Zeffirelli's 1968 version of Romeo & Juliet is easier to understand than the more modern Luhrmann version. Zeffirelli's version of Romeo and Juliet is traditional in language, scenery, and music. Where Luhrmann's version is traditional in language but very untraditional in scenery and music. Zeffirelli's film is much more enjoyable than Lurhmann's film.
The scenery in Zeffirellis" film helps to clarify the meaning of the Elizabethan language that is being used in the production. The party held at the Capulet castle, where Romeo and Juliet meet, has the traditional historical English atmosphere: heavy curtains, stone pillars, and cold castle look. The scenery helps to clue the viewer in to what's going on. .
In Luhrmann's version, the scenery takes away from the story. The Capulet castle is very untraditional. There are fish tanks, an elevator, and a modern ballroom. The scenery in this film makes the story more difficult to understand. The Elizabethan language is not easy to understand and the scenery does not help to set a clear picture of what is happening.
The language in both films is from the same era, the 16th Century. In Zeffirelli's version the language fits the setting and costumes and the time period the movie portrays. Romeo and Juliet are dressed in period costumes of the 16th century and the castle and town are portrayed, as they are believed to have looked in that time period. Seeing 16th Century dress and setting, the viewer expects to hear the proper language spoken for that time period. In the balcony scene, when Juliet says, "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?" The mannerisms and language were appropriate for the era being portrayed in the film. .
However, in Lurhmann's film, the modernization of the film makes the traditional language seem out of place. In modern times Juliet would be expected to say something like, "Romeo, Romeo, where are you, Romeo?" To have an otherwise modern day Juliet use language from the 16th Century does not make for a good movie.