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Analyse the way in which Baz Luhrmann uses Cinematic devices in the opening scenes to make Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet accessible to the modern audience.

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Introduction

Analyse the way in which Baz Luhrmann uses Cinematic devices in the opening scenes to make Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet accessible to the modern audience. Baz Luhrmann's 1997 film version of Romeo and Juliet is updated to the modern age while still retaining the original dialogue. The opening shots are unusual but highly affective. Luhrmann starts off with a static long shot focusing on a TV in the middle of the screen. The television immediately explains that the story has been modernised. He then zooms in slowly, taking the audience with him as we wonder what is going on and what will happen next. The TV changes channel to a news report presented by a coloured female, showing us that the film is firmly set in the 20th Century. The camera then jump into the screen and reveals long shots, pans and aerial shots of the modern city of Verona. This is very effective at adding to the appeal for teenagers. Two sky scrapers, one belonging to the Montagues and one the Capulets, are shown in this scene. This gives us the understanding that they are business rivals. Between the two buildings is a large statue of Jesus, which could show that religion is between the two families. The music over this scene is a very loud dramatic orchestral piece which adds a vivid impact and excites the viewer. Once again a voiceover tells the prologue from the original play. The ending of the film is told in this introduction, but rather than spoiling the film, it makes the viewers wonder how the ending is going to be caused. Here several shots of the huge statue of Jesus that towers over Verona, including panning, close-ups, zoom outs, high angle shots, mid shots and long shots. ...read more.

Middle

The slicked-back hair of the Capulets give them a Mafia look and the shaved heads of the Montague boys mixed with their attitude gives the feeling of hooligans. They seem weaker, more fun-loving characters. 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 if it came down too it, they wouldn't put up much of a fight. By examine the visual imagery; I could say both households have supremacy. But Capulets shows me that they have stronger power by being organized more than the Montagues. The contrasting music and clothing keep it simple for the audience to understand. As the Montagues are scared Abra hisses and the word Sin is written on the metal plate over his teeth. This shows how mean the Capulets are; they are mocking them. Their overall appearance shows that they are not passionate and serious about the rivalry between the families. The way he delicately opens his jacket is another way of taunting the Montagues. Abra is showing off his guns, but his movements indicate that he is not actually trying to starting a fight. It also shows that he is calm and collected, not scared of the Montague Boys. This is again in contrast to Gregory, the pink haired Montague, who thrusts his chest forward to show the gun, obviously panic stricken. We also get a glimpse at his gun which is gold; indicating that it's for show more than for use. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is a tension builder as it enhances the aggression and hatred the Montagues and Capulets have for one another. Petrol has been spilt on the ground. Tybalt drops his cigarette onto the petrol. The cigarette is shown in slow motion, as well as captivating the audience, there is also time to show the faces of Tybalt and Benvolio and their reactions. Tybalt has a sinister grin of the enjoyment that he is getting from destroying a part of the innocent society around them. However, Benvolio can see what Tybalt is about to do and how it would effect the society around them so has a worried look and is uncomfortable about what is to happen. The petrol station goes up into flames and due to the fire symbolising hate it is relevant to the text. The camera then zooms into the fire and smoke, this gradually clears causing anticipation to build up, focusing on the shot of the two business blocks and the city below with Jesus in between. The police helicopter then flies over, which backs up the modern theme and already tells us that the houses are in tremendous trouble. A news-report with the headline 3rd Civil Brawl, tells us that this sort of thing is not uncommon. I really enjoyed Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of Romeo & Juliet. In my opinion, the film would have been a lot better without the unrealistic speeds, sound-effects, and actions. I would of preferred to see a more realistic and serious film with less humour. With all the camera tricks, special effects, and action, it's easy to lose the story in the style. Luhrmann's intent was never to drown Shakespeare's dialogue in technique, but it happens. But all in all, I believe this film was a success at converting the romantic tragedy, into a modern Hollywood movie. Scot McGovern ...read more.

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