High School Musical

March 13, 2008
By
The First High School Musical




Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare is a piece of artwork that has been performed and adapted into hundreds of different versions and interpretations throughout the world. Two particular interpretations are the 1968 version by Zeffirrelli and the 1996 version by Baz Luherman. Both these adaptations, which were films, took extremely different approaches in almost every aspect of the movies. Both movies contrast greatly in how the director portrays the story, and it these variations and interpretations in these versions that allow Romeo and Juliet to be a timeless piece of work that captivates the audience every time. The differences of the films are remarkable as the 1968 version takes a traditional approach while the 1996 version takes a modern one.

Zeffirrelli’s version of Romeo and Juliet is taken very customarily and appropriate to the script. In this edition, the time period of the movie is similar to the time period that Shakespeare wrote the play. The dialogue and actions of the play almost completely stick to the script and allows for little or no variations to it. Differing from this description of the play is the 1996 version which takes a modern and generally not as expected direction to the story. An example of this is Romeo and Juliet’s first encounter together. In the 1968 version, when they first meet, they see each other and immediately begin interacting and engaging in conversation. This approach of that scene shows a direct translation of words and does not permit for anything that seems unintended in the lines, contrary to this is the 1996 version which takes the approach of them seeing each other through a fish tank. Like Shakespeare, who used redundancy of certain things to enforce symbolism, Luherman used water through out the movie with the fish tank, the pool, and the bath tub. This use could be looked at as symbolism and enriches the story. Both versions allow for the audience to have the same reaction however the differences make the movies almost completely different. Zeffirrelli’s version attracts an audience because it is traditional and is portrayed as Shakespeare most likely had imagined it, while Luherman’s allows the audience to relate more to the characters and makes it a little more real. Another example of these interpretations is the translations of characters.

Romeo and Juliet’s characters all have their own unique and individual identities however it is up to the reader what they take out of the lines. An interesting difference in both films was the portrayal of the mother, Lady Capulet. In the 1968, she is an uptight, strict and proper mother, who doesn’t seem to really care about Juliet, but in the 1996 her role is dramatized. She becomes a comedic relief as her part is very over exaderated and loud, changing the relationship between Juliet and her Mother to a different distance between the two. The distinction in both roles in the films showed how different people saw each role and adapted it to fit their own style. Most likely in Luherman’s the mother replaced the comedic relief that had been taken out of the film. It also changes the rest of the story, such as the mother’s influence on Juliet. Similar to this interpretation is the use of the weapons.

In Rome and Juliet, when Capulet asks for his “long sword” one assumes that he is literally talking about a sword, and that is how it is portrayed in the 1968 version, however in the 1996 version, the longsword is portrayed as a gun, called a longsword. These differences show how simple words, like longsword can be deciphered into many diverse explanations and illustrate how Shakespeare’s work could be interoperated in many ways. This also represents how a story can change over time to please the time periods audience like how Shakespeare’s work has influenced many modern ideas for today.

The concept of Romeo and Juliet has not only directly been adapted, like the 1968 and 1996 version but also the whole idea has been used in popular culture for decades. The most popular examples of these would be West Side Story a Broadway play and movie which takes the story of two groups holding grudges and replaces the characters to appeal to its time period. An even more modern example would be High School Musical another popular musical which uses the same notion. Both the 1968 and 1996 versions of Romeo and Juliet are interesting and likable modifications of Shakespeare’s play that have allowed the story to live on, even hundreds of years later.





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