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Analysis of a scene from Luhrmann's production of Romeo and Juliet: Act 3, Scene 1

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Introduction

Analysis of a scene from Luhrmann's production of Romeo and Juliet: Act 3, Scene 1 It seems interesting at first that Baz Luhrmann should choose to rework Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet into a modern movie. However, when you think about the aims of a modern film-maker such as wanting to really affect the audience and create a series of moving and powerful images shot through with dialogue, then it is less surprising that Romeo and Juliet was Luhrmann's choice. Shakespeare's play is filled with emotion and suspense, so had limitless potential to be made into a great movie. Luhrmann adapted the play for the big screen very effectively, managing to portray the emotion of the film using visual storytelling techniques that had not been available to Shakespeare at the time he wrote and staged it, for example elaborate sets. One of the scenes where Luhrmann portrays the emotion and drama of the story superbly is Act 3, Scene 1. It is possible to consider how effectively Luhrmann adapted this scene by studying the different techniques he employed in reworking it from the play into part of a movie adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. The soundtrack complements the movie, and was used in this particular scene to help set the mood. Music in the movie is used to build tension, convey emotions and create links between other scenes in the movie. For example, whenever the viewer sees Tybalt and the Capulet boys together, wild western music can be distinctly heard. Be it at the petrol station in the opening of the movie or on Verona beach, the wild western music is consistently associated with them. When they walk onto the beach out of their car, the way they swagger and walk in a triangle formation with Tybalt in front looks like they are beginning a gun fight scene from a western movie and the music accentuates this visual image. ...read more.

Middle

He also cuts out a lot of the original dialogue. This is more easily explained though, as a movie is more about being able to portray emotions through other mediums than dialogue such as visual images, music and the expressions on actors' faces. Where it is not always possible to identify why characters become so angered at the comments of other characters in the play, it is made more obvious in Luhrmann's adaptation. For example, when Tybalt taunts Mercutio near the beginning of Act 3, Scene 1, 'Mercutio, thou consort'st with Romeo-', the connotations of what he has said are not that clear in Shakespeare's play. However, in the movie it is clear to a modern day audience that Tybalt is trying to rile Mercutio and it is more understandable as to why Mercutio is angered by the comment. The sets created by Luhrmann and his design team portray the attitudes of the times and the people of Verona. Verona beach is seedy and all about advertising, a real contrast to the holiness and religiousness of the wedding ceremony of Romeo and Juliet in the previous scene. This sets Romeo and Juliet away from the rest of the characters in that they seem more elevated and pure. The seeming religiousness of Juliet in the shot juxtaposed between the two fights makes her seem innocent due to the candles, religious figures and warm glow of her room. It also gives the audience a sense of what Romeo is losing by continuing on with this fight. By having the statue of Christ damaged at the end of the scene, Luhrmann promotes the idea that not only is this feud tearing the city and the families apart but that it is also damaging the religion of the families involved. The religious symbol has started to break as it gives up on the feuding families. The use of guns in the movie as opposed to swords and daggers has much more effect than just modernising the play. ...read more.

Conclusion

A two shot is used well with Mercutio and Romeo in shot to show the emotion of both characters as a result of Mercutio's imminent death. The extreme close up of the gun magazine and the gun being cocked are in contrast to the extreme close up of Romeo offering his hand in peace. Luhrmann uses high and low-angle shots to accentuate the vulnerability of different characters. These shots are usually used with Romeo as their subject, that is that either Romeo is shot from a high angle or him looking up from a low angle. This accentuates the vulnerability of him as a character but also the vulnerable positions he puts himself in such as having Tybalt point a gun to his head. As Romeo cries, 'I am Fortune's Fool!', there is a high angle shot down on him from the top of the statue, making him look, insignificant, vulnerable and giving a sense that he is in trouble for killing Tybalt. There is a high angle shot on Romeo as he shoots Tybalt which is ominous as it suggests higher powers are looking down on the wrong he is doing. Luhrmann has adapted Act 3 Scene 1 effectively in his movie. He had to decide what to include and how to shoot the scene to convey the emotion that fuels it, indeed one of Luhrmann's main concerns when shooting this movie was staying true to Shakespeare's original play. Luhrmann had an advantage over Shakespeare in that he could visually show a lot of the emotion and feeling that Shakespeare had to have his characters explain when he staged it. Where Luhrmann has omitted text from the original play, he has shown the emotion that was expressed in the text through the actions of characters and, among other factors, sets, lighting and music. So while Shakespeare supplied the wonderful story behind Luhrmann's adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, it is Luhrmann who successfully turned the play into a modern day movie that stayed true to Shakespeare's play while being suited to a modern day audience. ...read more.

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