Romeo and Juliet Act 4 Scene 1

Artistic research, Graduation projects

The last project I did at the Netherlands Film Academy was this photograph. We had to make a picture inspired by a text (could be a song, a poem, a few lines from a novel or theatre piece, or even a newspaper clip). I chose a specific scene from Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, in which Juliet, distraught after the exile of Romeo and her coming marriage to Paris, goes to Friar Laurence for help. She is ready to die, but he offers her hope in the form of a vial containing poison. The contrast of those strong emotions was what I wanted to show.

I took more inspiration in the Pre Raphaelites movement for the form. They had a way to show the emotions of the characters in their painting in a beautiful and tragic light, while rendering the textures and colors with immense precision, which I find mesmerising. The clothes and setting are obviously not historically accurate for the quattrocento (when Romeo and Juliet should take place). I did this the same way as the Pre Raphaelites, as they took loose inspiration from legends and stories, and put a story in a beautiful setting.

The beautiful set location in this case is the Apotheek Museum in Maaseik, which I highly recommend visiting. The actress playing Juliet is Louise Verdoot, a long-standing friend of mine, who’s also a talented graphic artist. And Friar Laurence was played by René Martin-Prevel. It was presented during the Keep An Eye Film Academy Festival 2019 in Amsterdam.


JULIET
Tell me not, friar, that thou hear’st of this,
Unless thou tell me how I may prevent it:
If, in thy wisdom, thou canst give no help,
Do thou but call my resolution wise,
And with this knife I’ll help it presently.
God join’d my heart and Romeo’s, thou our hands;
And ere this hand, by thee to Romeo seal’d,
Shall be the label to another deed,
Or my true heart with treacherous revolt
Turn to another, this shall slay them both:
Therefore, out of thy long-experienced time,
Give me some present counsel, or, behold,
‘Twixt my extremes and me this bloody knife
Shall play the umpire, arbitrating that
Which the commission of thy years and art
Could to no issue of true honour bring.
Be not so long to speak; I long to die,
If what thou speak’st speak not of remedy.

FRIAR LAURENCE
Hold, daughter: I do spy a kind of hope,
Which craves as desperate an execution.
As that is desperate which we would prevent.
If, rather than to marry County Paris,
Thou hast the strength of will to slay thyself,
Then is it likely thou wilt undertake
A thing like death to chide away this shame,
That copest with death himself to scape from it:
And, if thou darest, I’ll give thee remedy.