Comparing Romeo and Juliet Death Scenes

1 January 2017

In the 1997 version of Romeo and Juliet, Luhrman used the many oxymorons, and ironic symbols to show his interpretation of the tragic death scene. One very important occurrence that kept happening in his movie was the uncertainty of the ending and close-calls. An example being when Romeo receives news that Juliet is dead in Mantua, he immediately gets in his car and drives off. If he had waited just a few more minutes, and thought rationally, the mailman would have delivered to him the letter from Friar Lawrence explaining everything.

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There are many other examples of this like when Romeo is about to take the poison, Juliet wakes up to watch him do it. When if he had waited five seconds, or she had been faster in telling him she’s okay, they would’ve lived happily! The director did this because he wanted to create a heavy air of irony. Even though we, as the audience know that the main characters don’t survive, the way he stages these close-calls makes the viewer uncertain as to what the ending will really be. This technique also helps to showcase the tragic flaw that makes up the tragical Romeo.

In the actual death scene itself, Luhrman did an excellent job of showing the passion, misfortune, and sorrow of the film. There is some debate on the change that Luhrman made concerning if he did Shakespeare’s original play justice. The fact that Friar Lawrence didn’t even appear is a crucial factor that was not included in his adaptation. Luhrman did this to illustrate the romance of such a dramatic scene in the final act of the movie, without the interruption of Friar Lawrence to destroy the sad beauty of it . At the end of the day Luhrman’s interpretation of the play was a extraordinary, contemporary, and beautifully styled.

In the Zefferelli version of Romeo and Juliet, although he portrayed the death scene in almost all it’s exactitude, there were still some components to be missed. Shakespeare was an amazing play-write that created fantastical stories, with web-like plot lines. Some of his plays, however have been lost in translation. The original play of Romeo and Juliet has certain elements in it that people of today’s society cannot relate to. An example of this is Juliet getting married at 14 to an older man. The fact that Zeferelli followed the original play makes it awkward to connect to.

One specific area that totally lost the audience was in the during the death of Romeo and Juliet, everything was so gawky and clumsy looking. The lines were hard to understand, the acting was definitely not up to par, and it really made the scene unrealistic, and not connectable. The whole scene itself was so awkward that people were laughing, and finding it comical! That’s one sure way to know that the director was not doing the play justice. Both of these movies are amazing films to watch, but it is very clear that Luhrman is the superior director.

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