Compare and contrast the opening scenes from Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo and Juliet” to these in the Franko Zeffirelli Version

This Media essay is to give a clear analysis of the 1990’s and 1960’s versions of Romeo and Juliet. I will be focusing on their opening scenes and identifying the comparisons and differences between these two films.The Franko zeffirelli version is set in Verona, Italy. It opens over the city then moves to a market place where Abraham and Balthasar ( the Montegues) are. A group of capulets insult the montegues and a sword fight begins. Benvolio, Romeo’s cousin enters to break up the brawl. However before he is able to stop the brawl the capulets enter and tybalt , Juliet’s cousin joins the sword fight and over powers his attempt to stop it. The families from both houses soon join and a large battle is under way. The prince enters on horseback and stops the battle charging them with death if they raise their swords.The Baz Luhrmann version is set in Veronabeach, America and opens with a news report, which leads onto the city and a short preview of the movie. It then moves to the Montegue Boys in a car driving through veronabeach, then parking at a petrol station. The Montegues Sampson and Gregory are filling up the car and the capulets arrive, Abra gets out and scares the Montegues then they insult Abra and a gunfight begins. Tybalt gets out of the car and Benvolio returns from the toilet the gunfight continues. During the brawl Sampson spills petrol on the floor witch Abra lights by dropping a match. As the petrol station goes up in flames you hear a helicopter approaching and a chase away from the petrol station begins, this ends with Benvoilio and Abra dropping their guns. The scene then cuts to captain prince’s office where the families are warned with their lives.The begging of the Franco Zeffirelli version opens over Verona. it shows a large view of the city at night, the dark and dusted streets of Verona lined with stone and dull dark colours these colour schemes fit in well with the medieval period and give a good representation of this. For the duration of the introduction the camera work consists of a large pan over Verona. There is no music during the introduction. Laurence Olivier is the Narrator of the introduction and his speech is very flat which sugests he is reading. Laurence Olivier was very famous when this version was made and this would have been used to promote this film. The imagery in the introduction is focused on religion with churches dotted around Verona.Where in The Baz Luhrmann version it begins in an abstract way as a TV appears in the centre of the screen, the screen switches on to a news report. The other special affects in the introduction are the trailer of the up coming events and the freezes when each character is introduced. The camera moves through Veronabeach from a helicopters view this film uses fast shots and is much more eye catching and enjoyable than the Franco Zeffirelli version.The music starts when the view of the city begins, it is very loud, powerful and has a religious sound, and this also makes the introduction more enjoyable. The colours are urban and use a lot of grey and black witch gives a polluted or busy atmosphere. You can hear the traffic of the city and the sound of helicopter blades as it moves over the city witch also adds to the busy effect being made by the director. There are two narrator speeches in this version one by the news reporter and another over the city. Affects like the trailers and newspaper headline are to keep the attention of the audience. When the camera moves through the city it focuses on religious icons like statues of christ and cathedrals these are catholic icons.Compared to Zeffirellis nostalgic medieval view of the story the Luhrmann version uses a modern setting with the same religious icons and scene.As the scene begins in the Zeffirelli Version you can see dust in the back ground this is a simple effect and is used for the duration of the scene. Other effects in this version are blood and general effects witch show mayhem during the battle. The colour used in this is very dull but the two families have there own contrast, the Montegues wear dark clothes and the Capulets wear lighter clothing. The scene is beige and brown it is very rough colour and makes the scene more realistic. The clothes are of and old style and are very arcate. The camera work is not very sophisticated and mainly uses fixed cameras witch zoom in and out, as a result most scenes start close in and zoom out to view the whole picture. The camera does however take a couple of strange view points like following a sword or behind market stalls this is done to make it more interesting.When Abraham arrives the camera moves to a close up on his face it switches between Abraham and Benvolio’s faces, this is to build tension before the fight begins. There is no music during the sword fight but some slow music witch fits the medieval style very well when they are in the market. Sound effects like the colliding of swords, ringing of bells and overall market commotion give a very real effect to this film and make it gel with the scene perfectly. During this part of the opening you realise that the director has focused this film at an older audience because it tries to show the Shakespeare and not just the fighting. There are references to harlequins and jesters in the clothing they wear. The director uses violence as the source of the humour in this version with things like stabbing Frankfurt in the eye and tripping the old man.However as the scene begins in the Luhrmann version the music is loud and powerful once again it has a religious feel to it and continues until the fight begins. The music is then a slight reflection of western music. The colour is bright and vibrant during the scenes. There was a strong vision of gangland being built by the director as the scene opens between the rival buildings. Both gangs clothing are covered in religious icons and symbols.The Capulet clothing is stylish and expensive where the Montegues clothing is loud and cheep. There is again a contrast between the gangs, the Capulets wearing dark clothing and the Montegues wearing light clothing. Special effects play a major part of this version giving each character a freeze as they are introduced. Slow motion is used to add tension to moments like setting the petrol alight or the silver heel of Abra. Scenes like Sampson being hit by the bag were speeded up as well to make it humorous.The shots and camera work was very fast and it kept your attention throughout the fight. There were weird viewpoints in this version as well with a mirror shot and a scope shot. There were close ups on Benvolio’s and Abra’s faces as they entered this built tension as well. To accompany these visual effects there were also great sound effects stating with traffic and helicopter blades to build the picture of urban life. As the battle begins you hear the match hit the floor and get stamped out by Abra this is used to build tension and make the film enjoyable. There were also gunshots and screams to give a realistic side to the frantic gunfight.This movie uses Shakespearean style speech to get across the point that this is actually a Shakespeare story. The fight is like a spaghetti western, fast moving and long gun fights. Sampson also says hubble bubble to some nuns in his speech this was also written by Shakespeare about witches so religion may have an influence on this as well. The director has used humour so he can keep the original script, for example guns are changed to swords. This version of the story changes some of the less important characters like Sampson and Tibalt this is done because Luhrmann believed that their speech fit in better with the other family.In the Zeffirelli version before the prince enters you hear the hoofs and trumpet these sound effects are used to give importance to the prince. The prince wears dark read and rids a white horse, this also that shows his power and position in Verona are very high. The royal fanfare sounds for his entrance. The camera is from his height and this shows him above all the other people, this also shows his importance. The director clearly wanted to make the prince look powerful so used height to show his importance.In the Luhrmann version the sirens and helicopter blades can be heard approaching before the captain prince is seen. The captain prince is also above the battle when he is seen to show his importance. Captain Prince is wearing uniform and although it is not a royal gown it does show he is powerful and important to his people.These films are very different purely because of who they were produced for, the Zeffirelli version was produced for adults, its historically correct and has used Shakespeare’s script as a back bone to show his’s work and to show what this would be like. Where the Luhrmann version was produced for teenagers, it is fast, modern, funny but still uses the Shakespearean style this is an alternative version of the film where the Zeffirelli version was straight forward.

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