I figure that if I just keep typing, something profound will eventually come out of all this -

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Analysis of BBC Romeo and Juliet pt. I

What major themes are strongly represented?
    -Individual vs. Community

How true to the text does the film remain?
    -Relatively true. For the most part the lines follow the text perfectly with some exceptions. These exceptions are mostly to increase the clarity of the language to a more modern audience. Although there are moments when entire passages are removed from the play. These were primarily moments of banter and didn't necessarily affect the focus of the themes.

How true to the plot does the film remain? 
    -Completely true. Everyone dies who is supposed to and all characters meet age criteria (i.e. Juliet looks like she's 13 and Romeo looks like he's 26)

What minor characters receive more screen time and how does that affect the play? 
How does the portrayal of minor characters affect the play?
    -Servant & Nurse - While reading the text, you get a feel that the servant has elements of comedic relief (not being able to read and needing Romeo to tell him who to invite to the party) but in the play he's portrayed by a goofy-looking, slightly overweight gentleman of 24 (reminiscent of John Belushi) and the nurse is played by a rather old woman in her 70's. Then, you constantly have hints of a flirty, romantic relationship throughout the entire movie (dancing, hugging, flirting) This adds a definite comedic element, but more importantly it downplays the theme of hate. It's hard to hate either family when you realize they're composed of regular, happy people. Especially when you don't see much negative interaction between the families throughout the film. Their relationship adds an almost slapstick element to the play.
Left-Mercutio Middle-Tybalt
    -Mercutio & Tybalt - Mercutio isn't the smooth, quick-tongued rogue I imagined while reading and Tybalt isn't a hot-headed jerk. Mercutio is portrayed as annoying, the kind of loud-mouth jerk that you really want to hit. Tybalt on the other hand (played by Alan Rickman - Snape in the Harry Potters) is fairly calm. Yes, he gets mad at Romeo for crashing the party but his angry doesn't seem like a joke like Mercutio. During their fight, I was rooting for Tybalt while when reading the text I rooted for Mercutio. The effect of this is that the theme of hate seems a little ridiculous. Mercution, who isn't even a Montague is the one who pushes everyone's buttons. He is more concerned with defending Romeo's honor than Romeo is. So while the theme of hatred between the two families is supposed to be this fiery impassion grudge, it just seemed like each side had a mild dislike. It was hotheads like Mercutio who got everything riled up.
    -Paris - Paris is an attractive, well-spoken, and kind man. When compared to Romeo, I really don't see what Juliet does. He's more attractive, he's even-tempered, and he is extremely kind to her. He's not this creeper I imaged while reading the play, a 30-something trying to pick up on a 13 year old girl through her father. He is the soul of courtesy. It makes it difficult to relate to Romeo and his love for Juliet when I find myself more naturally drawn to Paris, which seriously handicaps the portrayal of epic love. In the end, the portrayal of Paris makes Romeo and Juliet's love seem immature because he makes Romeo appear immature. I can't take Romeo's love seriously if there are other characters who I take more seriously than Romeo.

-More to come in the next post-


  1. Is Paris supposed to be a foil to Romeo?

  2. I think it is so interesting how the decision on how to portray a character can really effect your emotions towards that character in different ways. I know when we saw Winter's Tale that I was definitely more compassionate toward Leontes than when I read it.

    I guess I just saw the same thing happening to you in this production viewing...especially how you mention the nurse and the servant and your change of rooting for Tybalt vs. Mercutio.

    Production choices are so important in play production because it can change the whole feel.

  3. I don't think Paris is supposed to be a foil to Romeo necessarily...especially because he doesn't get that much time on stage, but it definitely could work.

    Seriously though, the character portrayal really does affect the play as a whole. I'm cruising through my 4th production right now and every single Tybalt is different.

    It's also funny how my wife pointed out that Juliet's mom was supposed to be as old as Juliet when she was pregnant with Juliet (13 and thus now in mid 20's) but she is always portrayed as being in her 40's/50's!