Appropriation in Romeo and Juliet

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Appropriation is defined as the means to change a text for a particular purpose or for a type of people. Baz Luhrmann’s kaleidoscopic film appropriation of Romeo and Juliet (1996) presents a modern interpretation of the late 16th century play Romeo and Juliet written by William Shakespeare. In his play, Shakespeare explores the themes of conflict and rebellion and their tragic consequences. Similarly, Luhrmann conveys the same themes, however adapts them through the medium of film in order to convey a version of Romeo and Juliet which is relatable to a contemporary audience. He has utilised various film techniques such as setting which I will explore further in relation to the themes. In Shakespeare’s play, the conflict between the Capulet’s and Montague’s is used to convey the consequences of futile family feuds. The two families rich in power and honour have servants and families that fight against the other house. Shakespeare uses comic banter to convey the futility of the conflict between the Montague’s and the Capulet’s this is demonstrated when Abraham questions “Do you bite your thumb at us sir?” Samson replies “I do bite my thumb, sir.” Their conflict ensues in this comedic manner highlighting the childish nature of the quarrel. Arguably, they fought because of the importance of honour in the hierarchical society and to show how important their masters were. However, in the play the grudge against the 2 houses is not known which further conveys the lack of purpose in the conflict. The corresponding scene from Baz Luhrmann film shows instead Benvolio and the “Montague boys” cruising along the freeway in a bright yellow convertible, laughing loudly, with one of them turning around to face the camera and yelling: “A dog of the house of Capulet moves me!” They pull up to a gas station, Benvolio goes inside, and immediately afterward arrive Tybalt and the “Capulet boys,” Abraham (here abbreviated to Abra) and another. Tybalt goes inside, but Abra remains...
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