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Balcony Scene Smackdown

Who does it best?

Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey in Franco Zefirelli's 1968 film:

Leslie Howard and Norma Shearer in George Cukor's 1936 version:

Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev in a 1966 performance of the balcony scene from Sergei Prokofiev's ballet (1935-36):

(Alas, Fox has blocked Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes's performance from Baz Luhrmann's 1996 film.)

For a smackdown between actors speaking Hamlet's "To be or not to be" soliloquy, click here.


Brett Baird said…
I can't help to choose the modern Romeo + Juliet scene. It is brilliant how the director uses modern images and scenes with old Shakespeare dialogue.
HannahJasmine said…
I'm going to have to side with Brett, I have a definite soft spot in my heart for Romeo + Juliet. Their version of this seen just surpasses all others in my mind.
Egates said…
I agree with both Brett and Hannah. The pool kiss in Romeo + Juliet is one of the best scenes in any Shakespeare adaptation in my opinion. It is just so romantic and the old English dialogue just adds to that.
Jesus Quiroz said…
I have to say i agree with the modern Shakespeare as well but i do like Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev version of it very unique unlike the others. But the modern days is a bit more relate able to the audience now i days even though the modern one is a bit cheesy in some parts of the movie.
Charlie Brennan said…
I also agree with the above comments. The modern version just relates back to us better than all the others. The way you can take any Shakespeare play and put it in any time period is brilliant. And the classic "pool scene" is part of many movies and for the director to incorporate it into romeo and juliet, one of the most known plays of all time, is fabulous.
aocampo4 said…
Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev in a 1966 performance of the balcony scene is beautiful because even though they don't speak a word their movements tell the story about the lovers. Also, I do like Rome + Juliet balcony scene because it so different from all the others.
Raycap said…
After the first time I read Romeo and Juliet, I watched the 1968 film. I recall my English teacher at the time saying that she really didn't like DiCaprio film because it changed a lot of the story with its anachronism. Now that I am older and understand that the 1998 version was written this way with a purpose in mind, I still tend to agree with my old English teacher. With the stance the newer film takes on the story line (trying to make it almost parody-esque), it changes the movie so much, you can almost forget that it is a Shakespearean play. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, and it's great if you are looking for a movie just for entertainment, but I feel like the 1968 film does the best at keeping the focus on the plot of the story, rather than Hollywood entertainment.
Aaron Suthers said…
Like many other before me, nothing beats out R & J. Not many other films have used modern images and concepts and transformed them back to Shakespeare's time using the original text and wordplay. Although the scene takes place in an almost medieval setting with the castle, the fact that they are wearing modern day clothes, there's a security guard and a pool... It just creates a very cliche yet original experience for the viewer.
Liz Curtis said…
I’m really surprised that no one has chosen Nureyev’s version as their favorite. I very much enjoy the modern version but agree that the nuances change the story (purposefully but nonetheless) and I do not like the actors in either other version. I don’t find Norma Shearer believable as Juliet, nor Leonard Whiting as Romeo. The ballet version, however, I find incredibly passionate, just the way I imagine the balcony scene out to be.
Sable V said…
It’s hard for me to pick which version of the balcony scene that I like the best because I think each one is so different and is trying to convey different aspects of the famous scene. Personally I would have to pick Luhrmann’s version as the more I watch it, the more it grows on me. The first time I saw both this version and Zefirelli’s interpretation was in my freshman high school english class and we had to compare the two scene and pick which one we liked the best. I remember that it was obvious that my teacher much preferred Zefirelli’s as well as the majority of the class. The main reason it seemed was that Zefirelli stayed much more true to the original play itself with the dialogue and stage directions while Luhrmann’s scene took a little bit more liberties. I like the fact that Luhrmann was able to take a famous and well known scene and make it a little bit different and new to viewers. I think it heightens the anxiety and suspense of the moment with the guards patrolling the pool and watching the security cameras, making Romeo and Juliet’s meeting even more prone to getting caught. However one of the main reasons that I do tend to prefer Zefirelli’s is that there is a point where Juliet exits the scene, presumably to talk with her nurse and this never happens in Luhrmann’s film. One of the reasons that I wish this was included is because I have always liked Juliet’s character. I think that Shakespeare creates her as a strong female character that is cautious about falling in love too fast with Romeo, in fact many times in her speech she expresses her wish to have hidden her feelings from him longer, and that she takes no joy in their contract of love because it is “too rash, too sudden”. Right after she says this is when Juliet takes her leave momentarily of the scene, and then when she remerges is when she proposes if Romeo’s intentions are honorable that they be married. I always preferred the idea that while she was off screen her nurse made some comment to her that would make her all of a sudden want to rush into her relationship with Romeo, maybe something to do with Paris. It seems inconsistent that her character, who had previously been shown as witty, intelligent, and rational suddenly decides to rush into a marriage. In Luhrmann’s film Juliet never leaves and just suddenly suggests the idea to him, taking away the idea that maybe some other factor was in play for her hasty proposal. Overall, Luhrmann’s version still greatly appeals to me but I do think each version has their own merits.
Greg Lopez said…
I agree with most people before me that the newer version was too "new." I think most younger people would tend to enjoy the new one more if they haven't seen any other version. And obviously its a lot easier to follow than the older films so even after seeing the first two, Luhrmann's will always be the easiest to fully comprehend in my opinion. I think that Luhrmann put a great twist on Shakespeares play,and enjoyed watching him incorporate things from the play like the gun with "sword" written on it as he is told to pull out his sword. In my opinion, the best film was the 1968 film.
Lauren Nguetta said…
In my opinion, the 1997 version of Rome+Juliet is the best version of the balcony scene. I felt that this version captured the youth and naiveness of both Romeo and Juliet. I enjoyed the older versions balcony scenes, but I felt that they made the moment seem too forced and formal. Romeo and Juliet were both young and lusted for one another and I felt that the pool scene showed that and felt very natural.
Anonymous said…
Although I don't entirely enjoy the whole 1997 film of Romeo and Juliet, I will say the balcony scene is my favorite. This scene shows the interaction as very childlike and innocent filled with much love and longing.The two dance among the water with one another like they have no care in the world, except being with each other. It seems romantic and incorporating the water seems to be very symbolic. If water is to symbolize rebirth and something new, one could argue they are finding each other, it is something new and re-energizing. Thank you for posting all of the videos, what an awesome thing to watch!
Riccardo Masoni said…
I would Have to agree with Sable V, that it is very hard to choose which of the films captured the scene the best because of the differences in the films. However I would have to say that my favorite version would have to be Zeffirelli's 1968 version. I chose this version because I love thee classical feel that it has in the tone of the play. Along with that I like how the actors who played the parts in this version were actually close to the ages of the characters in the play.
I would have to say that Zeferelli's Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting took it for me. They both just look so innocent and in love. They also just look confused which they should be because its young love and they have no idea what they are doing. It has always been one of my favorite films so im going to always have to vote for it. I do love how Romeo + Juliet is in a pool! It's cute and romantic.
Mary Larson said…
My favorite of all of the scenes was the most recent Romeo and Juliet scene. I think I enjoyed this one most because it is something I am used to looking at and I do not get bored. Also, I love Leonardo DiCaprio so that made it more interesting for me to watch.
I have to agree with Brett and Hannah as well, Leonardo DeCaprio and Clarie Danes simply do the scene so stunning it's unreal. Out of all of Shakespeare's scenes, the balcony one is my absolute favorite and both of the actors preform it with such romance and grace, the other actors don't even have a chance. Baz Luhrmann does a fantastic job filming with modern technology and he really brought the scene to life.
Francesco Grillo said…
Even with my dislike for the modern Romeo and Juliet compared with the more traditional stories, i would still have to say that the pool scene was a perfect way to play out their roles. It makes it easy to relate to and see the romanticism play out so casually. I actually forgot for a split second that the story was made hundreds of years ago.
I love DiCaprio/Claire Danes and the 1968 Leonard Whiting/Olivia Hussey versions. Both have incredible tenderness and love.

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