Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Romeo and Juliet [Play + Movie]

Let’s Read Play’s theme for this month is tragedy, and I have picked one of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies of all time: Romeo and Juliet. Although I‘m not a fan of romance story, least of all teenagers romances, I braced myself to give a try on this particular play. Well, I must say that my instinct has never failed me before, and it doesn’t this time also. It turns out that I could not enjoy this play, and it didn’t move me like Julius Caesar did me, for instance.

First of all, I am annoyed by the harsh—and sometimes very vulgar too—humour Shakespeare put in this play. I know that somehow it is his style, but I think it has come at an annoying point this time. Maybe it’s because I have been expecting ‘Romeo and Juliet’ comes as a romantic yet tragic love story, that there would be flowery sentences and paragraphs. They do appear of course, but especially in the beginning, there are also harassing comments or insults from Romeo and Mercutio around sexual topics. And as this has happened in the very early Act, it diminished my mood (and respect) to read the rest.

What interesting me is the eternal hostility of two Houses in Verona: Montague and Capulet. The play can portray very well how each of the families took their hostility; how the youngsters especially, were eager to ignite strife whenever they met the enemies. It is in the situation that Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet found themselves in love. And apparently, the hostility of the two families could only be resolved by the two teenager’s sacrifice. It’s quite ironic, considering that these two youngsters were merely thinking about their passionate love, but from them the adults would have to learn much about the real meaning of ‘love’.

Considering that this is about teenagers’ love, the story is as ridiculous as you could have expected, but I think the plot is interesting; how the mistiming and misunderstanding caused the tragedy. It’s only proving how love can sometimes be blind for naïve (or foolish?) people. Three stars for this tragic play—which did not really moved me, honestly…


Right after finishing the play, I jumped to the movie adaptation. I picked Baz Luhrmann’s version, partly because that’s the only one I had (:D), and partly because I was curious to see the earlier collaboration of Baz Luhrmann and Leonardo diCaprio (before The Great Gatsby).

I’ve already known that the movie would be in modern settings, before I watched it, so I was a bit surprised to see that Luhrmann only alter the settings, but not the dialogues! The dialogues were really picked from the original play, and that makes the whole movie is really unique. Listening to those punk boys speak in Shakespearean language was weird but interesting.

Here Leonardo diCaprio is in his earliest career, and this movie shows distinctly the difference with his present acting. However, I think he plays Romeo quite convincingly as the waverer and sentimental young man. The rest of the stars are not very prominent, except for Harold Perrineau, Jr who plays as Mercutio, who is the most interesting character in this movie.

One of my favorite scenes is Juliet’s tomb—which in this case doesn’t look at all like a tomb. It is very eloquent and glamour (typical Baz Luhrmann, of course), and the scene of Romeo and Juliet in their last agony is superb! Only while watching Romeo drinks the poison not knowingly that Juliet is stirring beside him, and Romeo’s expression when he knows the truth, that I am really moved. So in this case, for me, the movie has enlightened the play rather than the other way round. 7 to 10 is my final rating for this adaptation.


I read the ebook version from Feedbooks dot com

This book is counted for:

May theme of Let’s Read Plays: Shakespeare’s tragedy

I watched the movie for Books Into Movies Monthly Meme #6


  1. My favorite adaptation is Franco Zeffirelli's, mainly because of the cast - they are not grown-up and well-known actors there, and they play so sincerely! As for the play, I too find the whole story a bit absurd, but I love it anyway, mostly for the language. Remember the passage about Queen Mab? Well, my little brother hates everything in verses and everything classical, but when I read it to him, he grabbed the play right away and read it and avoided problems in literature class. And there are many other powerful scenes there. I just hope that now as my exams are nearly finished I'll return to a normal play reading schedule and also revisit this play :)

    1. Yes, the language is quite beautiful, especially farther near the end. Maybe I just couldn't move on from the earle Acts....

      Good luck with your exams...we miss you here at #LRP! ^__^

  2. Sorry, did I accidentally press enter? If so, please delete my previous comment.

    I truly enjoy the play mainly becaues of the characters. (Except Mercutio, of course, he's just too rude.) I love Juliet. She has self-control and she is brave enough to make her own decision. I also love Capulet, since he's actually a very good father, if you look closely at it. The language is so beautiful. Remember when the young lovers shared a sonnet together?

    Of course, their love story can't be too smart. Remember that Juliet is 13. So, well, just imagine junior high school kids hanging out together. You'll find a lot of Romeo, Juliet, Mercutio, and Benvolio there.

    By the way, I love Benvolio.

    1. No, you didn't accidentally press anything :D
      I don't think Capulet is a good father, he's ready to dump Juliet if she refused to be married to Paris, right? I think Capulet is ambitious, and marriage was one way to strengthen family level at that time.

      Juliet is only 13, but at that time girls of 12-13 has become wives, so I think she was perhaps even more adult than kids nowadays. It's Romeo that annoyed me most, he's 17, right? But anyway, he's just a sentimental man, what else can you expect from him? LOL...

  3. I have no idea why they made this movie modern with a touch of ancient stuff here and there, for me it's confusing. Maybe with bringing pop culture it would interest young audience too? But after all the movie is quite good.


What do you think?