Thursday, August 27, 2015

Which Adaptation is Right for You?- Romeo and Juliet

It's always exciting to finish a book you've been meaning to read forever just so you can watch the adaptations! But sometimes the adaptation options can be overwhelming. So, with this series I'm hoping I will be able to assist in finding the right adaptation for you, whether you have read the book or not. 

Previous Which Adaptation is Right For You:
Pride and Prejudice

Romeo and Juliet is my favorite Shakespeare play. I know that's not a very out-of-the-box answer, but it is true. I love the drama and the more political themes that can be found in the play. I have read the play and seen the adaptations so many times that I have most of the play memorized. Therefore, I'm a little hard to please when it comes to adaptations, but I've got a few to recommend to you, and I hope to help you find the one that is right for you. 

Romeo and Juliet (1968)  
Directed by: Franco Zeffirelli 
Romeo: Leonard Whiting
Juliet: Olivia Hussey
Run Time: 138 minutes
I remember watching this in black and white, but it look like it has sense been redone in color.

Watch the original trailer here

This is the first adaptation of R&J that I watched. I remember renting it from the library and watching it with my mom. I was a freshman in high school and had just read the play in school for the first time. This one is a little dated, but it's a great and faithful adaptation of the play. 

Both Romeo and Juliet are beautiful; the tight pants and puffy shirts are ridiculous (as they should be), and the teen angst is intense. This adaptation was very popular when it was released because it was one of the first film adaptation to use actors close to the real ages of the characters.

I have really fond memories of watching this movie, and I would really love to watch it again, but this might not be the best version to start with if you are unfamiliar with Shakespeare or this play. I could see how those who are not already Shakespeare fans could find this version a little boring and outdated, but if you are a fan of R&J and Shakespeare, I highly recommend it.

The balcony scence

Act V

Juliet and her Romeo 

Romeo and Juliet (1996)
Directed by: Baz Luhrman
Romeo: Leonardo DiCaprio <3 <3
Juliet: Clare Danes
Paris: Paul Rudd
Run Time: 120 minutes
Watch the trailer here

This is one of my favorite movies of all-time, so it's obviously my favorite R&J adaptation. I am in love with Leo (like for real, marry me already) so that gives this adaptation bonus points, but I really love the over-the-top and outrageous style of this movie. Luhrman mixes Shakespeare's original script with modern (well 90's) California beach. There are gun fights, Romeo and his buds play pool, and a church choir sings Prince while Leonardo DiCaprio runs around in an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt. What more could you ask for?

Clare Danes and Leo have great chemistry, and Paul Rudd comes out of left-field to be the perfect, dorky and undesirable Paris. I love all of the religious imagery and intense colors that are in this movie; it is such a visual experience. It's so modern but faithful to the original play, and the characters are extremely developed and the acting is phenomenal. It can be a little jarring to hear Elizabethan English with guns and cars, but it's such a cool idea, and Lurmen pulls it off greatly! The drama of the play is captured really well, as well as the emotion and infamous lines. I recommend watching the trailer to see if it's your taste before watching the movie. (But really it has Leo in it, so trust me, it's your style)

If you are a Shakespeare newbie, or aren't usually a fan, you may enjoy this one because it's not as "boring" as the more traditional adaptations. I promise it is so different from anything you have ever seen before! But it does seem to divide people between love and hate.

The first Kiss 

The Ball 

This aquarium scene is one of my favorite scenes of all time 

If these pictures don't convince to watch this version, I don't know what will. 

Rome and Juliet (2013) 
Directed by: Carlo Caelei (has also directed Dowton Abbey)
Romeo: Douglas Booth
Juliet: Hailee Stienfield
Tybalt: Ed Westwick
Run time: 118 minutes

Watch the trailer here

This is the latest adaptation of R&J I have watched, and I must say I am not all that impressed. I will say that this Juliet is the closest in age to the real Juliet I have ever seen cast in a movie (Juliet in the play is thirteen, the actress is fourteen) so that was really cool to see. The scenery is also quite beautiful, but other than that, the film seems a little lackluster. The movie keeps the plot of the original play, but not the dialogue, which is a big check in the negative column for me because I am very attached to the original play, and as I was watching, I was cringing every time a line was changed or left out. I also felt that the political themes were a little washed out and lost in this version, while the romance took the front seat.

The bed scene was my favorite scene of the movie, but the changes were just too much  and too unnecessary for me. So, if you do watch this version, be warned of these changes. I still enjoyed this movie, but not nearly as much as the first two on this list!


The death scene 


First Time Watchers: Romeo and Juliet (1996) or (1968) 
Those Who Enjoy Looking at Beautiful Men: Romeo and Juliet (1996)
R&J and Shakespeare Lovers: Romeo and Juliet (1968)
Casual Shakespeare Consumers: Rome and Juliet (2013)

I would love to hear which of these you have seen, which is your favorite, or if you have any other versions for me to add to my list. I would love to see this play preformed live someday, so I could add it to my list of adaptations I have seen!
"For never was a story of more woe, than this of Juliet and her Romeo." 


  1. Great post, Mallory! I'm not the biggest fan of Romeo and Juliet (I had to study it way too many times in school and while I was at uni) but it's certainly an entertaining play if nothing else!

    I haven't seen the most recent adaptation, and now that I know they've tweaked the language I don't think I want to, but I have seen the other two. I like both of them, but I do particularly love Baz Luhrman's adaptation - I think his film is perfect for people who feel intimidated by Shakespeare, because his modern setting helps you to understand the language. It's genius!

    If you're a Shakespeare fan, I also recommend checking out the Romeo x Juliet anime. It blends a lot of Shakespearean characters and elements (like cross-dressing and lost princesses) together, and it's a surprisingly good anime!

    1. Yes the Baz Luhrman is perfect for those that are skeptical about Shakespeare. It's the perfect amount of over-the-top-ness. I would skip the 2013 adaptation too! I wasn't all that impressed with it.
      Thanks for the recommendation, I will have to check that out!
      Thanks for stopping by Jess!

  2. I've seen the first two adaptations and loved both of them. It's been a long time since I watched either. I saw the 1968 version when I was 12 maybe, in the theater (that tells you how old I am). Such a powerful movie and I don't think I even knew the story at that time. The Leo/Clare version was in my daughter's time. She was 14 that year and I remember watching it with her. Clare Danes had done that TV show that all the teenagers loved. And the music. It was fun.

    1. I think it's so cool that the Leo/Clare version got "the kids" into Romeo and Juliet.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Even though I'm not a R&J fan (at all), I liked the 1996 one! <3

    1. Leo makes the entire movie for me! He was born to be Romeo!
      Thanks for stopping by!