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

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Analysis of BBC Romeo and Juliet pt. II

-Continuation of previous post- 
What major themes are strongly represented?
    -Individual vs. Community

How does the costume/setting/language/cultural representation affect the themes in the play?
    -Ancient Verona, complete with full costumes and and streets. Overall, I don't feel like the any of these where used as a vehicle for thematic interpretation. It seemed more of an effort to maintain historical accuracy.

How do the actors portray certain characters? Again, how does this affect the themes represented?
    -Juliet - Juliet’s youth is portrayed very accurately. She looks like she is 13, which was appropriate for the time period, but I feel with more modern audiences it creates issues because you automatically associate her youth with immaturity. Thus, the theme of love becomes a more cautionary tale, one in which it seems that poor decisions only lead to pain. She's too young to be prepared to know what love really is.
    Juliet, however, is also portrayed as extremely independent. She chases for Romeo just as fiercely, as he pursues her, and is just as willing to abandon family times as Romeo. She passionately refuses to marry Paris. She readily agrees that she should pretend to be dead (causing her family unspeakable anguish) so that she can be with Hamlet. These actions make the film emphasize the theme of Individual vs. Community more strongly than any other theme. Juliet will do anything for love (i.e. Romeo) and doesn’t care who she leaves behind. She doesn’t even think about the pain she’ll cause her family, but instead only seeks her own gratification. Which is a very Western approach, I would be very curious to know what Middle-east/Eastern cultures think about Romeo and Juliet ignoring their families wishes.
    -Romeo - Romeo is...rash. Romeo can be portrayed as being passionate without being Rash, but in this interpretation he is extremely rash. He kisses Juliet in the middle of the dance floor. He tries to scale the balcony and ends up falling flat on his back. His fight with Tybalt is brutal, he kicks Tybalt in the groin while fighting him, which is just dirty fighting. When going to see Juliet's grave he  doesn't even think twice befroe killing Paris, and is extremely unemotional when he does it. All these add up to a Romeo who I have a hard time relating to. The tragedy isn't causes because of fate, but because of his own poor choices. It seems less like a tragedy and more of a cautionary tale. Don't be like Romeo otherwise you'll end up dead...

Would Shakespeare be rolling over in his grave if he knew about this interpretation?
    -Unlikely. I may not have thought it too well done but it was completely true to the letter of the law if not necessarily the spirit.

What kind of interaction is there between main characters?
    -Friar John & Romeo - It becomes impossible to take Romeo serious in this play when he is set against Friar John. The friar is an older, wise man who calms Romeo down every time. This is especially evident when Romeo is banished from Verona and he goes to talk to the Friar. Romeo threatens to commit suicide, whines like a child, and then throws himself on the ground throwing a tantrum. The image of Friar John trying to lift Romeo off the ground like he's child whose mom won't buy him a candy bar, ruined my opinion of Romeo (which wasn't all that great before) Whether or not this was the directors intent, it seriously affects the portrayal of love - I can't take it seriously anymore. If Romeo isn't able to act maturely then he shouldn't be able to love maturely and their love is simple, weak, and hardly worth the whole hubbub.
    -Juliet & Tybalt - I didn't imagine too much love being lost between Juliet and Tybalt, hence, I didn't see why everyone thought she would freak out over his death. However, in this film, it shows several pleasant interactions between Juliet and Tybalt (especially at the dance, you see them dancing and smiling together) This affects the theme of hate because it makes Tybalt more likeable. In turn, it becomes harder to imagine this likeable young man being so full of hate and spite. Overall, this interaction between the two reduces my dislike of Tybalt, which reduces the feelings of conflict and hate, making hate a less powerful theme.
    -Juliet & Romeo - First, I need to get this off my chest. Juliet looks like she's 13. Romeo looks like he's 28. Uncomfortable. Yes, typically I think not taking liberties with Shakespeare is important. However, when this was written the practice of young/old marriage was more acceptable. It's not anymore, so I am perfectly okay with a director making them closer in age. The reason isn't because I'm slightly creeped out by this (which I am) but because as a 24 year old I can't even imagine feeling any of the emotional, mental, or physical connections towards a 13 year old. These connections are necessary to foster enduring love. Therefore, because I can't conceive feeling this form of love, it seems highly unlikely for Romeo and Juliet to have a love that will endure the difficulties of life. This creates a serious problem for the theme of love. I can't imagine it being a powerful tale of tragic love, when I can't conceive these two individuals being in love. 

    -Even though this wasn't my personal favorite film. I am glad to have watched it first, it's adherence to the text and cultural setting definitely give me a baseline to compare other films with. Already, I've noticed that other films emphasize the same theme differently because I compare it to the BBC version. If nothing else, I'd say it's worth watching because it provides such a traditional rendering of the play. 

1 comment:

  1. Romeo....

    That is really interesting. Back in those days is was considered scandalous to just hold hands, to have hands touching was as big of a deal as kissing,

    ...And their!