Romeo and Juliet

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Romeo and Juliet Essay – Morgan Walsh

Texts need to continually change and evolve to suit different audiences. This is evident in Shakespearian dramas such as Romeo and Juliet, which has evolved to suit today’s modern society and remain interesting to audiences around the world. Baz Luhrmann has changed scenes in Romeo and Juliet to make it appeal to audiences by using a number of film techniques. The prologue is one of many scenes, which has been evolutionised by being played in the movie twice, once on a television screen and another through a montage of images, which creates tension. The Capulet and Montague Brawl also has undergone change by being set at a gas station to help create and characterise the Montague and Capulet boys. Through costuming at Capulet’s party, the romantic balcony scene, Mercutio’s death and Romeo and Juliet’s death, it is obvious that films need to undergo change to remain interesting to audiences and stay modernised.

Baz Luhrmann has changed the prologue to make it suit the audience of people from modern society. The montage of events in the film Romeo and Juliet creates tension and an insight of what the play is about. Luhrmann has used images of the two household buildings, which are both taller than other buildings around them and are equal in height proving that they are both a like in dignity and respect. The shot of the two households shows a road that divides them because of their differences that they hold, however they are both similar in status. The camera shots that they use in the montage, along with the jump cuts, create tension and build suspense. The loud and powerful soundtrack, which crescendos as the images of the brawl are shown on screen, reinforces this tension. Further, the prologue is played on a television screen, which is one of the sources of how we receive information of what is going on around us. Luhrmann has used the television screen rather than a chorus to make it appeal more to a modern audience. He has done this to show that the ideas of the story are still relevant but need to evolve.

Luhrmann has modernised the Montague and Capulet brawl at the gas station by using soundtracks and film techniques to show tension between the two families. He uses costumes, to show the personalities that each character portrays and soundtrack, which relates to each character in conjunction. The Capulet’s are dressed in leather and expensive steel capped boots, which makes them appear as dangerous and a threat to others. The Montague boys are dressed in a hip hop style, with loose clothing and hip hop soundtracks played as they enter the scene, this creates an innocent effect, this creates a laid back character, in which they aren’t any harm to the people around them. As Tybalt enters the scene the music changes to a western theme, when he pulls out his gun and points it at the Montagues a sign “add more fuel to your fire” – the first visual pun is shown. Another pun that is used and shown several times is “Phoenix Gas”, the name of the gas station where the fight is held. This visual pun is referring to the bird phoenix, which with fire it is reincarnated to live through its youth time and time again which is what occurs in this scene. The sign is seen as a visual pun because one of the Montague boys gets shot and lives through the injury.

Luhrmann has used visual techniques and costuming to create characterisation in the Capulet’s party scene. He uses costuming to establish the different personalities that they each hold, he dresses Romeo in a knight costume to show that he is “Juliet’s knight in shining armour”, he then dresses Juliet as an angel to show that she is an innocent girl who isn’t any harm to anybody and she is someone that you are destined to fall in love with Romeo. Mercutio is dressed up as a girl along with Paris who is dressed as an astronaut. Luhrmann has then dressed Tybalt as a devil to hint to the audience that he is “evil” and is a...
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