9 Working with a film (p. 150)

Romeo and Juliet

Copyright: Getty Images

The film version directed by Baz Luhrman, 1996 (121 min.).
Featuring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes.

Here is a work sheet for this film:




1. How does the film start, and how does it end?

2. The film is set in modern times, whereas the play is set in the 16th century. Do you think changing the setting like this was a good idea? Give reasons to support  your answer. 

3. How can you see that the film is aimed at a young audience? 

4. What elements of contemporary life (objects, activities, lifestyle) are presented in the film? 

5. Do you think the contrast between Shakespeare’s original text and the modern setting worked? Why or why not?

6. In Tracks 2 there is an extract from the so-called balcony scene (p. 132). In the film the beginning of this scene has been changed in a funny way. What happens?

7. Compare the courtship scenes with the scenes presenting the clashes between the Capulets and the Montagues. What techniques are used to convey romance as opposed to violence?

8. Sum up your overall response to the film. Did you find the two lovers’ passion convincing? Why or why not? In your opinion, what were the most successful aspects of the film? What did you find less successful? Give reasons to support your answers.

Next Step:

1. What are your reactions to this film? Changing the setting (time and place) of a play is often done. Do you think it is ok to do so? In this case, does it change the essence of the play? Better/worse?

2. Did you recognize any of the music used in this film? What do you think about the choice and use of music? Did the two families, any of the characters, or any of the scenes have a special "leitmotif"?

3. Did you notice the "colour-coding" and different styles of the two families and their followers? Is this done just to make it easier for us to keep them apart, or does this happen in real life?

4. Compare the way the play ends with the ending of the film.

5. It has been said that Romeo and Juliet is the play that has always made young people feel Shakespeare was their secret ally. Discuss.

6. Many of the scenes in this film have their background not only in Shakespeare's text but in classical standard clichés from the film genre. Try to identify as many as possible of these scenes, and if you can, specific films they relate to (shoot-outs, beach scenes, car racing, gas station scene, pool scene). Shakespeare's swords and daggars of course become guns, but the fighting in the film was there in the play. Getting the letter to Romeo in Mantua was actually stopped by fear of pestilence spreading, but the car/postman scene in this film is a reference to Zeffirelli's film version from 1968 where Friar John has a mule and Balthasar a horse.

7. If you know other Shakespeare plays it is worth watching this film once just for the sake of "namespotting". There are lots of references to characters from famous plays, as owners of hot dog joints, in articles in the newspapers we see etc, etc. Did you see any of these?

Oppgaver hentet fra Norsk Filminstitutt (http://www.nfi.no/barnunge/filmstudieark/film.html?id=189)

The film's official website: http://www.romeoandjuliet.com/