Films from Literature ENG 2400

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  • #69272

    Prof. Masiello
    Participant

    This discussion thread is taken from the pdf I emailed to you about work for weeks 9, 10, and 11

    https://www.dropbox.com/sh/5ullhb1h17i2h7s/AAD9bYJ-8_DPZJr92bhODPG5a?dl=0&preview=Romeo+and+Juliet+nondisc.mp4 (65 minutes)

    “Called Romeo and Juliet nondisk,” this compilation shows various interpretations and film versions of this classic play.

    For discussion:

    a) Which of the film versions have you already seen?

    b) Which of the versions, based on the clips, do you feel works well or does not work? (the 1936 version deserves some attention and you will be grateful it is not the one we watch.)

    c) Please explain why you answered pro or con for item b…

    d) Which of the versions do you feel captures what the play is about?

    Note: West Side Story changes the character names, but it is essentially the same story.

    The Baz Luhrman/Leo DiCaprio version was updated to appeal to contemporary audiences.

    The most recent version, from 2013, adds bits of dialog that are not in the play, but are “Shakespearean” in sound.

    We will watch the best version, from 1968.

    #69348

    Christopher Lobato
    Participant

    a) Which of the film versions have you already seen?
    I have only watched the 1968 and 1998 versions of Romeo and Juliet. However, it has been a few years since I have last seen them.

    b) Which of the versions, based on the clips, do you feel works well or does not work?
    It is a bit difficult for me to say which of the films does not work from just the clips shown in the video, but I believe that the versions that worked the best were the 1968 and 1997 versions as well as West Side Story. Conversely, I think that the 2013 version and the 1936 version worked the least. As I previously mentioned, I do not believe any of them seemed like bad adaptations, so I’m curious as to why you said we would be grateful that we are not watching the 1936 version.

    c) Please explain why you answered pro or con for item b…
    Before deciding why each of the films works, it is key to first think about the themes and ideas of the play. One of the most integral parts of the tragedy is its dialogue about love. Along with love, other ideas also begin to emerge, such as love and youth, love and fate, and love and society(family). Along with these, other factors decide if the film works or not, such as the period the films emulate and changes made to the original dialogue.

    Firstly the 1936 version works the least because of its depiction of love and youth. Both Norma Shearer and Leslie Howard are much older than the characters they are portraying. Their interactions also lack the same playfulness that the dialogue in the play depicts. The film seems like a faithful adaptation, but it feels undistinguished, and it downplays the family conflict. However, this can be because it came out in 1936, and casting younger actors would have been problematic.

    Conversely, the 2013 version is a much more dramatic adaptation that features many younger-looking actors. As a result, the interactions are much more playful and emphasize the love and youth aspects of the play. In turn, it makes the film more cliched because of its dramatics.

    However, unlike the first two films mentioned, the 1996 Romeo + Juliet does not share the same setting. The film features a more modern setting instead of a traditional Verona setting. The film works because it allows for greater appeal to newer audiences while not changing the dialogue. It also allows for more creative scenarios that differentiate from the play. Like the 1936 version, this film features younger actors, but it also seems to focus more on the family conflict. The film also includes some interesting added effects that create a supernatural feel that accentuates this idea of fate. For example, the storm and rain that appear at the death of Mercutio and Tybalt.

    Similarly, West Side Story also deviates in setting and has a large focus on the conflict of love and society. It interestingly retells the story but is not alienating to the point where it is not apparent that the plot derives from Romeo and Juliet. Like the other films, it has a large focus on the love and relationship between the two protagonists. Overall, this reimaging works and creates a more vibrant, youthful, urban Romeo and Juliet.

    Lastly, the 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet works. The film is a faithful depiction of the play and attempts to create a convincing portrayal of Verona. The actors who play Romeo and Juliet are also close to the age of the characters they are portraying.

    d) Which of the versions do you feel captures what the play is about?
    Ultimately, the 1968 Romeo and Juliet best captures what the play is about. The reason for this is because it fulfills all the themes mentioned above like, love and youth, love and fate, and love, and society(family). In the first meeting scene, the non-diegetic music playing establishes the tone of and foreshadows the events of the story. The song’s lyrics talk about youth and life being transitory, as well as the overpowering nature of love and passion. It also foreshadows the fact that the play is a tragedy and inserts this idea about fate by implying that these star-crossed lovers will eventually fade away. The conversation that follows this also elaborates on the fact that the love must be secretive and separate from society with the way Romeo grabs Juliet’s hand first and not face to face in secret before she looks him in the eyes. The dialogue and the acting also make their relationship seem flirtatious and youthful, especially with the scene of Leonard Whiting hanging from the tree after his conversation with Juliet. The film also has a balance of dramatic and comedic tones, which are major since the play has aspects of a Shakespearean romantic comedy.

    #69360

    Prof. Masiello
    Participant

    Christopher,

    The reason I know most of your class would not like the 1936 version is three-fold:

    1) as you pointed out, the actors are too old for the parts

    2) most younger audiences prefer to see color films

    3) the acting style used in the 1936 version is very dated. Picture someone with the back of her hand against her forehead to express distress. It does not play well today.

    I am going to mention these comments for, hopefully, others to see and respond to:

    The 1996 version with Leo DiCaprio is certainly energetic and fun. I do not think the balcony scene works with the young couple falling into the pool of water and somehow the Elizabethan English doesn’t sound quite right with American accents.

    What do you think?

    The most recent version lacks romantic passion (unlike the 1968 version). Though Hailee Steinfeld is normally a very good actress her Juliet’s line readings seem rushed and unemotional.

    Did anyone in our class see and like this version?

    Had we not been experiencing the Covid-19 pandemic, there would have been a new version of West Side Story, directed by Steven Spielberg opening this December to see during our semester, but it has been postponed.

    You mentioned the music when in our 1968 version Romeo and Juliet first meet. It is in fact both diegetic because we see the music source, the young singer, and also non-diegetic as you said, since we hear soaring orchestral music with no apparent source, hence non-diegetic.

    Near the end of our semester, there will be a very enjoyable compilation I will post about sound and music.

    #69417

    Virginia Sanchez
    Participant

    a) Which of the film versions have you already seen?
    I’ve only ever seen the 1996 version of Romeo and Juliet but I don’t believe I even finished the film.

    b) Which of the versions, based on the clips, do you feel works well or does not work? (the 1936 version deserves some attention and you will be grateful it is not the one we watch.)
    In my opinion, the 1968 and 1996 films worked well.

    c) Please explain why you answered pro or con for item b…
    I chose these film adaptions in particular because of how the lines are delivered mostly. The character’s expressions and gestures really deliver the messages within the text. I was able to understand the different terms quicker because of these visual clues and so I was able to enjoy them more.

    d) Which of the versions do you feel captures what the play is about?
    Overall the 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet was both faithful in aesthetics as well as text. It is very challenging to be faithful to your source material without making too many changes, but I believe the 1968 version was able to capture this with the right amount of comedy, tragedy, and love within the film.

    Professor Comments Response:

    I don’t feel any particular way about the pool scene but I do enjoy the Elizabethan English with the American accent, although I’ll admit comical at times. It’s really interesting how that was mixed, probably helped viewers relate more.

    I have not seen the entire recent 2013 film but from clips here and there I do agree there is a lack of passion. Compared to the story it is representing, and its predecessors before, more could have been delivered.

    #69420

    Prof. Masiello
    Participant

    Virginia,

    Thanks for your comments.

    I am going to post a question soon for further discussion about some changes made from play to film, but I am waiting for more students to comment as you did.

    #69427

    zeest
    Participant

    a) Which of the film versions have you already seen?
    Just parts of the 2013 version.

    b) Which of the versions, based on the clips, do you feel works well or does not work? (the 1936 version deserves some attention and you will be grateful it is not the one we watch.)
    The 1968 version i feel like it works and im able to understand the text from it. It portrays the text well.

    c) Please explain why you answered pro or con for item b…
    Its colored and i do prefer colored over b&w (the 1936 version).

    d) Which of the versions do you feel captures what the play is about?
    1968

    #69429

    Jennifer Apuango
    Participant

    a) Which of the film versions have you already seen?
    *I have already seen the 1996 version only.

    b) Which of the versions, based on the clips, do you feel works well or does not work? (the 1936 version deserves some attention and you will be grateful it is not the one we watch.
    * I feel that the 1968 version works better than the others.

    c) Please explain why you answered pro or con for item b…
    * The 1968 version is better because it has a more innocent portrayal and Romeo and Juliet have more romance between each other. It also has similar style and it uses Shakesperean language. Romeo and Juliet kisses are more passionate and they look around the same age as the play which in the other versions they look older.

    d) Which of the versions do you feel captures what the play is about?
    * The 1968 version captures more with the play because is more realistic and accurate. This version I could understand it better and includes passion, poetry, violence, love, and tragedy just like the play.

    #69448

    Prof. Masiello
    Participant

    Yes, Jennifer,

    The version we are discussing was praised for its choice to use younger actors, Whiting was 17 and Hussey was 15 then.

    #69452

    Jabir Alam
    Participant

    a) Which of the film versions have you already seen?
    > I have already seen 1968 version and 1996 version

    b) Which of the versions, based on the clips, do you feel works well or does not work? (the 1936 version deserves some attention and you will be grateful it is not the one we watch.

    > I feel like 1968 works better than 1996 and others,

    c) Please explain why you answered pro or con for item b…

    > in 1996 version the setting was terrible considering it was in modern times, 1968 version story had so much details and realism also showed how love has no boundaries two family rivals become lovers

    d) Which of the versions do you feel captures what the play is about
    > 1968 version captures what the play was about

    #69480

    Prof. Masiello
    Participant

    Jabir,

    I agree with much of what you said, but updating a story to modern times is not necessarily a bad thing. I do feel having American accents speak Elizabethan English sounds odd, but the multicultural casting is interesting and the big corporation buildings being called Montague and Capulet is rather cool.

    Unfortunately, the 1996 version has the love story overwhelmed by all the action-movie scenes.

    #69489

    Anderson Uribe
    Participant

    a) Which of the film versions have you already seen?
    I watched the 1968 film version.

    b) Which of the versions, based on the clips, do you feel works well or does not work? (the 1936 version deserves some attention and you will be grateful it is not the one we watch.)
    I much prefer the 1968 version.

    c) Please explain why you answered pro or con for item b…
    Shakespeare’s writing voice and intent is poetic, layered and descriptive, allowing for images of what is being said to appear in ones’ mind. It is witty and playful. Romeo & Juliet ’68 showed these subtleties. For example, the lovers’ first meeting. We know that they are interested in each other and will come together, an inevitability. However, the subtlety with which Romeo approaches Juliet and delivers his dialogue by the pillar shows that he is careful in his aim to lower her guard. Juliet’s aim is to let him approach her, but again, she is also subtle. Her words and movements show that she is not refusing, but he needs to pass her test. The scene is drawn out, as the actors deliver the lines slowly.

    In contrast, while the language used in the 1997 version is the same, the actors’ line delivery and acting are starkly different. The scene lasts approximately 40 seconds less and focuses much more on their kiss. The scene is not subtle. I know their inevitable lover reunion is done as soon as they start speaking with each other. It is all about the end kiss. So much so that the kiss is done in public, in the view of everyone at the party. Also, the 1997 film borders on satire with its dramatism, especially considering the first clip, with the guns and the cars and the screaming dialogue.

    The other versions are not up to my ideals either. The 1936 film is similarly unrestrained as 1997’s version, as Romeo approaches Juliet nonchalantly to dance with her and no one appears to notice their existence; he almost kisses her mid-dance. The entire scene is even shorter than the others. The 2013 film, an extreme modern Hollywood style film that locks Romeo and Juliet in a room, I wonder who was surprised when they kissed? The dialogue is made pointless, as a result. Nevertheless, the actors do slowly go through the motions of whispering the dialogue.

    A West Side Story is a musical that keeps the premise of tribalism, but it loses the poetry and wit of Shakespeare. I prefer the language and intent are maintained.

    d) Which of the versions do you feel captures what the play is about?
    The play is essentially about how opposing clans create the norm of opposition, regardless of their historical reasons, with two lovers caught between the clans’ struggle for dominance. Ultimately, all the films in the presentation captured these aspects.

    #69492

    Prof. Masiello
    Participant

    Anderson,

    Your detailed replies are so interesting and expressive.

    Romeo and Juliet is a staple of the education system and many students have read it and can identify

    with the youthful characters. A completely different film adaptation I would recommend to students who have some curiosity about

    Shakespeare’s other works is Richard III, a 1995 film which is set in 1930s England.

    Have you read others of Shakespeare’s plays and/or seen their film versions?

    #69496

    Anderson Uribe
    Participant

    Response to November 18, 2020 at 7:13 pm message

    I did not fail to notice that the 1936 film used older actors. However, I do not think that this is the real problem with it… it looked rather bland in the presentation. In any case, I did not read or watch any of Shakespeare’s related works until now. Incredible, I know.

    #69501

    Prof. Masiello
    Participant

    Anderson,

    Was your earlier education, let’s say from grades 9 through 12 other than in New York?

    My understanding is that students in that grade range are usually assigned at least one of the following Shakespearean plays:

    Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and/or Macbeth.

    Nevertheless, your appreciation for his writing, as expressed in your recent post, is duly noted.

    #69536

    Jimcya
    Participant

    This discussion thread is taken from the pdf I emailed to you about work for weeks 9, 10, and 11

    https://www.dropbox.com/sh/5ullhb1h17i2h7s/AAD9bYJ-8_DPZJr92bhODPG5a?dl=0&preview=Romeo+and+Juliet+nondisc.mp4 (65 minutes)

    “Called Romeo and Juliet nondisk,” this compilation shows various interpretations and film versions of this classic play.

    For discussion:

    a) Which of the film versions have you already seen?
    I’ve only seen the 1996 version that’s full of action.

    b) Which of the versions, based on the clips, do you feel works well or does not work? (the 1936 version deserves some attention and you will be grateful it is not the one we watch.)
    The version of 1968.

    c) Please explain why you answered pro or con for item b…
    I feel like it will be a more striking version of “Romeo and Juliet”, and the spark that the characters have can have a greater impact.

    d) Which of the versions do you feel captures what the play is about?
    The 1968 version because it is the most realistic version because of how it is set and because of the costume design.

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