One of the most famous scene in the Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet is the “balcony scene” which occurred in (2.2.1-205). This scene takes place in Capulet’s garden where Romeo stares at Juliet while she is on her balcony confessing her love for Romeo. After he reveals himself to Juliet they share their devotion to each other they share a passionate kiss. After the nurse calls out for Juliet she says goodnight to Romeo and Romeo is on his way. Today I’m comparing the balcony scene for two different Romeo and Juliet movies. One is the 1968 version which starred Leonard Whiting as Romeo and Olivia Hussey as Juliet and directed by Franco Zeffirelli (which I have talked about in a previous blog) and the 1996 version which starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes and was directed by Baz Luhrmann.
The most significant difference between the 1968 version and the 1996 version is the setting of the balcony scene. The setting of the 1968 version more resembles the play because it take place in Verona Italy, in the 1300’s. Furthermore, the balcony scene was in the Capulet’s garden where there was a balcony high up with a long walk way. On other hand, in the 1996 version takes place in Verona Beach in modern day since there was technology that did not exist in the 14th century like elevators, security cameras, and a pool. Rather than in the 1968 version where Romeo was quieter when approaching Juliet, the 1996 version Romeo was clumsy and reckless (I’m also surprised he didn’t get caught).
The way both Romeo and Juliet were positioned was completely different in both movies. In the 1968 version Romeo was hiding in the bushes of the Capulet’s garden and Juliet was moving around waving her arms. After Juliet discovers Romeo he climbs up the tree and they share a few passionate kisses. Then the nurse calls out for Juliet Romeo climbs up the tree a second time to give Juliet one last kiss and them both take their leave. In the 1996 version Romeo attempting to sneak around the Capulet mansion to see Juliet but he make several mistakes. Instead of a balcony in this movie Juliet goes down an elevator and is at her pool. Then Romeo sneaks up behind her and startles her causing them to fall in her pool. They talk for a bit but, as Romeo moves forward Juliet moves backwards. Then they share a kiss that compared to the 1968 version was bland. Finally they exchange some more sentences and they both leave.
Juliet’s Concerns for Romeo
Similarly, in both movies Juliet worries that Romeo will get caught and as a result he will be killed. In the 1968 version Juliet warned Romeo if he were to get caught her kinsman will kill him. Romeo didn’t care what happened to him making him seem very relaxed. In the 1996 version they were in a constant fear of being caught since there was a security camera at the pool and a security guard watching all cameras 24/7. He was almost caught at one point but he held his breath underwater and evaded the guard.
In conclusion, both versions of Romeo and Juliet portrayed the balcony scene in two different ways. If I had to pick a favourite it would probably be the 1968 version because it resembles the original play written by Shakespeare a lot more than the 1996 version and it better represented the whole idea of the balcony scene compared to the 1996 version. The 1996 version balcony scene had too many unnecessary moments such as, Romeo entrance being clumsy and made a significant amount of noise. Overall, Zeffirelli did a better job of portraying the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet than Luhrmann did.
I found that Susan Wloszczyna’s criticism of the balcony scene on the 2013 version of Romeo and Juliet was a little harsh. She claimed that its “the movies greatest disappointment,” and i don’t agree with most of what she said.I believe the acting was well done the music fit the scene, and the setting was beautiful. I was appalled when she said “if you can’t do the balcony scene right, then why even do Romeo and Juliet.” She basically said that the balcony scene is the biggest and the most important part of the play and the other scenes are unnecessary which i certainly don’t agree with at all. There are other scenes and parts that are just as important as the balcony scene like the Queen Mab speech, Romeo and Juliet’s first encounter, and the thumb biting incident. The only thing about Wloszczyna’s article i agree with was the positioning. The positioning was sloppy and did not fit with what the scene intended to be in the play. Comparing the 2013 to the 1996 the 1996 version was a lot worse. The acting was dull, the setting was irrelevant and the music was atrocious. In the end the 2013 version balcony scene was done well with some minor flaws.
Ms. Bellon’s Classroom,. ‘Romeo And Juliet: Act II, Prologue Through Scene Ii – The Balcony Scene’. N.p., 2015. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.
Scalar.usc.edu,. ‘Balcony Scene Setting Changes’. N.p., 2015. Web. 21 Apr. 2015