The Hell of Real-Estate and the Heaven of Star-Crossed Lovers

Dylan Hintz
Film Literature
Dr. Johnson

The Hell of Real-Estate and the Heaven of Star-Crossed Lovers

The depictions of reality in film and literature have a distinct advantage over the real world in that whatever is happening between two characters (or more) can be elaborated by the environment and settings surrounding them. In David Mamet’s play, Glengarry Glen Ross and William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, there are a number of incidents involving characters who are clashing with their entrapment with reality, which is reflected skillfully at certain points in both of the film adaptations. Certain filmic elements provide greater visual detail to the scenes described in both films.

For the adaptation of Glengarry Glen Ross a feeling of Purgatory is created whenever the characters of Levine, Moss, or Aaronow are inside the office. The dialogue presented between Moss and Aaronow dealing with their inability to prevent being fired and Shelly Levine’s conversation with Williamson about the leads each take place in the Chinese Restaurant, one of the main settings of the play. However, in the film, the office takes president position as the main scene of the first major act. The mis-en-scene of the office consists of tattered books and disheveled desks, while the greatest emphasis of this entrapment comes from the setting of the coatroom. Draped in a glow of red with nothing but the dark and the rain outside the window, one scene of dialogue added to the movie describes how Aaronow’s character can’t make a sit anymore- he feels finished and incompetent, yet this is the only job he can do for a living. Shelly’s conversation with Williamson about how once he was a top seller, trying to convince Williamson about how in “Nineteen-eighty, eighty-one…eighty-two… six months of eighty two…who’s there? Who’s up there?” (17), also shows a feeling of despair, of not being what one-once-was, and how all existence in this place, the office, is completely futile but forever certain. The constant rainfalls on the outside locks down this imagery in the film, making the office feel like a lukewarm safety to a cold and unforgiving world.
Baz Lurman’s visual adaptation of Romeo and Juliet is poetically vibrant with its own scenery, and the camerawork and mis-en-scene also compliment the Shakespearean literature. In the scene when the two protagonists profess their love to each other for the first time, Scene 2 of Act 2 in the play, there is a line of dialogue from Juliet describing her love for Romeo, in which she says “And yet I wish but for the thing I have:/ My bounty is as boundless as the sea,/ My love as deep; the more I give to thee,/
The more I have, for both are infinite.” This line is absent from the film, and instead the entire scene taking place in the Capulet’s Orchard is replaced with a glowing swimming pool surrounded by dim lighting and a jungle-styled theme reminiscent of the Garden of Eden. There are many close ups within the scene, which is used to channel the feeling of love and closeness the two have even at first contact, following them around as if they were literally the only two people in this perfect world the film crew has created for them.

A filmmaker can create Heaven or Hell for his characters with just the most subtle changes in scenery. Both the films Glengarry Glen Ross and Romeo and Juliet show graceful examples of both extremes.

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