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Modern Allusions Of Shakespeares Romeo And Juliet Film Studies Essay

Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet models a traditional love story for today’s entertainment. Romeo and Juliet chronicles the feuding between the Montague and Capulet families. The intense rivalry between these two families forbade any interactions between their members. Romeo and Juliet were both in attendance at a party and as their eyes met across the ballroom, Romeo and Juliet experienced love at first sight. Their love was deep and forbidden, yet the young lovers secretly married. The continued feuding between their families drove Romeo and Juliet to their untimely deaths. Modern music, TV shows, and movies frequently use allusions from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

Whether the story of the young lovers is portrayed on television, film, Broadway, or in music lyrics, people have always enjoyed the story of Romeo and Juliet. Themes including forbidden love, destiny and time, and the forcefulness of love are influential in the creation of new, up-to-date productions. Perhaps the one theme that no one can forget is the forbidden love of “star-crossed” lovers. Most creations in today’s entertainment depict the illicit love between two young people from rival groups.

During the Renaissance period, attending afternoon plays was a popular pastime. Now that technology plays such a major role in entertainment, our new favorite activity is watching television in the comfort of our own homes. Numerous television shows have made references in their programs to Romeo and Juliet. Popular shows targeted at today’s youth including: Hey Arnold!, Family Matters, Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide, Hannah Montana, and The Brady Bunch, have all showcased Romeo and Juliet as a school play. Typically the television show’s main character earns the role of either Romeo or Juliet, depending on his or her gender. The opposing love interest role is played by a passionate character that appears to have a crush on the main character. By creating these episodes, the writers and producers help remind viewers of the tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet.

Music plays a prominent role in many cultures throughout the world. The lyrics of much of today’s popular music, focuses on love, relationships, and life’s struggles. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet also demonstrates these same topics. The tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet is recounted in the lyrics of artists including, Taylor Swift and the Dire Straits. In the song “Love Story”, Taylor Swift recites the story of Romeo and Juliet throughout her lyrics. She sings, “We were both young when I first saw you/ I close my eyes, And the flashback starts/I'm standing there / On a balcony in summer air/ See the lights, See the party, the ball gowns /I see you make your way through the crowd/ And say hello/ little did I know…”. Taylor Swift grasped the tragic story of love lost and fashioned it into her own song.

“Romeo and Juliet” by the Dire Straits translates Shakespeare’s story into modern slang. The band sings, “Juliet says, ‘Hey, it's Romeo, you nearly gave me a heart attack!,’ He's underneath the window, she's singing, ‘Hey la, my boyfriend's back. You shouldn't come around here singing up to people like that...Anyway, what you gonna do about it?...’” Through their music, the Dire Straits recreate the balcony scene where Romeo and Juliet profess their love for one another. Several music artists have covered this song including, “The Killers”, “The Indigo Girls”, and “Lisa Mitchell”. Today, many artists refer to Romeo and Juliet for lyrical inspiration.

The love story of Romeo and Juliet is frequently portrayed on the big screen and the stage. Cinematic productions such as “The Ringer”, “West Side Story”, “Gnomeo and Juliet”, The Baz “Romeo and Juliet”, and the Zeffereli version of “Romeo and Juliet”, utilize allusions from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. “The Ringer” is a movie about an average, working-class man who in an effort to repay a large debt to his friend, tampers with the Special Olympics and pretends that he is a special needs athlete. The movie showcases special needs athletes working together in their free time to produce their version of Romeo and Juliet for the stage. The play helps to solidify the relationship between the main character and his love interest.

“Gnomeo and Juliet” is a computer animated movie that takes kids on a wild journey through the story of Romeo and Juliet. “Gnomeo and Juliet” is about two rivaling gnome families: the Montagues and the Capulets. The movie takes the general concepts of “Romeo and Juliet” and transforms it into a kid-friendly adventure that retells the basic story of “Romeo and Juliet”.

“West Side Story” is about two gangs: the Puerto Rican “Sharks” and the rich, white “Jets”. The movie is set in New York City in the 1950’s. The “Sharks” and the “Jets” are from different backgrounds which has caused a rivalry to form between the two groups. A love affair between members of each gang comes between the rivalry, as it did in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The forbidden love results in feuding between the gangs. “West Side Story” has also been adapted for the main stage and remains in production both on and off Broadway.

Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet continues to serve as a traditional love story which inspires artists to create and fashion their own unique interpretations through various forms of entertainment. Modern music, TV shows, and movies make frequent allusions to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet as they showcase the themes of forbidden love, destiny and time, and the forcefulness of love.

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