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Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet is a famous play by William Shakespeare. The story originates through several retellings from a 1476 story of Mariotto and Gianozza by Masuccio Salernitano.

Romeo and Juliet was first performed on January 29, 1595.

Table of contents
1 Story
2 Adaptations
3 External links


Romeo and Juliet is the story of Romeo Montague (Romeo Montecchi) and Juliet Capulet (Giulietta Capuleti), two children of warring families in Verona, Italy, who fall in love in contradiction to the rivalries of their relatives. The two seek to defy their parents and marry, perhaps bringing the two families to peace with each other, but this ultimately fails and they both commit suicide, each believing the other is already dead.

The play, along with many others by Shakespeare, is almost entirely written in iambic pentameter.

This is an early play by William Shakespeare and while it is often classified as a tragedy it does not bear the hallmarks of the 'great tragedies' like Hamlet and Macbeth. Romeo and Juliet are not flawed individuals, indeed much of their misfortune comes from the actions of others or from accident. It has been noted that the plot of Romeo and Juliet is more that of a farce or comedy of errors than a tragedy, except that it lacks the vital last-minute save and everyone dies at the end instead of living happily ever after.



The story was converted into the opera Romeo et Juliette by Charles François Gounod in 1867 with a libretto written by Jules Barbier and Michel Carrè.

It was also the subject of Vincenzo Bellini's opera I Capuletti ed i Montecchi.


Several ballet adaptations of the story have been made, the first recorded in the 18th century. The best known feature music by Sergei Prokofiev, and a variety of choreographers have used this music. The first version featuring Prokofiev's music was performed in 1938.


The musical West Side Story, also made into a film, is based on Romeo and Juliet but updates the story to mid-20th century New York City and the warring families to ethnic gangs.

Movie versions

Thera have been over forty movie versions of the tale, with the first in 1900. Some of the more notable adaptations include:

;1936 - Romeo and Juliet, produced by Irving Thalberg

The 1936 screen version was one of the more notable. Irving Thalberg spared no expense, and showcased his wife, Norma Shearer, in the lead role. Romeo was played by Leslie Howard, John Barrymore was Mercutio, and Andy Devine was Peter, the servant to Juliet's nurse.
Academy Awards nominations:
Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Basil Rathbone - as Tybalt
Best Actress - Norma Shearer
Best Art Direction - Cedric Gibbons, Fredric Hope and Edwin B. Willis

;1968 - Romeo and Juliet, directed by Franco Zeffirelli
Filmed in Italy, the casting of a young Olivia Hussey as Juliet has been considered as truly inspired. It won Oscarss for best cinematography and best costume design, and was nominated for Best Director. It also starred Leonard Whiting as Romeo - he was seen as 'the next big thing' in film at the time, but his career did not match up to expectations.

;1996 - Romeo + Juliet, directed by Baz Luhrmann
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in the title roles, Luhrmann gave the famous tale a modern setting.
At the Berlin International Film Festival 1997, it won:
  • Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio)
Alfred Bauer Prize
Academy Awards 1996 nominations:
  • Best Art Direction (Catherine Martin)
Set Decoration (Brigitte Broch)

External links