Thematic DevelopmentOne central theme of Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare, 1994), is the constant revolution around the destruction that love brings. In contemplating the events of the play, I am reminded of something that Oscar Wilde is famous for saying: “Behind every beautiful thing there is something tragic” (Wilde, 2008). Behind Romeo and Juliet’s love is the never ending feud between the Montagues and Capulets. Behind their love is disappointment of the adoring Paris and the unlucky Rosaline. The tone is weighted with the death of friends and the revenge of enemies. And, of course, it is their love for one another that brings them to end their own lives. The story of the two lovers is contextualized in the long-time grudge between the families. It is the prideful love of their own families that, in part, creates this division to begin with

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Script to Screen
Baz Luhrmann’s screen adaptation, Romeo + Juliet, retains Shakespeare’s iconic language and timeless tragedy in a modern setting (Luhrmann, 1996). One of the triumphs of the film is its colorful rendition of the violence that Shakespeare imagined. This really helps the destructiveness of love, so inherent in the play, come to life. Luhrmann’s depiction of the violent encounters makes the ultimate irony even more stark. The climax of the work is reimagined in an action-packed, ammunition-flying finale. The delivery of Shakespeare’s timeless lines are dramatized here in a way that on-set violence simply does not lend itself to. While comedy and romanticism are important elements of theme that are certainly brought out, it is Luhrmann’s ability to include unprecedented action to the story that gives it a unique impact. For today’s audiences, this drama is necessary. With so much violence and gore on the big screen, making Shakespeare appear just as brutal is likely helping modern audiences appreciate his work.

  • Luhrmann, B. Romeo + Juliet. (1996).
  • Shakespeare, W. Romeo And Juliet. (1994). 1st ed. Cambridge: Chadwyck-Healey.
  • Wilde, O. The Picture Of Dorian Gray. (2008). 1st ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.