Comparing Shakespeare's Text to Baz Luhrmann's Film

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SWBAT collect evidence to compare the representation of Romeo and Juliet in Baz Luhrmann's production to the original Shakespearean tragedy

Big Idea

Collecting evidence like a critic: students chart comparisons between Baz Luhrmann and William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

Do Now: Creating a T Chart

2 minutes

From the beginning of this unit, my students have been asking to watch a movie version of Romeo and Juliet. We haven't watched any full length movies this year because I have been trying to get them to accept the fact that we don't need to watch a movie in class unless there is a specific purpose for watching it. I am surprising my students for the next two days by allowing them to critically view Baz Luhrmann's production of Romeo and Juliet in order to compare it to Shakespeare's text. I selected this version because it has been appropriately modernized to the 1990's, but the original language has been retained.

For the "Do Now" I will have my students create a T chart of evidence (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1) from both texts. I am having students create the T chart in order to compare Baz Luhrmann's representation of scenes, characters, etc. with Shakespeare's representation of them (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.7). The chart will provide students with discussion points that we can use after we finish the film. At this point, they will have only read Acts I through III, so I will be careful not to show them any parts of the film beyond that point. This is important because I want them to experience reading BEFORE the film so that they don't think we are substituting the film for finishing the play.

Viewing Baz Luhrman's Romeo and Juliet

70 minutes

During this part of the class, students will critically view the film while also taking notes on their Romeo and Juliet T Charts that note differences between Shakespeare's version and Baz Luhrman's production (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1). Although they will be watching the film, I will be giving them gentle nudges to remind them to track differences throughout. For example, at the beginning of the film, Benvolio and Tybalt begin the brawl at a gas station.  On the other hand, Shakespeare's play begins with an argument between Gregory and Sampson, two  Montague servants, and Abram and Tybalt from the Capulet family.  In the play, they are fighting with swords; in the film they are fighting with guns called swords. I am hoping they will be noting these differences on their own, but if I notice that they are not noting differences, I will suggest that they chart these differences.


2 minutes

For homework, I am asking students to read Acts IV and V.  Prior to showing the rest of the film, I will be giving a quiz. As a way of motivating them to read, I will tell students that they must all pass the quiz in order to finish the film.  Students that do not do well on the quiz will go out into the hall to re-read the sections of the play and complete a study guide. We'll see what happens!

Closure: Sharing Differences

6 minutes

At the end of the class period, I will ask students to share some of the differences they collected on their T charts with their classmates (partners) (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1.a).  I am having them do this so that they can "steal" differences for use during the discussion at the end of the film. When we discuss as a whole group next class, I will be asking them why they think the director, Baz Luhrman chose to make these scenes or characters different from the original version of the play.