Shakespeare's Timeless Love Story Retold in Film Essay

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“He was not of an age, but for all time!”, described Ben Jonson in regards to Shakespeare (qtd. in Chrisp 62). As research proves, there is no doubt to the truth of this statement. Adding to Jonson’s words in regards to Shakespeare’s timelessness Peter Chrisp explains that “there have been more than 500 film and TV adaptations of Shakespeare’s dramas” (Chrisp 65; Mabillard). Furthermore, in the introduction to Gnomeo and Juliet, a Red Good Gnome says, “The story we are about to tell has been told before… a lot” (Asbury, “Gnomeo & Juliet”). While likely meant as simply another comedic line in film, there is significant truth to that statement. Regarding this, within the theater and film industries Romeo and Juliet is very recognizable. As…show more content…
Some of the most dramatic films inspired by Romeo and Juliet directly used Shakespeare’s sonnets in the films. First of all 1936 brought MGM’s black-and-white Romeo and Juliet produced by Irving G. Thalberg. On the good side, the film was unbelievably luxurious and authentic, spending close to the equivalent of $80 million dollars (Rosenthal 122). Sadly the young lovers could not be accurately portrayed by the well-aged actors of 35 and 43 years (Rosenthal 122). As the 19th century continued, Franco Zeffirelli directed his highly successful 1968 Romeo and Juliet in full color (Zeffirelli, “Romeo and Juliet”). Contradicting the 1938 rendition, “he chose actors almost as young as their characters” with 17-year-old Leonard Whiting as Romeo and 15-year-old Olivia Hussey as Juliet (Rosenthal 128). Despite the controversial wedding-scene nudity, in addition to some minor changes in Shakespeare’s words, the film was still highly successful (Rosenthal 128). Finally in 1996 came the film William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet. Using Shakespeare’s verse in a modern 1990s Miami-like Verona Beach, Baz Luhrmann, the director, stated, “We wanted to look at how Shakespeare would’ve made a movie if he were here today” (qtd. in Rosenthal 130). Luhrmann’s truly stunning couple is played by

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