Jan 23 2011

Study Skills WS2010_5

Published by Peter Schneck

From Star-crossed lovers to Hollywood stars: Drama into Film

(Note: the task was delayed for technical and legal reasons – I apologize for this!!)

The transfer from script – the dramatic text – to performance – the ‘acting-out’ of the dramatic text – already suggest or even demands an act of interpretation. Directors have to be selective and actors have to make choices, the setting may differ, the lighting, the sound etc.

This is also true – if not even more so – for the transfer of drama into film. Cinematic productions and performances add another dimension to the dramatic text beyond its potential for performance on stage.

Please compare the two versions of the ‘balcony scene’ (Act 2, Scene 2) from Romeo and Juliet below and take notes of the differences and similarities. Then also mark the difference between stage elements or strategies and filmic strategies (the latter being specifically things that only film can do). And, finally, add some short speculations on how these strategies change meaning of the passage, emphasizing some of the major conflict points which we discussed and de-emphasizing others.

You may want to enter your thoughts right on the blog by using the comment box below. Please also bring your notes to class (the extended version) because we will need them for our discussion.

But soft now – and enjoy!

You have to get the two versions through these links since for legal reasons the clips cannot be streamed. A new window should open and you should see the clips right away. If this does not work, download the file and play it on your computer.

Clip 1

Clip 2

9 responses so far

9 Responses to “Study Skills WS2010_5”

  1. npentrelon 24 Jan 2011 at 16:09

    Both versions obviously interpret “Romeo and Juliet” quite differently. Not only can they be discerned by the parts of the script that are used (or rather the parts they left out), but also by the means through which the action is presented.
    The 1968 version by Franco Zeffirelli starts out by showing us the garden through which we see Romeo approaching the Capulet’s house and Juliet’s room in specific. Then, we get to see some close ups on Romeo’s and Juliet’s faces. While Romeo depicts Juliet and describes her beauty in particular, we see Juliet out of Romeo’s perspective, hence, a low-angle-shot. This establishes a certain distance between them in the beginning. When they actually speak to each other, the angles keep switching between a low angle on Juliet and a high angle on Romeo, since Juliet is on a balcony. It is arguable that this enactment of “Romeo and Juliet”, focuses rather on gestures and facial expressions and lets us see both at the same time, than focusing on their faces solely. Since there is of course more distance between them in this version, they are not often seen together in the same picture but rather apart from each other. Maybe this is too enhance the audience’s focus on the expressions and gestures of the speaker, so that the audience is not distracted by the other actor while instead they should be focusing on the other person.
    The 1996 version, on the other hand, starts out by Romeo seeing light in a room, but not Juliet’s room, but the nurse’s. There also is a totally different stage, there is not even the balcony for the balcony scene. Instead there is a swimming pool and a “pool incident”. There are security cameras (which romeo even addresses at one point) and there even is a security guy that comes to the pool at one part. We see them together in the picture far more that in the older version, since there is not that much distance between them. Also this, version uses far more close ups on their faces than the other one.
    Both versions employ music as a means to impress a certain mood on the audience, but the newer version does this differently. It actually uses music to create more tension. For example in the “Oh, wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied”-part. The music has a crescendo and a pause after that. Hence, tension is created which stresses the part. In the other version this is stressed by the actors expressions, which evokes a slightly less effective tension.
    Concerning the script, both versions leave out some parts. Yet, I would argue that the 1996 version leaves out more than the other one. The 1996 version, leaves out some images about the envious moon and the brightness of her cheeks . Seeing that there is no balcony and that there is less distance between them in the second version, it makes sense, that some part of the dialog is missing, because it simply does not make sense when they are standing right next to each other. Both versions leave out Romeo’s text after he states that “She speaks”. Also they leave out the after Juliet says “If they do see thee they will murder thee” and their conversation about how he found her. But while the newer version includes Juliet’s “Farewell compliment”, the older does not. But far more important in the older version he actually swears that he loves her, which Juliet does not allow in the other version or in the script.

  2. Julia Kochon 24 Jan 2011 at 20:48

    I also think there are many differences in these two movies.
    First I want to focus on the older movie by Franco Zeffirelli (1968).
    This version takes place in the back yard of the Capulet’s house and also on the balcony close to Juliet’s room. This movie follows the directions of the script. The only stage elements in this version are the balcony, the tree where Romeo stands on while he talks to Juliet and the moon that enlightens the place. This causes romance during this scene because it is just the two leading actors the director focuses on. This romance is being underlined by the slow music which is being played in the background. This music turns low as soon as the actors start to speak und turns loud when they kiss or hug each other. Drama is also being created by the music.
    The actors wear costumes which makes the movie seem very authentic. They wear clothes as if they had lived during the time of William Shakespeare.
    The camera only concentrates on the two actors. Either there is only one of them to see or both. But there are no rush movements in this version. The director focuses on the text and the two leading actors who declare their love for each other.
    A few party of the skript are missing though. They left out some parts which might have seemed uninteresting for the scene.
    The language does not seem to be displaced in this movie. Because of the stage elements and all the little details one might truely believe that the way they speak in verses was normal for that time. It only underlines the idea of William Shakespeare. This is what I like about the movie. When Romeo leaves Juliet in the end there is a lot of drama being caused by showing the growth of the distance between their two hands for a long time.
    I like this movie a lot and think it gave a great view on the time of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”.

    Now I want to talk about the new version. I don’t like this version very much because it is too modern.
    The similarities to the old movie are for example the use of the skript of William Shakespeare (here are also some parts of the dialogues left out) and some actions they do during the scene, like for example kissing each other or hug one another.
    In this scene though it is not only Romeo and Juliet the director focused on but also many little stage elements. The balcony scene is not a balcony scene anymore, because Romeo and Juliet stay right next to a pool and swim in the light of many flood lights. There are many video cameras and also a security guy who observes the two. In this version there is also drama being created by that, but the romance loses somehow its magic. They also repeat the skript of William Shakespeare, but in this case it seems to be displaced in this movie. Everything is modern and just like we know it nowadays, but the fact that they use the old language just makes the movie unauthetic. They also do not wear costumes (besides of the fancy dress ball at the Capulet’s house). Maybe the director wanted to show the children of today that “Romeo and Juliet” is an important story to know, but by showing it with these many elements and strategies he somehow missed the point.

  3. sbeckerson 24 Jan 2011 at 21:11

    Both versions have a very different approach towards the play. Since the film from 1996 converts the play in modern times, in the older version the clothes, music and the house indicate the movie is set in 16th century.
    The 1968 version begins with Romeo walking across the garden, approaching the balcony and Juliet. We se Juliet and the balcony out of his perspective (low-angel shot) and Romeo’s face is shown in close-ups. As he describes her beauty we see Juliet doing what he describes (”See how she leans her cheek upon her hand.”) so one could get the expression he is talking to the viewer. The moment Juliet starts speaking the perspective changes and we see Romeo through a low-angle shot as she sees him. Juliet is still shown with a low-angle perspective, some shots are close-ups and some distant. While Juliet is speaking the camera is still on Romeo (close-up) a lot to show his reactions and facial expressions.
    After Romeo has climbed the tree and the balustrade and they kiss (which is not mentioned in the script) we see them both together at the same time, which does not happen often in this scene as mentioned in the first comment.
    This version leaves out fewer parts than the newer one but there is one part missing which I account quite important: “Well do not swear. Although I joy in thee, I have no joy of this contract tonight: It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden [...]” I think this part would show the reasonable side of Juliet.
    From the very beginning we hear some soft classical flute music which stops as Romeo shouts out to Juliet (”I take thee at thy word!”). The music starts again with the words “[…] thy love’s faithful vow for mine”, but this time it sounds like a happy baroque dance piece (to show Romeos’s happiness about his encounter with Juliet) which develops into a quite dramatic piece as they finally part (as to emphazise the importance of the scene – their promise to get married the next day). The scene ends with a close up on their parting hands as he climbs down the wall.
    To sum it up: In my opinion this version is very true to the original, even though it invents Romeo and Juliet’s meeting and kiss on the balcony.
    The version from 1996, which is also set in this time, trys to add some new aspects, such as humour and action. Right at the beginning Romeo begins his monologue about Juliet’s beauty, spoken at the direction of the window. He sees a shadow behind the curtains and assumes it is Juliet – but it is the nurse. This and the expression of digust on Romeo’s face add some funny aspects to the scene. Afterwards Juliet enters the scene through an elevator and begins her monologue. Romeo does not say much. Otherwise it would not make any sense since Juliet is not supposed to hear what he says and she would hear him as he stands right behind her. At the end of her monologue (“Take all myself.”)Romeo responds and startles her so much they both fall into the pool where Romeo has to hide from the security guard. This brings some action to the scene plus the chance to show some under-water scenes. The camera follows Romeo and Juliet as they move and kiss in the pool. After the have left the pool there actually is a balcony scene right in the end when they say good-bye, which is one of the rare moments high- and low-angles are used. In this version the viewer rather gets the feeling they have to hurry to be not caught together because of the use of the security guard and the nurses’s cries for Juliet which become louder and louder throughout the scene.
    In this version the music starts with their first kiss and crescendoes at the same moment as in the older version – as Juliet declares her love for Romeo (“Thy faithful vow for mine.” – “I gave thee mine before thou didst request it.”).
    To sum it up: The version adds some humurous and some action loaded moments and leaves out way more parts than the version from 1968. Even though it leaves out many parts of the script the meaning and importance of the scene was well delivered and the transfer in modern times was handled well. One could argue that the language of Shakespeare is out of place in a modern setting. I, however, think it is a ood way to show that this universal story can take part anywhere and anytime and still be plausible without many changes.
    The versions are alike in their use of music and they also both change the scene in such way that Romeo and Juliet meet and kiss – obviously to please the audience which would expect nothing else as they have seen many similar scenes in other films of that genre.

  4. Teresa Lorenzenon 24 Jan 2011 at 22:03

    In the following, I would like to sum up what I noticed when I compared the two balcony scenes of the “Romeo and Juliet”-movies.
    The two movies have some similarities. In both, the focus lies on Romeo and Juliet and in both, they meet each other in the night. It is clear that they do this in secret: in the older movie, this is shown by the people who follow Romeo and call his name until they lose his track, whereas in the second movie it is even more obvious, because Romeo is climbing over a fence to get to Juliet.

    One difference between the two scenes is that the newer one is more modern, the scenery is more complex and it uses means such as the dimmed and blue lights of the swimming-pool to underline the atmosphere. There is also something dangerous in the scene, because Romeo and Juliet jump into the swimming-pool and move a lot. They could be seen by the maid or the security guard and the sound of the moving water could easily reveal them. In addition, the dramatic music, which is there nearly all of the time, intensifies this effect.
    Juliet’s maid calls for her several times, which creates suspense.
    In the older movie, the scenery is more simple than in the newer one: the scene plays in a forest and Juliet is on the balcon of a mansion, whilst Romeo is down. This creates a distance between the two of them and even though they touch from time to time, it is always there, because Romeo can not climb over the wall and the wall is always between the two lovers. Still, they appear to be in togetherness with nobody else around, until the maid calls for Juliet in the last part of the scene. The focus seems to lie on the text and Romeo and Juliet and the scenery is not as important as in the newer version.
    Furthermore, the music in the older movie is more soft and gentle, it creates a romantic and silent mood.

    Summed up, I would say that the older movie version wants to show the emotions between Romeo and Juliet and the problem of the distance between them that cannot be overcome. It wants to evoke compassion in the audience, whereas the newer version is more active and lies the focus on passion and suspense.

  5. sbeckerson 24 Jan 2011 at 23:05

    Both versions have a very different approach towards the play. Since the film from 1996 converts the play in modern times, in the older version the clothes, music and the house indicate the movie is set in 16th century.
    The 1968 version begins with Romeo walking across the garden, approaching the balcony and Juliet. We se Juliet and the balcony out of his perspective (low-angel shot) and Romeo’s face is shown in close-ups. As he describes her beauty we see Juliet doing what he describes (”See how she leans her cheek upon her hand.”) so one could get the expression he is talking to the viewer. The moment Juliet starts speaking the perspective changes and we see Romeo through a low-angle shot as she sees him. Juliet is still shown with a low-angle perspective, some shots are close-ups and some distant. While Juliet is speaking the camera is still on Romeo (close-up) a lot to show his reactions and facial expressions.
    After Romeo has climbed the tree and the balustrade and they kiss (which is not mentioned in the script) we see them both together at the same time, which does not happen often in this scene as mentioned in the first comment.
    This version leaves out fewer parts than the newer one but there is one part missing which I account quite important: “Well do not swear. Although I joy in thee, I have no joy of this contract tonight: It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden [...]” I think this part would show the reasonable side of Juliet.
    From the very beginning we hear some soft classical flute music which stops as Romeo shouts out to Juliet (”I take thee at thy word!”). The music starts again with the words “[…] thy love’s faithful vow for mine”, but this time it sounds like a happy baroque dance piece (to show Romeos’s happiness about his encounter with Juliet) which develops into a quite dramatic piece as they finally part (as to emphazise the importance of the scene – their promise to get married the next day). The scene ends with a close up on their parting hands as he climbs down the wall.
    To sum it up: In my opinion this version is very true to the original, even though it invents Romeo and Juliet’s meeting and kiss on the balcony.
    The version from 1996, which is also set in this time, trys to add some new aspects, such as humour and action. Right at the beginning Romeo begins his monologue about Juliet’s beauty, spoken at the direction of the window. He sees a shadow behind the curtains and assumes it is Juliet – but it is the nurse. This and the expression of digust on Romeo’s face add some funny aspects to the scene. Afterwards Juliet enters the scene through an elevator and begins her monologue. Romeo does not say much. Otherwise it would not make any sense since Juliet is not supposed to hear what he says and she would hear him as he stands right behind her. At the end of her monologue (“Take all myself.”)Romeo responds and startles her so much they both fall into the pool where Romeo has to hide from the security guard. This brings some action to the scene plus the chance to show some under-water scenes. The camera follows Romeo and Juliet as they move and kiss in the pool. After the have left the pool there actually is a balcony scene right in the end when they say good-bye, which is one of the rare moments high- and low-angles are used. In this version the viewer rather gets the feeling they have to hurry to be not caught together because of the use of the security guard and the nurses’s cries for Juliet which become louder and louder throughout the scene.
    In this version the music starts with their first kiss and crescendoes at the same moment as in the older version – as Juliet declares her love for Romeo (“Thy faithful vow for mine.” – “I gave thee mine before thou didst request it.”).
    To sum it up: The version adds some humorous and some action loaded moments and leaves out way more parts than the version from 1968. Even though it leaves out many parts of the script the meaning and importance of the scene has been well delivered and the transfer in modern times has been handled well. One could argue that the language of Shakespeare is out of place in a modern setting. I, however, think it is a ood way to show that this universal story can take part anywhere and anytime and still be plausible without many changes.
    The versions are alike in their use of music and they also both change the scene in such way that Romeo and Juliet meet and kiss – obviously to please the audience which would expect nothing else as they have seen many similar scenes in other films of that genre.

  6. Christina Beifuson 25 Jan 2011 at 01:20

    I will start with the new version.
    The setting of this version is very different. There is no balcony but a pool with many dimmed lights, which create a romantic atmosphere. In addition, there are modern, technical goods like observation cameras or monitor screens.

    Juliet is entering the court. She doesn’t notice Romeo, who is next to her. From the beginning there is almost no physical distance between them. Romeo is able to touch Juliet if he wants to. This is the most significant difference between both versions.
    Romeo lets Juliet know that he is around her and both are ending up in the pool. Since that moment Romeo and Juliet are touching each other. In modern times physical closeness is normal. You kiss somebody or shake hands with somebody. In former times there was no closeness. Lovers had to be carefull because it was forbidden to be that close. They had to get married before they were allowed to kiss official.
    I think this is a very important point for the analysis!

    Furthermore, the music differs.
    The music in the new version begins slow and soft but gets strong and loud. It creates a tension between the lovers. I think it underlines the desperation of Romeo and Juliet. Generally, the music emphasize deeper feelings and emotions.
    The music in the old version stays almost the same: gentle and soft. When Romeo speaks to Juliet the music stops for a while. It causes that you are listening carefully to what is said in these passage. Probably, it is the central point in these passage.

  7. deromanoon 25 Jan 2011 at 03:51

    I would like to share some observations about similarities and differences I noticed in the adaptations by Franco Zeffirelli and Baz Luhrmann.
    Obviously both adaptations share the same script (more or less, because in Luhrmann’s version there are some missing parts of the main script, written by Shakespeare). The main characters are Romeo and Juliet for both versions. At the beginning of Romeo’s and Juliet’s monologue, the camera remains fixed in a tight close-up, and it stays intimately close to their faces as they discover for the second time how in love with each other they are. The average of seconds per shot is longer in both adaptations which allow the spectators to enter in their world of love for each other and the inner conflict due to their family names. Furthermore the lovers should hide their emotions and try not to get caught because of their families’ fights. The famous “balcony scene” is the moment when the love between the young couple becomes spoken, passionate and strong. Similarity is also that both versions take place in the Capulet territory. There are differences about the appearance of Capulet’s house.

    While Zeffirelli’s scene takes place in an orchard, Baz Luhrmann’s version offers a whole swimming pool, a security guard and security cameras which is a sign for a modern adaptation. The protagonists wear authentic costumes in the ‘96 version. In the newer version Juliet wears white dress, corresponding to an innocence, purity and chastity (which is perhaps in contradiction to her actions, pulling Romeo into the pool. Nevertheless I think this is rather due to a stronger dominance of Juliet in this version than to sinful thoughts). In addition to her dominant but innocent appearance, she pulls away from his kiss, entreats him to vow his intent to marry her, begs him to leave, and insists on making a concrete plan for the next day. She is shot mostly from below, to emphasize the pedestal-look of her goddess-like figure. Romeo is dressed in a knight’s chain mail. He speaks much less than Juliet and although the action grows more acute in this newer adaptation, he seems to stay as romantic and passionate as in the 1996 version :)

    Another important difference in the adaptations is the distance between the two main characters. In Zeffirelli’s version they are separated all the time by a wall, and at the same time they are united through speech. In Luhrmann’s version there is nothing but their consciousness between them. Nevertheless the fear not to get caught makes the lovers’ passion grow more acute, which is underlined by extradiegetic sounds in this adaptation. The music in the 1996 adaptation is more inconspicuous, the focus lies on the performance.

  8. jherberhon 25 Jan 2011 at 16:50

    I also want to comment on the “balcony scenes” of the two different versions of “Romeo and Juliet”. Of course in both scenes Romeo and Juliet are the main characters. The speeches they make go with the original text from Shakespeare. In the version of 1996 there are more parts missing (of the original text) than in Zeffirellis version. As the others said before, the 1996 version is more modern. The whole scenario appears different, except the place where it takes place is the same. This is the garden and the house of the Capulets, near to the balcony of Juliets room. Both versions first show Romeo how he´s trying to climb up to the balcony, but first wants to hide while Juliet is speaking to herself. The older version is created very simple. There is just the balcony, some trees and the two lovers who want to show their affection which they have to each other. The property of the Capulets in the 1996s version is more detailed and modern. There is a swimming pool, a security guide (who of course doesn´t exist in the original text). You´ll find some kind of “special effects” like Juliet is coming out of an elevator with an automatic door, that doesn´t really fit to the original play. Further the security guides can see everything what happens in the garden on monitors. There´s also more activity of the two characters, for example that they fall into the swimming pool and not only once. There is more action happening, while the version of 1968 focuses more the faces of each, Romeo and Juliet. They don´t have as much physical contact, as Romeo and Juliet have it in the newer version. But that doesn´t make the situation less romantic. Furthermore Romeo and Juliet were not interrupted during their dialogue in the older version, just in the end, when the nurse summons Juliet. The nurse also appears in the version of 1996.
    I would say that the older version is more serious about the love between Romeo and Juliet. The 1996s version is more amusing and entertaining. In the older version it is more a back and forth, Romeo and Juliet don´t know really how to behave, because their love is still forbidden because of their family circumstances.

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