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Tone Evaluation of Two Romeo and Juliet Films

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Tone Evaluation of Two Romeo and Juliet Films

With the use of costuming, lighting, and music, the romantic tone of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is less effectively portrayed in Franco Zeffirelli’s film but is portrayed more effectively in Baz Luhrmann’s film.

Although Zeffirelli’s use of costuming conveys a somewhat romantic tone, Luhrmann’s use of costuming better conveys the romantic tone. In Zeffirelli’s film, Romeo is costumed in dark party clothes in the style of the wealthy party goers. Although Romeo’s black clothes show a lack of innocence, they would not impress Juliet. She is accustomed to wealthy, well-dressed people. In Luhrmann's film, Romeo is dressed in dark clothes that a knight would wear. This costuming not only shows a lack of innocence for Romeo, but also that he is considered a hero by Juliet. In both films, Juliet is dressed in white. However, her dress appears more princess-like in Luhrmann’s film. The plain white dress worn by Juliet in Zeffirelli’s film does convey a romantic tone, but Juliet’s more princess-like dress in Luhrmann’s film matches Romeo’s knight attire to better convey the romantic tone. Although Zeffirelli’s use of costuming did convey the romantic tone, Luhrmann better conveyed the tone by having the costumes of Romeo and Juliet represent a hero and a princess.

In addition to his use of costuming, Zeffirelli’s use of dim lighting throughout less accurately conveys the romantic tone compared to Luhrman’s use of slightly overall brighter lighting and bottom-up lighting during the pool scene. In Zefferelli’s film, the lighting stayed dim throughout the scene with the exception of a slight bit of moonlight. It could be argued that dim lighting is more romantic; however, with dim lighting throughout, there is no suspense created by changes in lighting. The lighting during the early part of the scene in Luhrmann’s film is dim, but not so dim that Romeo and Juliet could not clearly see each other. The dim lighting adds a bit of suspense as to what is to come later in the scene. During the pool scene of Luhrmann’s film when Juliet says, “thou knowest the mask of night is on my face, else would a maiden blush bepaint my cheek,” there is bottom-up lighting on the faces of Romeo and Juliet (2.2.90-91). This use of bottom-up lighting clearly illuminates the faces of Romeo and Juliet. By lighting Juliet’s face, viewers can see that she is blushing. Different directions and brightness levels of lighting can be used to transmit a message without it having to be said. Zeffirelli does not use this technique as well as Luhrmann.

As well the his use of costuming and lighting, Zefferelli’s use of soft and slow music less accurately portrays the romantic tone compared to Luhrmann’s use of soft and slow, loud and fast music. During Juliet’s

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