Comparison of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet with Baz Luhrmann’s Adaptation

Category: Romeo and Juliet
Last Updated: 15 Apr 2020
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In the play Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare a lot of literal techniques are used to portray the theme of rivalry in act one scene one. This part of the play is adapted very well by Baz Luhrmann in his 1996 film adaptation. Shakespeare shows a clear sign of rivalry right from the start to make us feel that it is a very important theme which affects the story a lot.We can see from near the start of the script the Capulet’s hate for the Montague’s from “A dog of the house of Montague’s moves me” this line from Sampson shows his hatred for the Montague family, because this line shows that even seeing a dog from the Montagues will make him angry.

Shakespeare uses this to show the amount of hate the families have for each other, because if Sampson gets angry by some dogs which live with the Montague’s, then it shows how much more angry he would be if he saw a real Montague. Baz Luhrmann adapts this scene well using different film techniques to adapt this.Act 1 scene 1 starts off with this quote; this shows that Luhrmann has also shown rivalry from the start, because the first lines are showing his anger for the Montagues. Luhrmann also makes Sampson shout it out from a car, showing that the rivalry is so extreme that the house members are shouting to the public about their anger for the opposing house. Luhrmann uses a low camera angle to show Sampson, this is used to make the audience think that he is superior over us and he is very strong, brave and intimidating.Luhrmann creates a larger effect on the audience compared to Shakespeare, by making the theme of rivalry more noticeable and look more important to the storyline. This is done by the lines being shouted out loudly and right at the start.

Shakespeare shows the rivalry of the two houses very well with Gregory and Sampson, and Abraham and Balthassar to show hatred between the two houses. As soon as Abraham and Balthassar enter, Gregory says “Draw thy tool, here comes of the house of Montagues. This shows how deadly their rivalry was, because they were fighting with swords which could easily kill someone is one slice, also we can see they are bitter rivals and only want to kill them or defend themselves, because without the opposing house saying even a word they are pulling out their sword. Baz Luhrmann shows the rivalry extremely well through visual techniques of these four characters. Sampson and Gregory are shown as white Americans with casual Hawaiian clothes, while Abraham and Balthassar are shown as Spanish or Latin-American, and are wearing more formal looking clothes which shows a large contrast.Also even their things show they are rivals, such as their car number plates have either “MON” or “CAP” and their guns have their house’s emblem on them. Baz Luhrmann also uses fast paced editing to change shots from one character to another showing that the arguments were intense.

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Overall Luhrmann creates a larger effect on the audience to show rivalry, because you cannot see much contrast between the Montagues and Capulets in the script, while in the film, the director has made noticeable visual contrasts, so the rivalry is clear.Two important characters which show the rivalry between the two houses in Romeo and Juliet are Benvolio and Tybalt. In Shakespeare’s original they are shown as very different and opposite, we can see this from “I do but keep the peace” and “... Peace? I hate the word” this shows that they have complete opposite views showing that they are rivals, because they don’t think the same and can never agree on something. Benvolio is trying to bring peace, while Tybalt hates it and wants violence and bloodshed.

These two views are completely different and shows good versus evil where neither good nor evil can agree upon something.Baz Luhrmann shows the contrast between the two characters well. When Tybalt enters the scene the music suddenly stops and the characters freeze, then an extreme close up is shown of Tybalt’s mouth, this is used to show that he is a very intimidating character, because the director builds up the tension and then finally reveals Tybalt. We then see extreme close up shots of the eyes of Benvolio and Tybalt, this makes it seem like a cowboy standoff, to show the hate in their eyes which they have for each other, this hate is mostly shown by Tybalt, with Benvolio looking nervous and worried after a while.This is another contrast, because Tybalt is confident and evil, while Benvolio is worried, but trying to create peace between them, showing rivalry by contrast in ideas. The setting also contributes to the rivalry, because it is set in a petrol station which could easily explode, showing that Tybalt hates the Montagues so much that he would explode a petrol station just to kill a Montague. Benvolio and Tybalt both create a large feelingBoth Shakespeare and Luhrmann have done a fantastic job to convey the theme of rivalry to us the audience in act one scene one of Romeo and Juliet, with Shakespeare using different literal techniques and Luhrmann adapting these techniques into film techniques to emphasise this theme.

They have made the characters show rivalry very clearly and noticeably so that we notice this theme and know of its importance.

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Comparison of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet with Baz Luhrmann’s Adaptation. (2018, Dec 02). Retrieved from

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