Comparing Zeffirelli's Death Scene to Shakespeare's Play

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SWBAT analyze the representation of a key scene in two different artistic mediums, including what is emphasized or absent in each treatment, by comparing the death scene of Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet to the text of the play.

Big Idea

Comparing this film to the play helps us understand the structure and theme in deeper ways.

Getting Started

5 minutes

We are going to watch the end of the Zeffirelli Romeo and Juliet today. As they watch, students will take note of the similarities and differences between the movie and the text, so at the beginning of class, I will ask student to make a Venn Diagram in their notebooks and label it accordingly. 

Watch and Learn

50 minutes

The end of this film is great and it gives students a sense of setting, especially the tomb. The concept of such a large vault is beyond most students, so when they watch Romeo as he speaks to Tybalt's dead body, it all comes together. The scenes included are straight from the text, but the director did cut a few scenes. The most obvious exclusion is Paris' visit to Juliet's grave and his subsequent fight with Romeo. Students usually notice right away that Paris has been cut, probably because their reactions toward him often change in the last scene when he vowed to visit the tomb nightly. Nonetheless, there is plenty of information to include on their Venn diagram (RL.9-10.7). Here are two examples: Venn 1 and Venn 2.


The Venn diagrams may help me more than they help the students. I like to quickly look over their notes after we watch to see what students truly understood before watching. Both the similarities and the differences will illustrate the connections they make between the two sources. The movie certainly provides a greater understanding, which is why I devote class time for it, but I also want to know how much they understood from the text alone. 

Thoughts on the Film

5 minutes

We should have a few minutes at the end of class to briefly discuss our reactions to this movie (SL.9-10.1). I specifically asked students what they understood more after watching the final scene. Take a look at a couple of responses: Example 1 and Example 2


For homework, students will work on their argument essays, which are due at the end of the week.