‘I take thee at thy word. Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptized. Henceforth I never will be Romeo’. This is a Quote said by Romeo to Juliet as she was talking about him, he said this as a way of meaning that he would give up his name for Juliet if she truly wanted him to. The Shakespearean play ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is about the two that are destined to be star-crossed lovers, but have also been fated to die, as a way to end a feud that has gone on between their family’s and has out lasted generations. The play ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was created in 1597 and received good feedback as it was a break for reality during the Elizabethan era. The adaptation that is being compared to the play was created in 1996 with alterations. Throughout my speech I will compare and contrast Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation to Shakespeare’s original play ‘Romeo and Juliet’. The purpose is to show Shakespeare’s timeless work and its significance and relevance to both Elizabethan and contemporary audiences.
Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation was altered compared to the original play by Shakespeare, one of the main differences are the depictions of characters and how Luhrmann changed the way the characters were placed and how we viewed each character. One of the main changes are the parents of Romeo and Juliet, they were down played from the original to Luhrmann’s adaptation. In the movie we are positioned to see the parents as uncaring of Romeo and Juliet, as they didn’t fit the typical parents in the play. Juliet’s parents were the main characters that were down played. Luhrmann positioned us to see them as less caring of Juliet, in Juliet’s fake death scene of the play the nurse and parents find her body and they were shown to be sad and crying that they lost their daughter, but in Luhrmann’s adaptation Juliet’s parents were never mentioned or even featured in her death scene, creating an image that they didn’t care for their daughter the way a parent should. The only person that was ever featured in Juliet’s fake death scene was the Friar but in the play the friar was the last out of the nurse and Juliet’s parents to find out about her dying. Other depictions of the characters throughout the adaptation was the Prince of Verona who is represented as the Captain of the police in the movie. The original play depicts that he was the Prince of Verona but in the adaptation the prince is now the head Capitan of the police force, Luhrmann may have done this because in the play the Prince held the authority over the city and family’s that where causing trouble and in Luhrmann’s adaptation he may have wanted someone who had authority and having a police Captain other than a Prince would be a good fit.
The setting in the play was different from the adaptation. The huge difference was the movie was set in California Venice beach and not in Verona, Italy. Baz Luhrmann may have changed this to suit what was happening around the time the movie was made due to a lot gang violence. That’s why the adaptation also features guns to show what was really happening and how it was affecting family’s lives and others, this is something that is definitely not in the original play. The famous balcony scene was also changed by Luhrmann, compared it to the original scene from the play to the adaptation Juliet was not even on the balcony when she was talking about Romeo but in Luhrmann’s adaptation Juliet was on the ground with Romeo showing that the where equal, but the play depicts Romeo to be below Juliet showing that she is above him and out of his reach by putting her on the balcony. Baz Luhrmann also tried to stay true to Shakespeare’s original play by making Mercutio’s death scene on an old theatre ruins, showing that in the original play was at a theatre in the 15th century. During the play Mercutio was killed by a sword that Tybalt was wielding, in the adaptation, Tybalt killed Mercutio with piece of glass.
Some of the most important parts for the play and movie have to do with the opening and closing scenes. The opening and closing scene are moderately similar. The opening scene in the play is a prologue read by chorus and the adaptation the prologue was read out by a news reporter on TV, the adaptation had the same wording and structurer but the main difference is with the closing scene, in the play during the closing scene after the real death of Romeo and Juliet the parents forgive each other and promise that they will made gold statues of each other child as a way to remember their sacrifice, ‘As rich shall Romeo’s by his lady’s lie, Poor sacrifices of our enmity.’ This was said Capulet to Montague at the end of the play but in the Luhrmann’s adaptation the families never made up or if they did Luhrmann never showed it, the reason he might have done this was to show the lack of relationship between the parents and children.
The play and the adaptation are every different but at the same time they are quite similar, both of the movie and play show how Shakespeare’s work was still timeless to this day and the uniqueness his work has on the Elizabethan and contemporary audience. Baz Luhrmann done a great job of his adaptation and the way Luhrmann changed the way we see the characters and how he made a feel a certain way towards them. ‘Can I go forward when my heart is here? Turn back, dull earth, and find thy centre out.’