ANalysis of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet", West Side Story and Baz Luhrmann's "Romeo and Juliet". What values have changed to alter the context of the story?

Essay by slappy_chops September 2004

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ASSESSMENT TASK: Transformations

Romeo and Juliet

A text that embodies the values and beliefs exclusive to one niche in time would be difficult to adapt to any other context, unlike Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet'. This text contains universal values that have proven to be relevant to generations over four hundred years and is still continuing to appeal to audiences today. 'Romeo and Juliet' is a timeless story that has been adapted from the stage to film, television and novels, which demonstrates the strength of the message conveyed by Shakespeare that appears to tap into the most basic of human emotions and feelings. The evidence provided by the by the adaptations give us insight into both the way the text has been transformed and why it has been transformed. The text in its altered state shows the audience what emotions Shakespeare was able to lock into his play that are so rudimentary that they relate to humans in every context.

Luhrmann retains Shakespeare's script in his version, providing a stark contrast to the contemporary setting of the movie and acknowledging that his adaptation is paying homage to that of the original composer. The contrast between the setting and the language in Lurmann's 'Romeo and Juliet' can be seen in the last fight between Tybalt and Romeo. Tybalt says to Romeo- 'the love I bear thee can afford no better term than this: thou art a villain'. The language Tybalt uses to insult Romeo would be difficult to find in the vocabulary of a modern day American gang-member that Tybalts character represents. Another indication that the script has been placed into a different context is evident through the absence of much of the script. The reason for this is that Luhrmann can replace the script with...