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Romeo and Juliet movies and play comparison

Updated on April 20, 2013

A detailed comparison of the original play, 1968 movie and 1996 movie

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare is a loved classic. Over the years it has been remade into movies, ballets and children's books. This article will compare and contrast between the play itself and two famous "Romeo and Juliet" movies; the "old" version (1968) and the "newer" version (1996).

Make sure to vote on your favorite version on the bottom of this page.

The "old" version (1968) - Setting: Verona, Italy, Time: renaissance

Beautiful film made version of the classic love story.

Attractive actors/actresses, colorful and extraordinary costumes, not boring, good acting, very close to original play except for a couple differences.

  1. Father not as angry or mean as described.
  2. Donkey instead of mule.
  3. The friar leaves but in the book he doesn't.
  4. Balthazar sees Juliet being buried and runs to tell Romeo by horse. He passes the friar on the donkey.
  5. No mention of the apothecary for Romeo. Just goes straight to tomb.
  6. Paris isn't in the tomb.
  7. In the book the Friar tells what happened to the two star crossed lover to the police. In the movie he knows+epilougue by prince.
  8. No gold statue.

Romeo and Juliet 1968 trailer

Romeo and Juliet 1968 version

The New movie (1996) - Setting: Verona Beach, California, Time: modern times

An attempt to show that this "timeless love story" can take place anywhere, anytime, and still stay true, beautiful and not lose its meaning.

Use of special effects:

Newer music, filming differently; always moving (close-ups and far), "slow motion" to make it dramatic, "roiling storm", and colorful. The lead actors are famous and attractive.

Many, many differences in New movie: - Most important differences:

  1. Setting and time.
  2. Families are mafia "gangs", empires and wealthy.
  3. The balcony scene is not on the balcony but in the pool.
  4. Very modern, colorful, a lot of fighting.
  5. The ending is very important and different; Juliet is still under the drug, Romeo sees her "dead", kisses her, starts to drink poison, Juliet wakes up-sees him and does nothing. After he drinks he sees her wakeup and is shocked. She sees he drank poison, no one there, friar or Paris. There is a gun on her bed, shoots her self. Broadcast again; but there is no peace, no gold statue! Because mafia gangs hold grudges.

Romeo and Juliet 1996 trailer

Romeo and juliet 1996

Original play- William Shakespeare - Setting: Italy, Verona, Time: 'timeless' but he lived in the renaissance.

Breathtaking, play of Shakespeare's star crossed lovers who take their own lives at the end.

Uses literary terms to dramatize it. These literary devices/techniques make the story more sophisticated, and dramatic.

  1. Sonnet-14 lined poem, rhyming scheme, rhyming couplets. Shakespeare uses the sonnets to introduce acts.
  2. Dramatic Irony- The circumstances that the audience knows of, that the characters don't. E.g. - in R and J we know Juliet isn't really dead but Romeo doesn't.
  3. Tragic flaw-Within the characters, when the audience spots the flaw we know it will cause the tragedy. We assume that the tragedy in R and J will occur because of the feud between the Capulet's and Montague's but it is brought by the misunderstanding.
  4. Metaphors- The play is full of them! Famous example: "oh happy dagger, this is thy sheath". Juliet compares her body to the sheath which covers the dagger. The dagger will lie in her body forever and her body will cover it.

    e.g. 2- pg. 112.

  5. Foreshadowing- (foreboding doom) the character predict their futures, here something bad that will happen to them. E.g. - Before Romeo has entered Capulet ball but feels something will take him to his grave.

Romeo and Juliet original play

Similarities between the 2 movies and the play:

1. They all start off with a prologue.

2. The story is basically the same, the main plotline is kept.

3. All the versions use Shakespearian language.

I like the original play best.

1. It is the classic; his writing is beautiful, true and captivating.Beatiful 1600 English which is full of literary devices.

2. Shakespeare's characters barely have descriptions, leaves the reader room to imagine the way he pictures the characters and story. While the movie spoon feeds to you how the director interpreted it.

3. The book/play is always better than the movie. Movies have to change things to make the script more interesting.

What about you?

What's your opinion?

Which version of romeo and juliet do you like best?

See results

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    • profile image

      Prerna1688 4 years ago

      Very informative lens- thanks

    • TLStahling profile image

      TL Stahling 4 years ago from US

      The one with Leo DiCaprio had fantastic production value. My favorite is West Side Story - Romeo and Juliet as the Sharks and the Jets. :-)

    • Iftikhar-Hussain profile image

      Iftikhar-Hussain 4 years ago

      good lens .. I like it :)

    • Rosetta Slone profile image

      Rosetta Slone 4 years ago from Under a coconut tree

      This was really interesting, thanks!