The Tale of Juliet and her Romeo re-incarnated…again

Official Romeo and Juliet movie poster.

Official Romeo and Juliet movie poster.

As Shakespearean fanatics know, a new adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, directed by Carlo Carlei, came out on October 11.

However, with all the past adaptations of this tragic classic, the question remains, can this adaptation surpass all the others? The most popular versions of, arguably, the most famous love story in history include the 1968 version directed by Franco Zeffirelli and the 1996 version Romeo + Juliet, directed by Baz Luhrmann.

The 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet most closely resembles the physical characteristics of the 2013 adaptation. Both take place in the time period of Shakespeare’s original play in Verona. However, the most recent movie was filmed in the actual city of Verona at real sites in the city. The characters wear time period costumes, fight with swords, and dance traditional style dances. Basically, the newest version of Romeo and Juliet is a history buff’s dream. However, the 1996 version portrays a more modern themed appearance. Romeo and Juliet set the story in a modern Verona with mini-skirts instead of dresses and guns instead of swords.

Still, the charm of the original Shakespearean dialogue was preserved, which is more that can be said for the newest Romeo and Juliet.

The writer took liberties with liberties Shakespeare’s original script, which have enraged some die hard Shakespeare fans. Writer Julian Fellowes deviates from the original Shakespearean language, although most viewers have not memorized the whole Shakespearean script anyway. Fellowes defends his rewriting by saying that he wanted audiences of all academic backgrounds to enjoy the movie, not just those with a scholarly understanding of Shakespearean language.

While the other two adaptations may have not committed the sin of rewriting the original words of the famous playwright, they have had their fair share of controversial scenes.

In the 1968 version, the 15 year-old actress who played Juliet, Olivia Hussey, had a nude scene. While the actress who plays Juliet, Hailee Steinfeld, was the same age when this 2013 adaptation was filmed, Carlei made sure to keep her love scene with costar Douglas Booth, who plays Romeo, up to societal standards. In other words, much was implied, but nothing was shown, except a very nice view of a shirtless Douglas Booth.

The image of new faces, Booth and Steinfeld, makes a pretty impression, but the two had little to no connection on screen. The heart wrenching scenes that made audiences cry in the Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes 1996 version, lacked the emotion that their predecessors had been able to portray. The two had nothing going for them except delicate, innocent looks. It seemed like neither understood the words they were saying, even after the hard work Fellowes put in to simplify the language for the uneducated masses. Older masters of the art of performance, such as Damian Lewis (playing Lord Capulet) and Paul Giamatti (playing Friar Lawrence) played their parts with much more emotion than the young couple. More emotion was evoked by the deaths of Tybalt, played by Ed Westwick, and Mercutio, played by Christian Cooke, than the untimely deaths of the two main characters.

All in all, Romeo and Juliet remains the most re-done love story in history.

Even the Aslo theater company came to AHN with their version. Each generation tries their hand at the famous play. This generation has tried everything they could to draw in a younger crowd: rewriting a simpler script, employing a mix of upcoming actors with seasoned ones, employing real backdrops from the city of Verona. Still, the vintage versions or Romeo and Juliet recall better memories and emotions than this modern adaptation. With any luck, the next generation of Romeo and Juliet will employ a mix of all the best parts of past versions.