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Romeo and Juliet is a classical play written in the Elizabethan period, between the years 1550’s and 1600’s. It is an archetypal love story, written by Shakespeare (1564 – 1616) in the year 1595. Theatres were not as enhanced as today then. Hence the plot and the scheme of the story played a strong importance to the audience because the other aspects (such as the lighting, the props, the background etc. ) of theatre were considerably dull in comparison to today. The play was set in the late 12th Century in a city-state Verona in Italy.
It was based on the story of two star-crossed lovers who fall in love at first sight and take vows to spend their life together but against all this was the great ancient feud between their two families ‘The Capulet’s’ and ‘The Montague’s’. The play is highly exhilarating and shows a great variety of emotions and themes. These innovative aspects of the play, moreover, reinforce and embellish its principal themes love, hate, and enmity. With great skills Shakespeare developed a tragic but great love story of two lovers.
Life in the 12th century held different expectations from today’s life. Marriage in Italy in the period of Romeo and Juliet was different in a numbers of ways from marriage now. In those days a girl had little or no say in the choice of husband, the husband was chosen as a suitably rich and powerful ally for the family and girls often were married at the age of fourteen or fifteen. Shakespeare considered these differences which even applied to his time and hence giving the audience a new perception to their living style.
There are infinity of ways to perform Romeo and Juliet, not one way can be considered ‘right’. Each production is a fresh outlook by the director’s point of view, the audience and the actor; but even though each production will have its own unique quality. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet were performed on stage in ‘The Globe Theatre’ whereas Baz Luhrman’s Romeo and Juliet were made in a film format. Both the formats hold their unique qualities and contrasts hence making each of them an extravagant performance.
Shakespeare’s format is on stage and was performed under circumstances where much was not feasible, for example as lighting was not available the play had to be performed in the daytime, the background sceneries could not be changed and so all was done in one, special effects were not the least of an option as technology did not allow it. Whereas Baz Luhrman had access to all such areas, hence giving him the resources to provide a much genuine and intricate performance. Baz Luhrman’s version consisted of modern day themes such as violence, love, sex, dangerous and panicky situations.
He has put in touches of modern culture like guns instead of swords and cars instead of horses. Also some excellent special effects and soundtracks had been added making the movie exciting and an overall experience. A director’s role in the making of a movie is very important. It is the director who visualises the scene in order to give out an original performance, it is the director which decides how each scene will be performed, why it will be performed and when will it be performed.
He also has to decide on what kind of atmosphere he wishes to create in order to catch the attention of the audience, and to do this he has to decide on the setting of each scene. In my role as director I have to consider points such as what the play is about, the important ideas and themes and the overall significance to each scene. My job as director includes visualising the scene, imagining the scene and choosing the ideal lighting, setting, actors etc. The director also should have a considerable grasp on the text and hold an intense view on the character development in the scene.
The director must use language and gestures to convey the feelings, themes and emotions of each character with each turn in the plot. The language used by Shakespeare in the balcony scene (Act 2, Scene 2) is highly imaginative, romantic, poetic and seductive. For instance the following quote ‘By love, that first did prompt did me to inquire; He lent me counsel, and I lent him eyes. I am no pilot; yet, wert thou as far As that vast shore wash’d with the farthest sea, I would adventure for such merchandise. The language in the above quote is highly imaginative yet romantic and highly poetic yet seductive.
The language is very powerful and contains a phenomenal control on the mind. Its effect is ever so powerful that its inner meaning haunts the mind for prolonged time. It conveys the thoughts and emotions of the characters to the utmost accuracy and details. I as the director also have to decide the language and text to be used. To decide this I have keep my target audience in consideration. I have decided to aim my movie to a wide range of audience. I wish to keep in the same respect and sanctity as Shakespeare’s version except for giving it more liveliness and enthusiasm.
Therefore the movie will be appropriate for anyone from mature teenagers to adults. As director I have decided to act the play on a movie set. This will enable me to a wider range of options and features such as special effects, soundtracks, lighting etc. This will make it possible for me to bring out the true emotions of the individual characters and give it a more realistic atmosphere. For example the actors will not have the need to shout out the dialogues, allowing them to whisper in the romantic scenes.