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Essay: Comparing Romeo and Juliet Movie and Play

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Romeo and Juliet’s: Movie vs Play
William Shakespeare’s “The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet,” set in 16th century Verona, Italy shares differences with Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet,” set in modern day Verona Beach. These stories contain the same characters and conflict, however major and minor discrepancies are galore in the story lines of both formats of William Shakespeare’s creation. Some major inconsistencies occur, such as Mercutio dying at a beach, portrayed as a hero, instead of being at a bar, looking like a fool, Friar Lawrence’s letter is successfully sent to Romeo by mail carriers, however he does not have the opportunity to read it, unlike in the play version, where Romeo does not get the letter from Friar John, and is told the news by Balthazar, and nobody being at Juliet’s tomb to stop Romeo from reaching Juliet, unlike in the play, Paris was there to pay his respects to Juliet. In addition to the major inconsistencies, minor ones are included throughout, such as Romeo and Juliet first seeing each other through a fish tank, then kissing in the elevator, not the dance, the famous balcony scene occurring in a pool, not on an actual balcony, and Juliet pointing a gun at Friar after she points it to herself, threatening to commit suicide. These inconsistencies probably occurred in the play to add a modern and entertaining twist to the Shakespearean classic, leading to the same denouement in both versions of “The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.”
In the modernized version, “Romeo + Juliet,” Mercutio is at a beach, with Benvolio, until Tybalt Capulet makes his arrival. One difference right there is that the three of them are at a tavern in the play, but at a beach in the movie. To follow along, Romeo began the fight, not Mercutio, and Tybalt began to fight Romeo, to the point where blood was shed. Mercutio overlooks these two foes fighting it out, and decides to step in. Mercutio steps in to protect his friend, Romeo, from the dangers of the villainous Tybalt Capulet. Unfortunately, Mercutio dies in both versions of Shakespeare’s “The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet,” never making it to the end of the story lines. However, Mercutio dies portrayed as a hero in Luhrmann’s portrayal of “Romeo and Juliet,” by attempting to save Romeo from Tybalt, unlike in the play, where he is seen as the joker he has always been. Mercutio’s portrayal as a hero probably occurred because of Luhrmann’s dislike of the way Mercutio died in the play. Nonetheless, Mercutio still suffered the same fate that occurred to him in both versions.
In addition to the alterations in Mercutio’s death, the letter from Friar Lawrence successfully makes it to Romeo in the movie’s portrayal of Mantua, however, he never has the chance to read it. This is different from Shakespeare’s play version since Friar John is supposed to give Romeo Friar Lawrence’s letter, unlike in the movie, where a mail service is attempting to deliver the letter. In Shakespeare’s original version, Friar John is held back at a plague quarantine as stated in ACT V, scene ii, “Suspecting that we both were in a house where the infectious pestilence did reign, sealed up the doors and would not let us forth…” (V.ii.9-11), and was not allowed to leave the house where he was held back at to deliver the important message. In the movie, however, Romeo does get the letter from Friar Lawrence, but never reads the important details of his plan. These changes probably took place in the movie because of Luhrmann’s dislike for the Friar John’s failure to deliver the vital message to Romeo.
Paris not being at Juliet’s tomb during the portrayal of ACT V, scene iii in the Baz Luhrmann’s movie version “Romeo + Juliet,” is a major contradiction to Shakespeare’s version, “The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet,” because in the play version, Paris is at the tomb to pay his respects to Juliet as shown in ACT V, scene iii “The obsequies that I for thee will keep nightly shall be to strew thy grave and weep” (V.iii.16-17). However, in the movie, Romeo has no obstacles stopping him from his plans to say his goodbyes to Juliet. In addition, since Paris was not present at Juliet’s tomb while Romeo was there, Paris never died in Luhrmann’s movie portrayal of Shakespeare’s classic, unlike in the play, where Romeo kills Paris, in order to see Juliet as portrays in ACT V, scene iii “O, I am slain! If thou be merciful, open the tomb, lay me with Juliet” (V.iii.68-69). Paris was never there in Juliet’s tomb, probably because Luhrmann wanted to modernize the classic, and to decrease the amount of deaths that took place.
In addition to the major discrepancies that occurred throughout the Baz Luhrmann’s production, in comparison to Shakespeare’s play, minor discrepancies took place in the movie in comparison to the play. One minor discrepancy was Romeo and Juliet first seeing each other through a fish tank at the Capulet manor, and then kissing in the Capulet elevator three times, unlike the play, who portrayed Romeo and Juliet kissing once while dancing. Another minor inconsistency was the famous balcony scene, which, in the play, took place in the Capulet orchard, but in the movie portrayal, the balcony scene took place in the Capulet family’s pool, instead of an actual balcony. Lastly, when Juliet urges Friar Lawrence to help her get through the difficult times with her family, regarding her marriage to Count Paris, she threatens to commit suicide, following the play’s course of actions, however, she points the gun at Friar Lawrence afterward, contradicting the play’s course of events. These changes most likely took place to add a modern feel to it, since most of the events that took place in the play would seen archaic, therefore the movie adopted a modern, and entertaining tone.
In conclusion, Baz Luhrmann’s movie portrayal, “Romeo + Juliet,” greatly contradicts William Shakespeare’s “The tragedy of Romeo and Juliet,” in a number of ways, but still conveys a similar course of events throughout both story lines. Mercutio being portrayed as a hero at the time of his death, the successful delivery of Friar Lawrence’s letter to Romeo, and Paris not being present at the time that Romeo was at Juliet’s tomb contribute to the major discrepancies that contradict what happened in the play. Romeo and Juliet’s kissing scenes in the elevator, the alterations of the famous balcony scene in ACT II, scene ii, and Juliet pointing her gun at Friar Lawrence after threatening to commit suicide if she does not get what she wants are minor discrepancies that occur in Baz Luhrmann’s production which are not as serious inconsistencies. The discrepancies that take place in Luhrmann’s portrayal of the Shakespearean classic are quite different to the play format, primarily because of the modern influence, but all of these discrepancies build up to what is the now the famous “The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.”

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