SHAKESPEARE TRANSFORMED “The plays of Shakespeare and their film adaptations present audiences with important ideas about love and conflict.” How have TWO of these ideas been presented to an...

SHAKESPEARE TRANSFORMED

“The plays of Shakespeare and their film adaptations present audiences with important ideas about love and conflict.”

How have TWO of these ideas been presented to an audience in Shakespeare’s original play AND one film adaptation?

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sciftw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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I am going to use Shakespeare's play "Romeo and Juliet." For the film, I will use Baz Luhrmann's "Romeo and Juliet" 1996 film adaptation.  The film uses Shakespeare's original text, but places the film in a modern time frame.  This makes the film appear slightly more relatable to modern audiences, but does have some quirky language things.  For example, one of the characters says "draw your sword" and out comes a 9 mm Smith and Wesson.  Despite those oddities, the film stays true to the text in its interpretation of Romeo and Juliet's love and the conflicts that ensue.  

Shakespeare introduces Romeo as a Petrarchan lover. He is saddened and depressed by the fact that Rosaline does not return his affections. He is so depressed that he is physically ill. This shows the standard "broken heart" attitude that audiences, even today, are familiar with.  

The next concept of love that Shakespeare illustrates to his audiences is love at first sight. Romeo has been convinced to attend the Capulet banquet in order to look at many beautiful women. He sees Juliet and is instantly in love. She too is instantly in love with Romeo: together they speak a 14 line sonnet and start kissing. Then within the next 36 hours or so they are married. That is love at first sight. The film heightens this scene with some special lighting and lens flares, but those are just extras to help sell the lines being spoken.  

The marriage is another concept of love that Shakespeare illustrates. That concept is the importance of marriage in a relationship. Romeo and Juliet fall in love, get married, and have sex. In that order. That is not frequently replicated in modern Hollywood movies. The marriage and sex usually come in the reverse order in many modern day films. Or marriage isn't even a part of the film. Baz Luhrmann's film stays true to the text with their relationship. 

As for conflict. Sure there is lots of conflict in the play and film. The film does a great job of showing the tensions between the Capulets and Montagues by having a news broadcast running in the background of the opening prologue. It shows all kinds of street violence happening on the streets of Verona. The play has no way of showing this. It is simply spoken and the audience must imagine it. The movie also does a great opening battle scene between Capulets and Montagues at the gas station. Reading the play, Shakespeare writes "they fight." On stage, there is a fight scene, and it's cool, but the film can use quick cut editing and special effects. It makes the conflict and fight scene so much more intense and tangible.  

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