Romeo and Juliet Movie Comparison Paper
By: Shelby Campbell
Romeo and Juliet is a tragic play written by the very famous William Shakespeare. It tells the story of two star-crossed lovers as they try to find a place in the world together without dealing with the wrath of heir families’ rivalry. There have been many reenactments of this play. Two of the most famous were the movies, one that came out in 1968 starring Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey, and another that came out in 1997 starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes. Both movies did accurate representations of the original play written by Shakespeare, and yet still differed in many different ways. But despite differences, the main plot of the story was still accurately portrayed to the audience, and both versions are still favorites among families all over the world.
The 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet was exactly how Shakespeare wrote it. It took place in Verona, a city in Spain? And during the same time period and Shakespeare had intended. It was filmed in context to his writing. But the 1997 version had a very different take on when the movie should take place and was filmed out of context. This movie was placed in the present, which, at that time, was the late 90’s. Watching Romeo and Juliet take place during this time gives a very different feel to the actual story. It makes it seem a bit more unrealistic, but at the same time is a fun way to watch this classic story. The time period of the movies is a huge difference between the two, not only were the movies themselves filmed thirty years apart, but the actually time period of the movies were centuries apart.
Some little scenes were cut out of both of the movies as well. For example, in the 1968 version of the movie, Romeo does not go to the apothecary, they cut that scene out entirely, but it was left in the final cut of the 1997 version of the movie. One scene that they cut out of both of the movies was the killing of Paris, the man who Juliet’s father picked to marry her. Both versions cut out his death as well as the death of Romeo’s mother, possibly to place more emphasis on the death of the main characters and star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet. Another scene in the move that differed in each version was the point when Benvolio tells Romeo that Juliet has died all the way to the end of the movie. First, seeing how close Romeo was to finding out about the plan Juliet had made with Friar Laurence. In the 1968 version, Romeo rides by the messenger on his horse as he rides to see his love. And in the 1997 version Romeo steps on the letter as he runs to his car. Although these are two very different scenarios, they are appropriate for the time period and still get the same point across to the audience. Furthermore, the suicide scene in the 1997 version was slightly different from the 1968 version. Aside from the use of guns rather than swords, in the 1997 version of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet actually wakes up seconds before Romeo kills himself with the poison. This did not occur in the 1968 version at all; he simply died before she woke up. These differences in the movie weren’t very big, and they all fit with the time period in which the movie took place.
One thing that both movies have in common with not only each other but with the play is the script/dialogue. Both movies used the exact script written by William Shakespeare aside from little modifications here and there. Using this script in the 1968 version was perfect because it fit the time period perfectly, but in the 1997 version, it was a little odd in the beginning, but as it moves forward, its easier to understand what is going on in the scene because it takes place in the present. So the use of the original writing of Shakespeare worked in the favor of both movies, fitting perfectly into one and giving a crafty and different feel to the other.
Over all, both versions of Romeo and Juliet were phenomenal and portrayed the story to the audience well. They both did an excellent job of performing the work of such a writer as William Shakespeare. Not too much was changed from the original play, and the change in time period among the two movies makes it feel like it is entirely different. This aspect brought in many different viewers. If Shakespeare were still living, he’d most likely be very pleased with both versions and outcomes of one of his most famous pieces of work.