Essay by EStringerHigh School, 10th gradeA+, May 2012

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'The difference between Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo & Juliet (1968) and Baz Luhrmann's version of Romeo & Juliet (1996) is simply a modernisation created by Luhrmann to attract a teenage audience.'

To what extent do you agree with this statement?

Romeo and Juliet, written by William Shakespeare, is a tragic love story about two young lovers who are forced to be estranged as a result of their feuding families. The play is about their struggle to contravene fate and create a future together. As such, Hollywood has tried to emulate Shakespeare's masterpiece. This had been done before in many films. Prominent among them were, Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 "Romeo and Juliet" and Baz Luhrmann's 1996 "William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet." Both films stay true to the themes of Shakespeare's original play. However, the modernised Luhrmann film not only maintains the essence of Shakespeare's writings, Luhrmann makes it relevant to a teenage audience.

This is done through upgrading of the setting, the renewal of props and costumes, the use of water symbolism and the reconstruction of the prologue, whilst preserving the original Shakespearean language. Out of the two, it is Luhrmann who targets Romeo & Juliet to a younger audience to a much larger extent than Zeffirelli.

Luhrmann's variation of the film is more suited to a teenage audience than Zeffirelli's, due to the vibrant settings and modern sets utilised throughout the film. Several of these sets include the beach, high rise buildings and petrol stations. These factors are used to entice a younger audience. Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet, however, takes place in a medieval Italian city. Although the original play was based and performed in this location, teenage viewers cannot relate to the surroundings, hence making it difficult to understand...