Compare/contrast: Balcony Scene
There are many things that make the balcony scenes in both the Franco Zeffirelli and the Baz Luhrmann productions so prolific. First, in the Zeffirelli production (1968), the setting was at evening with Romeo behind an overgrown garden and Juliet upstairs in what appeared to be an old hillside stone villa. This setting worked for me because the scene showed the reality that the other movie lacked. In this particular scene I thought Romeo and Juliet's performances were just perfect. Romeo seemed laid back but at the same time excited and sensual. I thought Juliet overacted and threw careless energy into the scene. She seemed very tense and fidgety. The choreography of this movie provided liveliness and bounce like I have never seen before. Juliet prances back and forth giggling playfully as Romeo climbs a tree--twice-- and embraces her fervently. When the lovers part and Romeo descends, the camera shows their two hands in a close-up, then pans back into a long shot, the distance between them growing, Romeo still reaching up to Juliet, and she still reaching down to him.
The Baz Luhrmann production (1996) was also very industrious. The setting was a flashy and frenetic pop realm as a backdrop on the streets of the beach in Verona, with lights everywhere. Romeo approaches a modern stone castle complete with a balcony, staircase, elevator, security cameras, Christmas lights, and swimming pool. I thought that DiCaprio lacked the intensity that the comparing Romeo had at the beginning. But by the end of the scene, you can feel the passion rising while the two are in the water. Overall, I thought he performed a great act. I enjoyed Juliet's performance a lot more in this version than the 1968 version. Juliet was passive but filled with drive,