Term Paper: Romeo and Juliet in Play Form

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Romeo and Juliet in Play Form and on Film

Two young 'star-crossed' lovers from warring families fall in love, marry in secret, and die as a result of mistaken circumstances, after the young woman stages her false death and her young husband thinks she is dead and poisons himself. Both the 1996 film version of Baz Lurman's "Romeo and Juliet" and Shakespeare's original version of the romantic tragedy have the same plot, and both begin with images of violence and end with an image of a tentative reconciliation between the Montagues and Capulets. However, while the Lurman film presents the main theme of the play as a conflict between the bad values of the older generation and the disaffected but still hopeful younger generation, Shakespeare's play evolves more as a tale of fate and the fragile nature of love in general.

In the recent Lurman film, the opening scene depicts senseless violence between gang members in 'Verona Beach.' The corresponding beginning in the Shakespearean play shows violence between servants of the houses of Montague and Capulet. Both versions show how corrupt society has become in an age of constant feuding -- even teenagers and servants are involved in constant warfare. From the beginning, the film stresses as its main theme the inability of the old to understand the young. All the young people of the film desire to take refuge in romantic fantasy and gangs as an escape from the materialism and corruption of the world. The film's images stem from a modern sense of alienation, an idea underlined in the overall design of the film which a Pluralist or postmodern pastiche of Hispanic, contemporary, and some Renaissance images that create a sense of confusion mirrored in the lover's own difficulties in finding meaning in their world.

In the film, Juliet's mother is shallow and materialistic, more interested in beautifying herself than her daughter, and Juliet's father is a corrupt, bloated tyrant. The Capulets throw lavish parties and Juliet is clearly uncomfortable and lonely. Only the gentle presence of Romeo is a refuge at the part. But while the film includes an extensive courtship in solitude at the party, in the play the two fated lovers immediately 'connect.' The sonnet in both play and film is immediately 'said' in the original Shakespeare, suggesting the lightening-like nature of the two protagonist's love and its potential for instability, even foolishness. "Lightening-like" is even a phrase that Juliet uses later in her balcony scene.

Also, in Shakespeare's play, Juliet is very young in attitude as well as age. She seems intimidated by the suggestion she should marry. In the film the talk of marriage seems subordinate to the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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