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Examine the impressions created by the opening scenes Luhrmann's "Romeo and Juliet" and analyse how this is done.

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Introduction

Examine the impressions created by the opening scenes Luhrmann's "Romeo and Juliet" and analyse how this is done. Once the 20th Century Fox logo disappears into blackness, we are immediately presented with an impression of what the film will be like. A television appears in the distance, against a black background (the emptiness of the surroundings make us concentrate on the television, and does not distract us). The fact that we are shown a television tells us that it's a modern film, and has brought Shakespeare to the present day. This is further proved by the fact that the presenter is a black woman, who until recently wouldn't have been given such a job. Her hair and clothes are smart (to show the time period), yet plain, so as not to distract us from what she is saying. Behind her there is a picture of a broken ring, a symbol of broken love, telling those who have trouble with the language, or need some time to adapt, what the story is about. The whole ensemble is given a very detached feel, by the fact that it's a long shot of the television (so we are distanced from what's happening), that her voice is lacking in emotion, and that it's a news program (we're used to stories of death and violence on the news, and often pay them little attention). Although we are not told explicitly that it's a news program, the filmmakers imply it by the colour of the studio, the emotionless tone of voice, and the way the presenter's head moves after every few words. Although it starts off as a long shot, during the course of the prologue the camera slowly zooms in, as if we're being drawn into the story. When it gets to a medium shot, the zooming stops, to make us listen to what the woman's saying. After a while, towards the end of the introduction, we start zooming in again, but this time faster, to show us entering into the story. ...read more.

Middle

After being introduced to the characters, and as the music starts to speed up, so do the shots. We are given a whole load of very quick shots portraying violence, almost all containing guns. Then, as the music comes to a climax, the title of the piece comes up. The drama is then broken off with the music turning into a drum roll, and the screen wiping from right to left. The mood suddenly changes, and we are now in a yellow (fun colour) convertible sports car (fun car), with people wearing Hawaiian shirts. The drama has now been completely dissipated, and we are left with a bunch of fun loving boys. This is also backed up by the diegetic, loud radio music, which has a lot of bass. Even the way the camera cuts between shots with wipe effects makes the whole thing seem more fun and light-hearted. The presentation of the men also serves to point out that they aren't very serious. They are wearing brightly coloured shirts opened at the front, and one has pink hair. This fun, goofy presentation makes the insults they're shouting lose seriousness. The fact that one has a tattooed, shaved head and that they all carry guns make it seem as though they are trying to act tough, but failing. Overall, we get the impression that their bark is worse than their bite, and that if it came down too it, they wouldn't put up much of a fight. This is also shown by he fact that the music goes "the boys, the boys". They are boys, not men. The shot fades in an ever-decreasing square, which centres on the Montague crest on the back of the man's tattoo. We then see a Montague building, telling those who hadn't already realised, that the "boys" are associated with the Montague's, and therefore the violence also. A mise-en-sc´┐Żne shot of a petrol station sign follows, not only setting the scene, but also showing the danger of the situation. ...read more.

Conclusion

He uses two extreme close-ups one after the other, of Benvolio's and Tybalt's eyes, showing the two enemies come face to face, and reminding us once again of the old cowboy movies, setting the scene for a gunfight. The silence or slow speech help accentuate the tension. Another technique he uses is contrast. To introduce Tybalt, and to give him a more dangerous feel, he makes him create calm in the middle of a heated argument. This has a very profound effect on Tybalt's image, and thereby the Capulets' image. He also uses the contrast of the Montagues and the Capulets to help show their enmity before they speak., giving those who hadn't understood the introduction the sense that something bad's going to happen. He also uses slow motion to great effect during the end sequence. He uses it twice, both times when Tybalt drops something. The first time, when he drops a match, helps extend the high-tension moment for a bit longer. The second, when he drops his cheroot into the petrol, does the same thing, but also tells the audience it is significant, and gives them enough time to work out why. It also reminds us of the first time, shortly after which a gunfight erupted, making us cautious as to what's to come. To create the right impressions in this film, Baz Luhrmann calls upon a wide variety of film techniques, such as camera angles and slow motion, as well as making use of things such as sound to create a tone or mood for the images. He also includes smaller things, such as costume and character appearance to present information about the characters, and bring out certain aspects of their character; with little touches such as the golden gun to create more layers of understanding of the characters and the story. He does all of these things extremely well, sometimes subtly, other times not so subtly, and brings them all together to create an exciting introduction which is simple to understand, yet full of information, plot and subtleties. Dominic Barker ...read more.

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