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    Franco Zeffirelli and Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet

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    Both Luhrmann and Zefferelli got their point across to the viewer very well using mise en scene as Zefferelli was nominated as ‘best-director’ for an Oscar and Luhrmann nominated for an Oscar too. Zefferelli has directed many films in his career, including ‘Hamlet’, ‘The Champ’ and ‘La Boheme’, which were all very successful. Luhrmann has directed other films such as ‘Moulin Rouge’ and ‘Strictly Ballroom’, both very successful. Baz Luhrmann and Franco Zefferelli both wrote for the younger audience of their day, although today many think that Zefferelli’s work is old and boring.

    Both directors were very successful in their day Luhrmann still is today. Mise en scene is everything in a camera shot but when we analyse it we have to break it down into it’s six sections. These are, costume; make-up; figure positioning; setting; lighting and props, also it is necessary to analyse cinematography and sound and music as well. By analysing mise en scene in this way we now have a clearer idea of the effect the director wanted to achieve.

    For example if the director wants to create a sense of fear the actor would have white make-up on their hands and face so the viewer can see they are cold and scared. Costume and Make-up are both important in portraying the day and age of the time the film is supposed to be set in. Both Zefferelli and Luhrmann directed their versions of Romeo and Juliet at people aged around fifteen to thirty at the time of release. There is an immense difference though because when Zefferelli released his version it was about twenty or thirty years before Luhrmann released his.

    The costume that Luhrmann uses is a contrast to what Zefferelli uses, although they have some similarities, one family wears dark clothes the other bright – in Luhrmann’s version the Montagues’ wear bright and the Capulets’ wear dark, Zefferelli decided to have it the other way around. In Luhrmann’s version the Montague boys wear very loud modern shirts with loose trousers and coloured hair, this signifies that the Montagues are very relaxed and cool among the city.

    The Capulet boys are the opposite of this and wear dark coloured waistcoats and leather jackets with a shirt underneath bearing a picture of Jesus and overall they have a very Hispanic look, this costume portrays that they are religious and that they like to look powerful among others. The Hispanic look gives the effect that they are a bit evil. Tybalt wears shoes with a metal heel, which signifies that he likes to think of himself as “hard” and the leader of the Capulet boys. A Montague has dark make-up around his eyes, which shows that he is always in fights.

    Old Montague and Lady Montague, along with Old Capulet and Lady Capulet, all wear very expensive and posh clothing, signyfiying that the lead their family and it shows their power. The Police Chief and his officers wear the traditional Police uniform bearing their rank, which signifies their power and authority over others. The Nuns at the petrol station, the woman at the petrol station and the newsreader all wear neutral colours, brown and red, to show that they are innocent and not part of the brawls amongst the Montague and Capulet families.

    In Zefferelli’s version, the colours of the costume are reversed, meaning the Capulets are wearing bright clothes, looking like medieval jesters and the Montagues are dressed in dark blues and blacks which suggest that they are peaceful and the Capulets want the attention as they also started the fight. Tybalt wears the same colours as the Capulets, but underneath his bright waistcoat he wears more posh clothes than the other Capulets. The Capulet and Montague parents both wear posh clothes with a velvet cape over the top.

    They are both dark coloured outfits. The Prince and his men all dress very smartly and wear the colour dark red, to symbolise that they are neutral along with the townspeople in the market who wear light blues and browns. Setting and props are used in Romeo and Juliet to create effect: Luhrmann and Zefferelli both use them to show what they want the viewer to perceive them as. In Lurhman”s adaptation there is a complete black room with a television in the middle, this s to direct your attention to the newsreader on the Television so you are not distracted.

    The busy city that is shown, just like the busy marketplace in Zefferelli’s version, depicts the danger and innocence of the townspeople and that they are involved in a brutal battle when they don’t want or need to be. When we see the Montague boys driving down the road, it is as if they are driving to where the action will take place, the Petrol station – the main setting for the action, as this is a neutral place. Like the market place used by Zefferelli, a place where innocent people get involved in the fighting.

    The view of the Capulet and Montague skyscrapers are separated, this signifies to the viewer that the city is divided into two, half Montague and half Capulet. This also occurs in Zefferelli’s version because the Capulets come through on street and the Montagues another: therefore they meet in the marketplace, the heart of the action. The weapon rooms in the Montague and Capulet castles are filled with the families’ weapons. This shows that they are ready to fight and want to fight.

    Props used in the opening sequence are the guns that are used in the fight, sword in Zefferelli’s version: this clearly shows that each family is willing to kill the other family, to make their family the best. The match and the cigar that Tybalt has, shows that he is more sophisticated, as he doesn’t smoke just a common cigarette. The sign at the petrol station that says “CAPULATE VERSUS MONTAGUE – 2ND CIVIL BRAWL” is seen whilst on fire to signify that that news is old and there has been now a 3rd civil brawl.

    The helicopters that the police use to track Benvolio and Tybalt show the authority the police have. Luhrmann also has a white bus shown driving past the petrol station at the start and the end of the scene, which represents the start and the end of the fighting. Zefferelli uses market stalls and food to create a fight scene that involves the innocent. Capulets and Montague men are throwing the food and fighting all over the market stalls, while destroying everything that gets in their way – just like the fire in Lurhmanns version – it destroys the neutral setting.

    The bell that is rung on the rooftop signifies that the fight has started and maybe that it is calling the Prince to break up the fighting the fighting and shortly after he does come to break it up. The sound of music creates the main effect because without it we would not have the full effect that the directors may want to create. The significance of the music that the Montague boys play in their car, is that they are relaxed, calm and the cool dudes of the city. The Piccolo that is played just before the fights starts, sounds like music from a western film, and suggests a gunfight is about to take place.

    The revving and honking of the Capulet car signifies that Abra and the other Capulets are annoyed at the Montagues. The sound of the fire signifies what between them the two families have destroyed in their selfish battles. The gunfire suggests that there is a lot of hate between the Montague and Capulet boys and that they are trying to make their family the better of the two. Once the fight has finished there is the sound of a gust of wind, which signifies the loneliness and everything has stopped so quiet that you can hear the wind blowing.

    A contrast between the Montagues and Capulets in Baz Lurhmann”s modern adaptation of Romeo and Juliet is that the Montagues – the cool dudes – speak in higher more joking voices and the Capulet boys – the Hispanic and more angered of the two families – speak in deeper voices and Tybalt opens his teeth as little as possible to speak. There is a distinct swish like noise for when Tybalt moves fast, when he takes off his jacket and throws it to the side and also when he does a complete turn to shoot at the Montagues, this sound works well with the movement and signifies that Tybalt is a fast, slick and smooth mover.

    Very similar to the noise a cat makes, warning off anyone it does not like and just before it goes into battle, and as Tybalt has been names “the Prince of Cats” I think it is appropriate to relate this noise to him. The screaming of the innocent townspeople in Zefferelli’s version of the play, signifies that they are very scared and do not want to be associated with the fights between the two families. As the camera follows the Prince and his men on their horses into the market place there is a fanfare that summons everybody to stop, this signifies the Princes authority over everyone.

    The way the director positions the actors in their scene, is called figure positioning, it portrays the image that the director wanted the viewer to see in their mind. Baz Luhrmann uses figure positioning well to ensure that you only look at one thing in each shot. He has many close ups. For example the camera follows the Montague boys in their car. The car and the Montague boys take up three-quarters of the shot, drawing your attention to them. The position of the Montagues in the car is significant: it shows that they are rebellious as they jump about shouting at people.

    The way Abra is positioned at the petrol station indicates that he is higher and thinks he is more powerful than the Montagues as he is standing on a little platform. The Montague boys when shooting are shown taking cover behind cars and other objects at the petrol station, this signifies that maybe they are not as daring and confident as Tybalt who is jumping around. As Tybalt is shown preparing his gun he is knelling on the floor and looks into the sky whilst removing his jacket, this position suggest that T maybe praying as he looks into the sky; he is looking to God.

    The way that Baz Luhrmann has positioned the bus at the end of the fight scene, the bus full of innocent people is in the background between Benvolio and Tybalt, symbolising that the innocent public in the bus have been affected by the fighting of the two families as well. After the Prince has seized the brawl there is a still shot in the police station of the two families and the prince. The families are positioned apart from each other with an officer standing next to Benvolio and one next to Tybalt to separate them.

    In Zefferelli’s version the townspeople are bustled together in the market which shows that Zefferelli is trying to make the whole place look as natural as possible for the time in which he wrote it. The crowds gather around the Capulet’s and Montague’s to watch them as they argue, a few of the market goers try to break it up meaning that they do not want to be part of yet another brawl between the families, but when it breaks out into a major fight, the townspeople run for their lives because they are in fear of the viscious fighting in a public place.

    The princes horsemen position themselves quite spread out to create a big as gap as possible between the Montague’s and Capulet’s as they seize fighting. The lighting aspect of mise en scene enhances the image that we create in our minds whilst watching a film. The significance of the room being dark and the only light coming from the television is to draw your attention to the newsreader.

    The view of each families parents getting out of their limousine is in the dark at night time which suggests that they are evil and want to destroy the other family, and also as Old Capulet and Old Montague are in shop with a dark background after the fight suggests they have sinned. There is a lot of light in the shot where the Montagues are shown driving, which signifies that they are the good guys between the two families and also that they are more relaxed.

    As the Capulets pull onto the forecourt of the petrol station in a moving shot, which follows the Capulets car moving towards the camera, there is a dark shadow around the bottom of the car, this indicates the darkness and evil of the Capulet boys. The Capulet boys stay around the petrol station shop area where it is considerably darker than where the Montague are parked, nearer the road in the light, this also indicates that the Capulets are darker and more evil and the Montagues are the more calm and cool, of the two.

    The fire of the burning petrol station leaves a black cloud over the city, the purpose of this is that it shows evil and darkness. In Zefferelli adaptation the lighting does not differ often as it is daytime in the marketplace and everything is filmed around that area. As the fighting is in progress, the dust from the market floor is stirred and creates a dark effect, which symbolises danger to the innocent townspeople. The last aspect that you have to look at to analyse a film fully is cinematography, this is what the camera does – it’s movement etc.

    The camera slowly zooms into the television, this is important because it slowly gets you involved in the film. The quick flashes of the city and what happened after the fighting grab your attention immediately. Frozen camera shots of each character introduces you to them, to ensure you know your character from the start and do not miss any important parts whilst trying to work out who is who. The quick E. C. U’s of Tybalt and BV eyes signify the fear and tension between the two of them. The C. U’s of guns shows that the Capulets and Montagues are armed and dangerous and the M.

    S’s and L. S’s of them using their guns shows they are not afraid to use them. The L. S to M. S zoom, to between the Montague and Capulet buildings shows how separated and apart the families are. The slow motion C. U through Tybalt”s sniper scope reassures us that he wants to kill. Zefferelli uses basic camera shots, like using a ‘dolly’ to follow the Capulets through the market place. Also Zefferelli uses the tilt: the shot shows the Capulets feet as they walk further on, the camera moves up the Capulets body as they walk further. Another shot uses the M.

    S whilst the fights are going on, these shots are more than likely the most up to date shots of the time. In conclusion to thisanalytical essay on the comparison of Baz Luhrmann’s and Franco Zefferelli’s adaptations of William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” I can conclude that every film, television programme and play involves every aspect of mise en scene and has been thought about a great deal by the irector, as he tries to impress, amaze and create a powerful effect to the audiences that watch. When the six aspects of mise en scene are explored fully the viewer gets a clearer picture of what the effect the director was trying to create. ee the more passionate Romeo, his passion for his family and friends, instead of seeing the romantic lover boy, we see the vengeance driven side of him and a bravery so far unseen. The open mind he has thought with is clouded by anger and his judgement is hence forth smothered as he fights to the death but this bravery could also be seen as his stupidity as no matter who kills who, both shall have died in the end as the prince, after fair warning, said ‘if you ever disturb our streets again, your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace. However he did fight for the pride and honour of his friend making a brave and heroic man of the Montagues a more fitting title. It is this scene I chose to study in more detail as I feel the effect Shakespeare intended Romeo to have on his audience in this scene was somewhat different to any other, as so far in the story Romeo has only delivered the element of love, in this scene the aggression may appeal more to the emotions of anger, hate and sadness over the death of his close friend.

    The provocative language used by Tybalt and Mercutio as they taunt each other over exemplifies this. This works because it makes the death of Mercutio seem in vain. In this scene we see almost every character act aggressively towards each other there is only one character who does not and that surprisingly enough is Benvolio as Benvolio has been involved in most arguments even if he hasn’t said anything he was there, Benvolio however is only looking out for his friend Mercutio by taking precaution in the fighting due to the princes words of warning.

    But he fails in breaking the tension as Mercutio continues to parade his pretentious side to his personality by continuing with the taunting, but Romeo with the aura he possesses breaks the tension upon entering the scene without intending to because Tybalt after so vigorously and aggressively conversing with Mercutio turns his attentions to Romeo without a second look at Mercutio this shows Romeo is a man of importance in the eyes of both families.

    The power of the language used by Romeo in this scene is very passionate and if I were to give some advice to the actor performing this scene I would say make sure he understands the text before he says it, this also would be vitally important for anyone acting in a play with old and sometimes confusing language such as many of Shakespeare’s plays. If I were to give the director one piece of advice it would be to get plenty of close-ups of Romeo to exaggerate the feelings he is performing with facial expressions and hand gestures of course it would be important to tell the actor to perform the hand gestures and facial expressions also.

    In my opinion, as a teenager, I prefer Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation is better and more interesting than Franco Zefferelli’s. This is because Luhrmann’s version is mordern to me and in this day and age there are guns so Luhrmann substitutes swords with guns. Also it is more powerful and Luhrmann has adapted the script slightly so that it is more mordern to what Shakespeare would have used. I also like Luhrmann’s version better because of the technology used there is more different types of camera shots and more mordern props can be used.

    The main part of Luhrmann’s version that draws me to it is the powerful music that he uses at the start while some shots of the film are flashing through. Zefferelli’s version would have appealed to a teenager thirty years ago but now it doesn’t because there was not as much technology in those days also the music at the start is very old fashioned and would put most people of today off at the very start.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    Franco Zeffirelli and Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet. (2018, May 26). Retrieved from

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