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Speaking Without Words: Luhrmann's Adaptation of Romeo and Juliet

Speaking Without Words: Luhrmann's Adaptation of Romeo and Juliet <p>abstract:</p><p>In an assessment of Baz Luhrmann&apos;s 1996 film, <i>William Shakespeare&apos;s Romeo + Juliet</i>, this article takes up the question of what makes a film adaptation of Shakespeare successful. The film has been criticized for its divergence from the letter of Shakespeare&apos;s text and its apparent lack of adherence to the structure of the play. However, I argue that these alterations enable Luhrmann to transfer the key themes of <i>Romeo and Juliet</i> into a uniquely cinematic form. Drawing on Richard Fry&apos;s interpretation of the Shakespearean text, I focus on the play&apos;s theme of the inevitable inadequacy of language to convey emotion and meaning. By deconstructing the play&apos;s text and employing cinematic conventions, Luhrmann offers the viewer a visual experience of emotions that were initially meant to be represented verbally on the stage. Transferring the language of Shakespeare&apos;s play into the visual and thereby offering the viewer a genuinely human approach to the emotions conveyed within the play seems to imply the inadequacy of language. This technique creates a stark contrast with the spoken language that remains in the film. By that, Luhrmann seems to underscore Shakespeare&apos;s point about the inadequacy of language and enables viewers to experience the Shakespearean verse anew.</p> http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Interdisciplinary Literary Studies Penn State University Press

Speaking Without Words: Luhrmann&apos;s Adaptation of Romeo and Juliet

Interdisciplinary Literary Studies , Volume 21 (4) – Jan 29, 2020

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Publisher
Penn State University Press
Copyright
Copyright © The Pennsylvania State University.
ISSN
2161-427X

Abstract

<p>abstract:</p><p>In an assessment of Baz Luhrmann&apos;s 1996 film, <i>William Shakespeare&apos;s Romeo + Juliet</i>, this article takes up the question of what makes a film adaptation of Shakespeare successful. The film has been criticized for its divergence from the letter of Shakespeare&apos;s text and its apparent lack of adherence to the structure of the play. However, I argue that these alterations enable Luhrmann to transfer the key themes of <i>Romeo and Juliet</i> into a uniquely cinematic form. Drawing on Richard Fry&apos;s interpretation of the Shakespearean text, I focus on the play&apos;s theme of the inevitable inadequacy of language to convey emotion and meaning. By deconstructing the play&apos;s text and employing cinematic conventions, Luhrmann offers the viewer a visual experience of emotions that were initially meant to be represented verbally on the stage. Transferring the language of Shakespeare&apos;s play into the visual and thereby offering the viewer a genuinely human approach to the emotions conveyed within the play seems to imply the inadequacy of language. This technique creates a stark contrast with the spoken language that remains in the film. By that, Luhrmann seems to underscore Shakespeare&apos;s point about the inadequacy of language and enables viewers to experience the Shakespearean verse anew.</p>

Journal

Interdisciplinary Literary StudiesPenn State University Press

Published: Jan 29, 2020

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