A Tale of the Young for the Young: Romeo and Juliet

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Romeo and Juliet
“A tale of the young for the young”
By Laura Marinos

Throughout the 20th Century, there have been several attempts to transform William Shakespeare’s famous works into a modern context, with The Lion King based on Hamlet and 10 Things I Hate About You as a loose transformation of The Taming of the Shrew. Of course, there have been two successful transformations already based on Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy, Romeo and Juliet; West Side Story and Zeferelli’s Romeo and Juliet. West Side Story is an entertaining musical set in New York City with two lovers, from opposing gangs, while Zeferelli made the play into a movie, keeping Shakespeare’s verse and traditional clothing. This week, a modern take on the love-tragedy has been playing in cinemas all around the country, and has taken their audience to a whole new level of Shakespeare’s work. Director Baz Luhrmann has offered a contemporary and bold transformation of the classic love story with Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo and Clare Danes as Juliet. He has integrated vigorous, modern imagery with an energetic soundtrack and popular actors, to form a passionate drama, so different from any films made before it. Luhrmann uses a collection of visual metaphors to manipulate his audience, just as Shakespeare did with verbal metaphors. It's about violence, hate and love at first sight. Two teenagers infatuated by each other at a costume party, forced to breach their parents and the law, and ultimately send themselves to their deaths. Baz Luhrmann's film of the star-crossed lovers is set in a modern, vivid world full of guns, drugs and hate. It is set in the gangs and “gun culture” of Verona Beach, where the Capulet’s and the Montague’s are two rival corporate empires with generations of hatred and gang wars that continually erupt. Fast cars with booming engines replace horses, guns replace swords and drugs replace the famous Queen Mab. Luhrmann’s modern take has successfully captured the minds of...
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