayed Shakespeare’s visions of the play more because it was more realistic. The newer version was way too modern, with all the guns and helicopters, and it changed the story.

  8. I think that the modern version by Baz Luhrmann was taking away the drama and magic of an actual Shakesperean play. The helicopters, police cars and modern buildings did’nt really go with what I would imagine a actual play in Elizabetian times would be like. The language was also harder to understand when used in the modern context than in the Zeffirelli version as the lines didnt really fit into the setting. In the Zeffirelli version the language fit the setting better and the messages Shakespere was trying to convey go across to me much better. I think Shakesperes intention was to entertain and inform the more lowly subjects and also have the right amount of violence and drama to keep everyone hooked. I think to see it in the modern setting makes it less meaningful to the audience.

  9. I think that Zeffirelli film from 1968 shows Shakespeare’s intention more as it used settings and Costumes that were appropriate for the play. The modern day Romeo and Juliet was harder to understand because of the clash of times and as a result i think that it was not as shakespeare intented it to be.

  10. I agree with Katie and Kalum that changing the clothes and the setting to portray normal life didn’t seem to work for Baz Luhrmann. For me i found it hard to follow and the actors looked like they were trying to be gangster. In my head Zeffirelli has done a much better job in casting his play he had the actors of Romeo and Juliet looking alot closer to 16 and 14 than Baz Luhrmann has done.

  11. I do not think that Baz Luhrmann’s film is better. For me the langauge and the mordern theme do not match. It distracts me from the gripping situations the story betrayes.

  12. I think that the story line was kept the same and all of the characters and the idea of the play was kept the same. The thing that I didn’t like about Luhrmann’s version was firstly it is a modern version and we don’t speak in Shakespearean now days so the contrast was confusing. Also the fact that they had guns instead of swords. A good part of the original play is the sword fighting and the gun wreck the play.

  13. I think that Zeffirellis version of Romeo and Juliet was good because it contained more realistic Shakespearean scenes from that time and the language fitted with what was going on as Baz Luhrmann’s didnt and it became quite confusing but i preferred Baz Luhrmann’s version better because it was more intense and interesting and captured my attention as it was very dramatic.

  14. I think that Baz Luhrmann’s version of Romeo and Juliet is more superior to Zeffirelli’s version, as it makes the language far more interesting to modern day audiences, through the use of technology, such as guns, cars and other vehicles. also, the use of a modern setting in this movie adds to the action of the film, making it more “palatable” to modern day audiences, with such short attention spans that they can barely manage to sit through the Zeffirelli version.

  15. I found that changing the clothes and setting to make romeo and juliet a more modern version was a bad decision for Baz Luhrmann. I was really difficult to follow as the whole plot had been changed to contrast with a more modern day love. Zeffirelli’s version of romeo and juliet is far better because the cast suits the characters better. Leonardo Decaprio and Claire Danes look far too old to play the charaters Romeo and Juliet. Where as Zeffirelli’s cast suited the day and age of the re-enactment version of Romeo and Juliet.

  16. I found Baz Luhrmann’s version really confusiing because nothing seemed to fit or make any sense. Nothing managed to fit very well so it just made me lost as. But i cannot really say that i preffered it to the other version because i did not actually see any of Zeffirelli’s version but i am told that it is better because it is less confusing and seems more realistic because of the way it is made and acted out.

  17. I reckon the Zeffirelli has been portrayed the best as a shakespeare film. It was a lot easier to follow with the whole olden day setting making it a lot more easier to comprehend. Unlike the Luhrman edition that was hard to understand and the whole setting was very hard to follow.

  18. I believe Zeffirelli’s version was more suitable in this situation. I found the modern setting of Baz Luhrmann’s version didn’t quite fit with the dialogue because its not like you would find people speaking like that nowadays.At least in Zeffirelli’s version it is a foriegn place and time so it helps to justify the differnt use of language and keeps the traditional shakespeare intentions.

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