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Compare and Contrast the different ways in which Baz Luhrmann and William Shakespeare establish "Romeo and Juliet" as a tragedy.

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Introduction

Compare and Contrast the different ways in which Baz Luhrmann and William Shakespeare establish "Romeo and Juliet" as a tragedy. In studying "Romeo and Juliet", we have looked at two very different interpretations of the story, first the original scripted play by William Shakespeare, and then Baz Luhrmann's fast moving, modern adaptation. Both of these versions have taken the aspect of tragedy in the play and made the most of the techniques available to them to create a finished production that is effective and impressionable. Both Shakespeare and Luhrmann have made extensive use of mind association throughout their productions of "Romeo and Juliet" by creating many different genres to connect with the memories of the audience so that they are subconsciously aware that they are witnessing a tragedy. This is more apparent when watching Baz Luhrmann's interpretation than in reading Shakespeare's original text, because genres and themes are more directly obvious when being viewed. A common genre that is used in the opening scenes of Luhrmann's "Romeo and Juliet" is the dramatic and exaggerated 'Spaghetti Western.' The sound effects used are typical of this genre; whizzing bullets and the almost cartoonish exaggerated sound of a gun being spun around. ...read more.

Middle

Both of the families have sizeable cars, and ostentatious expensive jewellery, which accentuates the power and the money that is behind the rift between the families. All through the introduction, there are references to, and images of, guns. This is opposed by the constant images of purity that are placed as along side the violent images as a contrast and to emphasise the innocent love corrupted by the violence and hatred of the Montague and Capulet households. All of these examples of iconography can be linked to the theme of tragedy, but probably none more than the image that is shown of the Montague and Capulet family pictures on a newspaper page. This image is shown, and then quickly a flickering flame is shown to us. The sequence is repeated, and overall, it gives the impression that the paper is being burnt. This signifies the destruction of the two families, and as the fire was started by the feud between them, it signifies how they brought about their own devastation. Luhrmann has used the original setting of Verona for Romeo and Juliet, but transposed it into the modern setting of 'Verona Beach'. This translates the text to his benefit in the way that his audience can then link it to the 'Venice Beach' in California on which the slightly corrupt but beautiful Verona Beach in Romeo and Juliet is based on. ...read more.

Conclusion

Luhrmann has used specific lighting to fit in with the clarity and depth of the text. At the beginning of the images used to depict the prologue, he has made the lighting quite bright, but when the line "From ancient grudge break to new mutiny," the lighting becomes much darker and more overcast to blend in with the text, which has started to reflect the play's theme of tragedy. In conclusion, I think that Baz Luhrmann and William Shakespeare, although they are addressing the same story and theme, proceed to do so in different ways. This is because of the different media that is used and that was made available to them. Luhrmann had the choice of using iconography, a technique that he employed a lot during the film, whereas Shakespeare did not, and this immediately made a big difference in their styles. Luhrmann has taken a stylised approach to the play, whereas when Shakespeare's original version is produced, it is often portrayed as a naturalistic piece. Shakespeare focuses much more on the text and language to launch his theme, whereas Luhrmann is more successful as establishing the genre of tragedy through his choice of images and pace. In this was I can conclude that they were both successful in establishing Romeo and Juliet as a tragedy, but they did so with contradictory methods. Emily Taylor 11B Mr Tucker ...read more.

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