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I will compare the suicide scenes from the two different film versions of Shakespeare’s play ‘Romeo and Juliet’. It is a media assignment so I have to describe how the camera shots manipulate you into understanding the feelings of the characters. Franco Zeffirelli’s version released in 1968, was set in Verona Italy in the fifteenth century. Baz Luherman’s version released in 1997 was set in Verona beach USA in the twentieth century. Both directors have used Shakespearean language but have edited and changed some of the original text.The starts of the scenes in the two films are very different to each other. In the Zeffirelli’s, it’s very gloomy and quiet, whereas in the Luherman’s version it’s very loud and exhilarating. This is probably because a contemporary audience is used to this kind of thing.In Zeffirelli’s version, the scene is opened as Romeo makes his way to the vault in darkness, with a lit torch. He breaks into the vault with a stone. Sombre, classical music fills the air as he enters the vault; back lighting is used to create shadows, and under lighting comes from below to create suspense. The atmosphere is very dismal, dark and depressing. This is because Romeo is surrounded by cobwebs and rotting bodies of Juliet’s ancestors, setting the mood of uneasiness. This creates grimness and horror.On the other hand in the Luherman’s version, the start of the scene involves cars, search lights and helicopters whilst Romeo is on the run from a desperate police chase. The rapid camera shots emphasise the speed and the action. The police threaten to shoot him so he takes a hostage at the church steps. When he releases the hostage and goes inside the church it’s almost as if he doesn’t realise where he is. A long shot shows Romeo walking slowly down the church aisle towards Juliet who is lying on the altar; the long shot also shows that only he and Juliet are in the church. When Romeo entered the church a soloist sings loud choir music which gets louder the nearer he reaches Juliet the camera focuses on Juliet on the altar and it slowly moves nearer showing us what Romeo is seeing and that he is approaching her. This creates a fairytale atmosphere, like sleeping beauty. This is in contrast to Zefferelli’s version.In Zeffirelli’s version, Romeo spots Juliet. A long shot shows her laid down on a tomb stone covered in a shroud of gauze material, dressed in her best clothes, a red, jewelled, expensive gown and cap. He is thrilled to see her and quickly makes his way towards her commenting on her beauty, because he believes her to be dead; he cannot believe how beautiful she still looks. Then he notices Tybalt whom he killed in a duel, Juliet’s cousin. He promises to kill himself with the same hand he used to kill Tybalt. Romeo reproaches Juliet and makes haste to lift up her veil, as he does so, their “Romeo and Juliet” theme tune plays-it is ‘their tune’-first sung by the minstrel at the masked ball when they first met. It instantly reminds the viewer of the love, their love, which they shared together.Whilst the atmosphere in the vault is gloomy, full of shadows and eeriness, cold and full of dead people the church is different. The vault is unwelcoming and Juliet is covered from view. The church is exceptionally welcoming. This is what Shakespeare wanted. It remains true to the text.In the contemporary version, Romeo sees Juliet as soon as he enters the church. She is surrounded by many neon lights and an assortment of candles, statues of angels and lilies creating a fairytale image ‘sleeping beauty’, a beautiful pure image. As Romeo walks towards Juliet the music slowly builds up, and when he finally reaches her the music had achieved a climax, a crescendo. This makes the viewer realise the importance of Romeo meeting Juliet. Juliet was dressed all in white to symbolize her purity has her parents believed her to be a virgin, not knowing of her secret marriage to Romeo.Zeffirelli’s version, when Romeo speaks to Juliet not only do we see close ups of their faces (especially Romeos) we see the side view. A close up shows the emotion on his face. The grief he is feeling is overwhelming its dramatic irony because we know that she is not dead. Although Romeo is extremely upset he is a lot calmer compared to the Romeo in the contemporary version, in this one there’s a lot of emotion, in the contemporary version there’s a lot of passion. He takes out the poison he bought from Mantua, there’s a big close up as he talks to her, and the music builds up to crescendo as he takes the poison. He kisses Juliet’s lips for the last time and held her hand as he drew his last breath.When he dramatically died a single teardrop rolled down his cheek he then collapsed to the floor in a heap by the side of her stone slab. The theme tune starts again in a slower softer tone as Juliet awakens. Sweet music is heard to represent her optimism that she will wake up and all will be well as Romeo will be there to greet her. The camera zooms in and focuses on her hand first as her fingers begin to show life and movement.The priest, who married them in secret friar Lawrence, enters the vault after speaking with Balthazar Romeos servant he realises something has gone wrong. He hurries to Juliet’s side in an attempt to persuade her to leave the vault before she can see Romeos body. Juliet sees Romeo, the friar’s lantern up-lights Juliet’s face creating suspense and emphasising the horror of her expression. They heard the approaching the night watchmen, the friar panicked because he knew what she was going to do so he left the vault in fear. The friar was frightened and he felt he was responsible.The Luherman’s version is very different. Friar Lawrence, Balthazar and Tybalt are excluded from the scene; it is just the two lovers alone. Also the Juliet in the Zeffirelli’s version is only thirteen-fourteen years old. In the contemporary version she is sixteen-seventeen years old. When Romeo lies beside Juliet and comments on her beauty, we see it from a Birdseye view so we look down upon the two. A close up shows how emotional he is “my love, my wife” side view. Low angle view and a big close up of his face shows us his pain.Then there’s a big close-up of her hand as he puts the ring on her finger, reinforcing their love, symbolising their marriage. Romeo sits up without looking at Juliet and begins to drink the poison. A big close up of her eyes tell us that she is awake, Romeo is not dead yet, but he doesn’t notice. She smiles at him lovingly unaware of what he is doing. Just at the last minute she realises what he is doing, at the moment he swallows the last drop she touches his face. He turns to see her the camera flashes from face to face, to show the horror on their faces.” and with a kiss I die” Romeo falls gently on the altar, his face falls to the side and a single tear rolled down his cheek.The contemporary version is more dramatic because Juliet fails to save him by a mere second and she had to watch him die in her arms. It creates a feeling of desperation, the viewer longs to tell her to touch Romeo. Dramatic irony works well here. Although the Zeffirelli version is truer to the text it doesn’t move you as much. The modern one exaggerates a bit. It creates a lot more emotion, manipulating it to dramatise the situation. Dramatic irony works well here too.Zeffirelli version, Juliet refuses to leave when she sees Romeo. This one is very different to the contemporary version because she has not witnessed his death. This is truer to the original text. Completely unaware of what had happened doubling the tragedy. She kneels down beside him and talked to him, slightly confused she then found the poison bottle. she tried to drink any last drops but there was none left “kiss thine lips…..” she tried kissing his lips to see if any poison remained on them but she had no luck. The theme tune plays again to represent their love for each other and the music again rises to a crescendo to heighten the drama. This creates an emotive response from the viewer. She takes Romeos dagger and exclaims angrily “oh happy dagger…” and stabs herself in the heart. She lands on top of Romeo the theme tune plays again as the two lovers are reunited in death.Luherman’s version, all is silent after Romeo dies. Juliet gets up she lets out a loud cry it echo’s throughout the church, a long shot of Juliet shows that she is all alone. In this version she also tries to drink any last drops of the potion but doesn’t succeed, she hopes there will be some left on his lips but there is not. So instead of a dagger, in this modern version she uses a gun. From a high angle view, Juliet’s perspective, we look down on the gun, the camera slowly advances on the gun.Almost as if Juliet has control over the gun, she is higher than the gun, looking down on it she picks it up. All is silent the gun clicks echo. The echoes repeat the tragedy of her fears, giving the empty feeling. Juliet puts the gun to her right temple and looks up as if to heaven.We hear the bang but we do not see any gruesome effects the camera pulls away to a paramount view of the church. And then comes back in and to a Birdseye view of the two lovers dead together at last side by side. Almost as if Juliet’s spirit is looking down. Music from the opera begins “Triston and Isolde” by Wagner-a song called “Milde and Leise”. The story line of an opera is similar to that of Romeo and Juliet. We then are shown flashbacks of all the happy times they had together. The party when they first met, their wedding night, Juliet’s wedding ring engraved “I love thee”. This again creates an emotional response of sadness, it is a tragedy. A final scene of them kissing in the swimming pool, the music softens and slows down.In conclusion Luherman’s version of the suicide was very unique and overall brilliantly directed; it must have had a bigger budget. It was exaggerated and dramatized and very different from the original ideas. The zeffirelli version is truer to the text and more realistic. There is a lot of dramatic irony in both film versions, because the audience knows that Juliet is about to awaken but Romeo doesn’t know. Romeo believes Juliet to be dead and commits suicide. The Juliet in the contemporary version more upset than the one in the Zeffirelli version. The Zeffirelli one shows more emotion and the contemporary shows more passion. The Zeffirelli one does not move you as much as the Luherman’s one. The Luherman’s version is exaggerated to create more emotion. In both films it does not show you any graphics because the love story is the important bit. The tragedy is the love story.

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