Similarities and Differences Between Shakespeare’s Play and “Romeo and Juliet” Film

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Similarities and differences between Shakespeare’s Play and the Romeo and Juliet Film
Shakespeare’s play ‘Romeo and Juliet’ has stood the test of time where literature witnesses daily changes in the form and styles of writing. This is attributed to his prowess of using language as a tool to transforming ordinary events that can otherwise be termed as boring, into new and interesting pieces of art. For instance, the themes of love and hatred had been exhausted long before and several decades after, but nothing makes them as new as the Romeo and Juliet version. The play has since been included into the film industry thus making it easier for the large populations to access it. A few modifications have also added flavor to the already cherished story and thus acting as its preservative down generations. This essay seeks to compare and contrast between Shakespeare’s play and the film that features Leonardo DiCaprio and Danes as Romeo and Juliet respectively.
To begin with, unlike Shakespeare’s play which exploits writing skills, that is the stage directions, paragraph and chapter organization among many others, the film emphasizes on visual and sound effects as the main tools of communication. In the case of visual effects, the film introduces the aspect of time and seasons which are also present in the play. Costumes are also of major importance in simplifying the message and explaining the context. Enmity between the Montague and the Capulet clans is represented right from the costumes they wear. While Romeo’s family dresses up in shorts as well Hawaiian shirts, Juliet’s cousin and his gang dress up in heeled silver boots and also use pearl handle guns. In addition to this, Juliet’s mother wants to marry her off to a man who comes into the wealthy square dressed up as an astronaut. The mere idea of the costume serves as a representation of the man’s social class. In a similar case, Romeo is attracted to Juliet who is dressed up in wings as though she were an angel and in return Juliet is attracted to him for wearing a shinning knight’s armor. Sound effects are also essential in making the film sensual. The slow beats interchanged rhythmically with silence and then the sounds of guns and swords, put viewers in the context of the comic-tragic plot (Scott 137).
Character choice in the film strictly adheres to the provisions of Shakespeare’s play. Just as Romeo and Juliet are young characters, DiCaprio and Danes are also young. Besides, other characters are of the specific description that Shakespeare’s play highlights. For instance, Juliet’s nurse who is British exploits the Hispanic accent which is exhaustively used throughout the play. In a humorous note, the nurse calls Juliet ‘Wholiette’. Nevertheless, unlike in the play where the young ones are dressed up in traditional elegancies, the film casts characters, although as young as teenagers, who expose cleavages and, seemingly, spend a lot of time in mirrors wearing makeup and changing hairstyles. This, however slight a change, provides visual effect to viewers who are supposed to take note of the defiance-in- autonomy of the younger generations. It also explains the determination of Romeo and Juliet to tie knots for the sake of love, if not to bridge the ‘ridges’ dug by their parents disagreements. It should thereby be understood that some of these freedoms to exaggerate omit or add details to an original piece of art are meant to include distinct preferences of audiences previously shut out. It can also be a step to elaborate vague sections without changing the intended meaning (Rozen 21).
The plot is also similar in both the play and the film. The movie sets of not in dialogue but through action. The two warring parties, that is, the Capulets and the Montagues are shooting at each other at the Verona Beach. Shakespeare’s description of the counteraction of the duo by the choppers with soldiers who are also shooting at the gangs is made vivid in the film. It is important to note that the choice of the helicopter and the soldiers are an invention of the film producers and not necessarily Shakespeare’s. Moreover, the murder of Mercutio, who is Romeo’s best friend, by Tybalt widens the gap between the two families. As a result, tension mounts not just in readers but also in the three parties which forms the base of the otherwise impossible relationship between Romeo and Juliet (Hoffert 54).
Language is also similar in both the play and the film. Sentence inversions are strictly adhered to since they place the story in its context and time and, at the same time, promote the poetic sense of the author. Danes and DiCaprio mastery of language and their presentation of the lines in calm tones are stunningly exact to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The film explores the effective use of time by allocating dialogues adequate time before rushing on to the acts of romance. Thought this technique, the audience is smoothly taken through Romeos traits, that is, a loving person as in the case of Juliet and as a violent person in pursuit of vengeance for Mercutio’s death (Scott 139).
In summary, it is no secret that for receiving a lot of attention that has lasted for over five decades as well as being a top study and reference literary article, Shakespeare’s works ought to be emulated by all. As affirmed herein, the Leonardo DiCaprio film on the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ story brings with it a few twists in presentation that are expected in any translated versions. The beauty of language, the plot and, most importantly, the message is retained in the film just as it is in the play. For people who might wish to save time and better still get a ready and vivid picture of the tragic romance, the film is a must-watch. This is because it has included the comic effects that ease the tension in the story and transformed Shakespeare’s words into a two-hour video that will arouse in you, emotions and thoughts you never experienced before.
Works Cited
Hoffert, Barbara. “Romeo And/Or Juliet: A Chooseable-Path Adventure.” Library Journal 141.2 (2016): 54-56. Academic Search Premier. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.
Rozen, Leah. “William Shakespeare’s Romeo And Juliet.” People 46.20 (1996): 21. Academic Search Premier. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.
Scott, Lindsey. “Closed In A Dead Man’s Tomb”: Juliet, Space, And The Body In Franco Zeffirelli’s And Baz Luhrmann’s Films Of Romeo And Juliet.” Literature Film Quarterly 36.2 (2008): 137-146. Academic Search Premier. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.


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Similarities and Differences Between Shakespeare’s Play and “Romeo and Juliet” Film. (2022, Feb 28). Retrieved from

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