Romeo and Juliet on screen

Romeo and Juliet on screen

:"See also: Shakespeare on screen."

William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" may be the most-screened play of all time. The most notable theatrical releases were George Cukor's multi-Oscar-nominated 1936 production, Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 version, and Baz Luhrmann's 1996 MTV-inspired "Romeo + Juliet". The latter two were both, in their time, the highest-grossing Shakespeare film ever. Cukor featured Norma Shearer and Leslie Howard, with a combined age over 75, as the teenage lovers. Zeffirelli populated his film with beautiful young people, and Baz Luhrmann produced a heavily-cut fast-paced version aimed at teenage audiences. [Orgel, Stephen "Shakespeare Illustrated" in Shaughnessy, Robert (ed.) "The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and Popular Culture" (Cambridge University Press, 2007, ISBN 978-0-521-60580-9) p.91]

Several reworkings of the story have also been filmed, most notably "West Side Story", "Prokofiev's ballet" and "Romanoff and Juliet". Several theatrical films, such as "Shakespeare in Love" and "Romeo Must Die", consciously use elements of Shakespeare's plot.

ignificant feature releases

George Cukor (1936)

Producer Irving Thalberg pushed MGM for five years to make a "Romeo and Juliet", in the face of the studio's opposition: which stemmed from Louis B. Mayer's belief that the masses considered the Bard over their heads, and from the austerity forced on the studios by the depression. It was only when Jack Warner announced his intention to film Max Reinhardt's A Midsummer Night's Dream that Mayer, not to be outdone, gave Thalberg the go-ahead. [Brode, Douglas "Shakespeare in the Movies: From the Silent Era to Today" (2001, Berkeley Boulevard, New York, ISBN 0-425-18176-6) p.43] Thalberg's stated intention was "to make the production what Shakespeare would have wanted had he possessed the facilities of cinema." [Thalberg, Irving - quoted by Brode, p.44] He went to great lengths to establish authenticity and the film's intellectual credentials: researchers were sent to Verona to take photographs for the designers; the paintings of Botticelli, Bellini, Carpaccio and Gozzoli were studied to provide visual inspiration; and two academic advisers (John Tucker Murray of Harvard and William Strunk, Jr. of Cornell) were flown to the set, with instructions to criticise the production freely. [Brode, p.44] The film includes two songs drawn from other plays by Shakespeare: "Come Away Death" from "Twelfth Night" and "Honour, Riches, Marriage, Blessing" from "The Tempest". [Tatspaugh, Patricia "The Tragedy of Love on Film" in Jackson, Russell "The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Film" (Cambridge University Press, 2000, ISBN 0-521-63975-1) p.137] Thalberg had only one choice for director: George Cukor, who was known as "the women's director". Thalberg's vision was that the performance of Norma Shearer, his wife, would dominate the picture. [Brode, p.44]

Daniel Rosenthal describes Troma Studios' 1996 "Tromeo and Juliet" as "the nadir of screen Shakespeare". [Rosenthal, p.221] This Manhattan-set "trash" adaptation features Lemmy (of Motörhead) as its chorus. Tony Howard summarises it as a film "in which Juliet and the Nurse have lesbian sex, Romeo masturbates, various body parts are removed, the feud is between rival porn czars and incest rules". [Howard, p.298]

Disney's 1998 animated film "" is based on Romeo and Juliet's storyline, although it has a happy ending.Fact|date=September 2008

Cheah Chee-Kong's 2000 Singaporean film "Chicken Rice War" ("Jiyuan Qiaohe") adapts "Romeo and Juliet" as a lowbrow romantic comedy set amidst the rivalry between two adjacent rice stalls. [Rosenthal, p.229] The central characters (Fenson Pierre Png and Audrey Lum May Yee) are cast as Romeo and Juliet in a production of Shakespeare's play, staged in a car park, which their families manage to ruin through their rivalry. The comic mood is underpinned by cheerful songs from Tanya Chua. [Rosenthal, pp.229-30] The film won the Discovery Award at the 2001 Toronto International Film Festival. [Rosenthal, p.230]

In 2005, "Romeo and Juliet" became a high-profile six-minute H&M advertising campaign, directed by David LaChapelle, featuring Tamyra Gray as Juliet and Gus Carr as Romeo, to a musical background sung by Mary J. Blige. [Burnett, Mark Thornton and Wray, Ramona "Introduction" in Burnett, Mark Thornton and Wray, Ramona (eds.) "Screening Shakespeare in the Twenty-First Century" (Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 2006, ISBN 978-0-7486-2351-8) pp.2-7. This source gives the link, which no longer features a playable version of the short film. An image can be seen [] ] The play has also been used to advertise Polo mints and Rolo. [McKernan, p,20]

The most recent screen adaptation to garner worldwide attention is Disney's "High School Musical" (2006), which began as a made-for-tv Disney movie and was subsequently turned into a live stage musical and touring concert. According to executive producer Bill Borden, "Our story line is maybe not the most original or creative, but it's Shakespearean", describing the plot as a modern version of Romeo and Juliet. "We took from the best." [Gold, Matea. [ "Disney scores kid points with 'High School Musical' "] "Los Angeles Times". Retrieved 19 August 2007.] In the show, the two young love interests, Troy and Gabriella, are from rival cliques. [cite web |url= |date=2006 |title=Disney's teenage musical 'phenomenon' premieres in London |accessdate=2007-08-19 |date=11 |year=2006 |month=September |work=Daily Mail] They resist the wishes of their families and their peers to be together, and try-out for the winter musical that is dividing the school. [Gold] In David Simpatico's stage version, the title of the musical ("Twinkletown" in the movie) was changed to "Juliet and Romeo".Fact|date=February 2008

Films featuring performances, or composition

Another way in which film-makers and authors use Shakespearean texts is to feature characters who are actors performing those texts, within a wider non-Shakespearean story. "Hamlet" and "Romeo and Juliet" are the two plays which have most often been used in this way. [McKernan, Luke and Terris, Olwen (eds.) "Walking Shadows: Shakespeare in the National Film and Television Archive" (British Film Institute, 1994, ISBN 0-85170-486-7) list 45 instances of uses of Hamlet, not including films of the play itself, at pp.45-66. They list 39 such instances for Romeo and Juliet at pp.141-156. The next closest is Othello, with 23 instances, at pp.119-131.] Usually, Shakespeare's story has some parallel or resonance with the main plot. Films featuring characters performing scenes from "Romeo and Juliet" include the 1912 and 1982 film versions of Charles Dickens' "Nicholas Nickleby", "Cured Hams" (1927), "Drama De Luxe" (1927), "Broadway Fever" (1928), "Les Amants de Vérone" (1949), "Marjorie Morningstar" (1958), "Carry on Teacher" (1959) "Shakespeare Wallah" (1965) and, significantly, "Shakespeare in Love" (1998). [McKernan and Terris, pp.141-156]

The 1941 film Playmates features bandleader Kay Kyser and Shakespearean actor John Barrymore playing themselves in a plot which involves Kyser producing an adaptation featuring "swing musician Romeo Smith and opera singer Juliet Jones, with Juliet's father, a devotee of classical music, as obstacle to their romance." [Sanders, Julie "Shakespeare and Music: Afterlives and Borrowings" (Polity Press, 2007, ISBN 978-07456-3297-1) p.24]

André Cayatte's "Les Amants de Vérone" (France, 1949) features Georgia (Anouk Aimée), the daughter of the declining Maglia family (roughly the equivalent of Shakespeare's Capulets) who meets her Romeo in working-class Angelo (Serge Reggiani) while working as stand-ins for the actors playing Romeo and Juliet in a film of the play. [Rosenthal, p.211] The film is a melodramatic reworking of the Romeo and Juliet story, centering on the beauty and passion of the protagonists, and ending with their tragic deaths. [Rosenthal, pp.211-2]

The conceit of dramatising Shakespeare writing Romeo and Juliet has been used several times. The oddball 1944 B-movie "Time Flies" features the comedy duo Susie and Bill Barton, who, time travelling, encounter a Shakespeare struggling for words for his balcony scene, which Susie (Evelyn Dall) supplies from memory, while Bill interrupts with quips. [Lanier, Douglas "Shakespeare™: myth and biographical fiction" in Shaughnessy, Robert (ed.) "The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and Popular Culture" (Cambridge University Press, 2007, ISBN 978-0-521-60580-9) p.96] [McKernan and Terris, p.146] John Madden's 1998 "Shakespeare in Love" depicts Shakespeare's process in composing "Romeo and Juliet" against the backdrop of his own doomed love affair. Writers Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard exploited another commonplace of Shakespeare-related films, which scholar Tony Howard describes as the "playing Shakespeare is a gateway to self-fulfilment" plot. [Howard, p.310.] As he explains it, "an ill-matched crew of Elizabethan theatre people are transformed and united by the process of creating "Romeo and Juliet". [Howard, p.310.] The film's climax includes Judi Dench's Elizabeth I declaring that Shakespeare's play "can show us the very truth and nature of love." [Howard, p.310; Rosenthal, p.228]

List of Screen Performances

*Romeo and Juliet (USA, silent, 1908)
**J. Stuart Blackton director
**Florence Lawrence as Juliet
**Paul Panzer as Romeo
*Romeo and Juliet (USA, silent, 1916)
**J. Gordon Edwards director
**Theda Bara as Juliet
*Romeo and Juliet (USA, 1936)
**George Cukor director
**Norma Shearer as Juliet
**Leslie Howard as Romeo
**John Barrymore as Mercutio
**Andy Devine as Peter
***The film received four Academy Awards nominations: [ [ Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences] database for 1936 Oscars, accessed 15 April 2008.]
****Outstanding Production - Irving Thalberg, producer
****Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Basil Rathbone - as Tybalt
****Best Actress - Norma Shearer
****Best Art Direction - Cedric Gibbons, Fredric Hope and Edwin B. Willis
*Romeo and Juliet (UK, 1954)
**Renato Castellani director
**Susan Shentall as Juliet
**Laurence Harvey as Romeo
**Flora Robson as the Nurse
**Mervyn Johns as Friar Laurence.
*Romeo and Juliet (Italy, 1968)
**Franco Zeffirelli director
**Olivia Hussey as Juliet
**Leonard Whiting as Romeo
***The film won two Academy Awards:
****best cinematography
****best costume design.
***It had two further Academy Award nominations:
****Best Director
****Best Picture.
*BBC Television Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet (TV, UK, 1978), released in the USA as part of the "Complete Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare" series.
*The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet (USA, 1983)
**William Woodman director
**Blanche Baker as Juliet
**Alex Hyde-White as Romeo
*Romeo and Juliet (TV, UK, 1988)
**Joan Kemp-Welch director
**Ann Hasson as Juliet
**Christopher Neame as Romeo
*The Animated Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet (TV, Russia and UK, 1992)
**Efim Gamburg director
**Felicity Kendal as narrator
**Clare Holman as the voice of Juliet
**Linus Roache as the voice of Romeo
*Romeo+Juliet (aka “William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet”) (USA, 1996)
**Baz Luhrmann director
**Claire Danes as Juliet
**Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo
***The film received one Oscar nomination for Best Art Direction and Set Decoration (Catherine Martin and Brigitte Broch)

List of Screen Adaptations

*Beneath the 12 Mile Reef (USA, 1953) transposes the general plot of the play to rival fishing families in Depression-era Florada.
*Romanoff and Juliet (USA, 1960) is a film of Peter Ustinov's theatrical Cold War adaptation.
*West Side Story (USA, 1961) is the film of a Broadway musical adaptation of the Romeo and Juliet story, set in 1950s New York, by Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein
**Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins directors
**Natalie Wood as Maria
*Romie-0 and Julie-8 (Canada, 1979) is a made-for-television animated film in which the two leads are depicted as robots who fall in love.
**Clive A. Smith, director
**Greg Swanson as the voice of Romie-0
**Donann Cavin as the voice of Julie-8
*The Sea Prince and the Fire Child (Japan, 1981) is an anime adaptation.
*Tromeo and Juliet (USA, 1996) is a "trash" adaptation, tagged: "Body Piercing, Kinky Sex, Dismemberment. The Things That Made Shakespeare Great."
**Lloyd Kaufman director
**Lemmy from Motörhead as narrator.
**Jane Jensen as Juliet Capulet
**Will Keenan as Tromeo Que
*Love Is All There Is is a comic take on the tragic story, set in The Bronx, involving two Italian immigrant families who own opposing restaurants.
**Nathaniel Marston as Rosario (the Romeo character)
**Angelina Jolie as Gina (the Juliet character)
*Romeo Must Die (2000) is a martial arts film variation on the Romeo and Juliet theme.
**Andrzej Bartkowiak director
**Jet Li as Han
**Aaliyah as Trish O’Day
*Underworld (2003) is a dark update of Romeo & Juliet using Vampires and Werewolves.Fact|date=March 2008
**Kate Beckinsale as Seline (the Juliet character)
**Scott Speedman as Michael (the Romeo character)
*حبك نار (Hobak Nar or "Your love is fire") (Egypt, 2004) is an Egyptian film, setting the tragedy in modern Cairo.
*Pizza My Heart (USA, TV, 2005) is a comic adaptation set in Verona, New Jersey.
* (USA, 2006) is an animated adaptation of the story told with seals and features a kid-friendly happy ending.
*Romeo x Juliet (Japan, TV, 2007) is an anime series derived from the play.
* draws huge influences from the Romeo and Juliet story.

List of Significant Parallels

*Theatre of Blood features a Shakespearean actor who takes poetic revenge on the critics who denied him recognition, including a fencing scene inspired by Romeo and Juliet.
*Shakespeare in Love dramatises the writing and first performance of Romeo and Juliet.


All references to "Romeo and Juliet", unless otherwise specified, are taken from Gibbons, Brian "Romeo and Juliet" Arden Shakespeare second series (London, Methuen, 1980, ISBN 0-416-17850-2). Under its referencing system, which uses Roman numerals, II.ii.33 means act 2, scene 2, line 33. A zero instead of a scene number refers to the prologue to either of the first two acts.

Further reading

*Martin, Jennifer L. "Tights vs. Tattoos: Filmic Interpretations of 'Romeo and Juliet'." "The English Journal." 92.1 "Shakespeare for a New Age" (Sep 2002) pp. 41–46 doi:10.2307/821945.
*Lehmann, Courtney. "Strictly Shakespeare? Dead Letters, Ghostly Fathers, and the Cultural Pathology of Authorship in Baz Luhrmann's 'William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet'." "Shakespeare Quarterly". 52.2 (Summer 2001) pp. 189–221.

External links

*imdb title | id=0028203 | title=Romeo and Juliet

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