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How does the opening sequence of "Romeo and Juliet" try to capture audience interest and establish the genre and themes of the film?

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Introduction

Kate Graham How does the opening sequence of "Romeo and Juliet" try to capture audience interest and establish the genre and themes of the film? "Romeo and Juliet" has a very effective opening sequence, the first four minutes set the story of the movie, giving you an idea of what's to come. "Romeo & Juliet" is believed to have been written around 1595 by William Shakespeare. The story is about a pair of star-crossed lovers. Two teenagers pursue their love for each other despite the fact that their families have been at odds with each other for decades. It is directed by Baz Lurhman who immediately captures the audience's attention whilst establishing the film's genre and themes using different methods. Baz Lurhman uses lighting and colour to capture the audience's interest. "Romeo and Juliet" starts with a black background and a Television coming closer to the camera with a newsreader. The black focuses the audience's attention onto the newsreader and what she's saying. Colour symbolism plays a key part in this film and is already demonstrated by the newsreader. The reporter wears red perhaps signaling love, danger and passion. Behind the newsreader is a sky blue screen, giving a feeling of coldness. Also Capulet and Montague are associated with red and blue. Colour symbolism is also demonstrated a lot in the opening sequence with grey, white, black, blue and red being the most common colours used. ...read more.

Middle

Editing is an essential part of the opening sequence to attract the audience's attention. The director Baz Lurhman edits the opening shots of the movie so the audience are introduced to the plot and characters (apart from Romeo and Juliet) before the film even begins. Jump shots are used at a very fast pace to reflect the speed of events in the play. There are variable scene lengths used to focus the audiences attention e.g. some scenes are long like when introducing characters compared to the shorter scenes when fast clips are shown of violence. Shots are interchanged very quickly e.g. shots of the statues which are then relegated to the background in a way the director is setting themes in context for the audience. Scenes of pure text and visuals are also used to reinforce messages through different perspectives e.g. dialogue, newspaper or action etc. as different people take in information in different ways. In a way it is the directors way of getting people to keep up with what is happening in the film. Baz Lurhman also uses mis-en-scene to help capture the audience's attention and establish genres and themes of the film. Shots are often straight and centered to emphasise things clearly e.g. the statue of Jesus in closed into but is shown dwarfed by skyscrapers maybe showing a theme of religion versus business. ...read more.

Conclusion

Mercutio is also made different when introduced, he is a different race from everyone else indicating his uniqueness as he is showing true emotion at the same time. He is shown on a dry, isolated landscape demonstrating his distant from the involvement of the feud taking place in the city. Another key character in the introduction is the police officer; he is shown involved in the middle of the action, but is wearing a uniform signifying authority and discipline. There is also colour symbolism involved in the characters, Romeo's mother has red hair, which may be an indication of her personality as people with red hair are said to be more passionate and quick tempered. This is also the case with clothing, the father's of Romeo and Juliet show no emotion and are dressed normally, but with the mother's of Romeo and Juliet although they show no emotion on their face but it is portrayed through their clothing. The mother's clothing tends to be more flamboyant and colourful indicating to the audience distress. Baz Lurhman effectively captures the audience's attention throughout the opening scene using all these different methods. At one point in the opening scene you are shown an aerial view of the city and I feel that this is an essential scene. After the aerial view of the city is shown a violent, busy, intimidating clip of modern street life within the city is shown demonstrating that the city is complex and dangerous. Even though "Romeo and Juliet" is four hundred years old, it still relates to modern society. ...read more.

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