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Analysis of the party scene from Luhrman's production of Romeo and Juliet

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Introduction

Analysis of the party scene from Luhrman's production of Romeo and Juliet Baz Luhrman has effectively transported Shakespeare's, 'Romeo and Juliet' from a 16th century play to a 20th century film. Using the same text but different settings and resources, the film contains the essence of the play with technological advances. There are many things to consider when analysing the adaptation of a scene. Baz Luhrman has adapted the party scene by using many methods whilst still holding on to the original Shakespearian mixture of love, hate, excitement, foreboding and passion. The type of shots that were used throughout the scene were all very different. The scene begins with an extreme close-up, low level shot of Mercutio's number plate; this immediately establishes the character and his flamboyant nature. Luhrman uses close-ups throughout the 'Mercutio at Sycamore Grove' chapter, for example, of the ecstasy tablet with a picture of a heart on it. Luhrman has chosen to give the audience such a detailed picture of it because the heart is significant. The extreme close-up has been used to express the idea that love is like a drug and we see this idea explored throughout the scene. Another close-up used is that of the invitation but this is purely for the information of the audience so they know how Romeo, a Montague, got into a Capulet party. Luhrman also uses an establishing shot of the young Montagues dancing on the old stage, again, for the audience's knowledge. There are many close-ups also of Romeo looking up at the stars and fireworks. In order to put the audience in the same position as Romeo, Luhrman uses low-angle shots of the fireworks and sky, to emphasise the idea of fate and the stars. The magical mood created by the fireworks is emphasised by another close-up of Mercutio's magic trick with a trinket box this adds to the atmosphere and feeling that 'anything could happen'. The Queen Mab speech itself is said by Mercutio's character with increasing speed. ...read more.

Middle

The song is associated with drag queens and Mercutio's costume confuses the audience as they question his sexuality. This is to draw the audience into the world of teenagers who are confused and sometimes make rash decisions and can be loud and arrogant. The fast pace and rhythm of the song links to the idea of the love drug and spinning out of control also. Luhrman has also mixed in the song sung by Lord Capulet. Although only one word is sung, 'Amore' it means love and it is sung with such a powerful voice that it shows that Lord Capulet has power over love, this links into the plot of the play also as he does. The second song is 'Kissing You' sung by Des'ree. It is a vast contrast to the previous song as it is much more serene and calm. This shows the difference between Romeo and his friends, they are young and free but Romeo has fallen in love and has to become sensible and calm. An example of a lyric is, 'watching the stars without you, my soul cries', it is a song about painful, pure, true love which shows the theme of Romeo and Juliet's during the film. This is 'their song' and is always played when they are together, it is sad and upsetting and therefore represents their relationship to the audience, giving them a sense of things to come. When she is singing, Des'ree is wearing white, which symbolises truth and purity to the audience, making the song more believable. Luhrman has Tybalt speak over the top of the song and his harsh, husky voice sounds evil against the soft passionate song. The violins express the passion between the lovers and they are strong when they kiss then getting louder as the nurse takes Juliet away but then they squeak when they realise who they are. ...read more.

Conclusion

This creates a sense of foreboding in the viewer and the tension and excitement makes the film more interesting and entertaining. The theme's that run throughout the play are also expressed in the film, and in the party scene in particular. For example, the idea of fate that is used so frequently in the play, 'star-crossed lovers', is emphasised as Romeo looks to the stars as he says, 'Some consequence yet hanging in the stars'. As Mercutio magically makes the trinket box disappear, this image also creates the atmosphere of mystery and magic. The same idea of magic, fate and fortune is also emphasised by Luhrman as Romeo has a premonition. At this moment in the film, the audience do not know what these flashing shots mean but this includes the audience into Romeo's confusion. Each of the techniques described above have been used by Luhrman to create an overall effect of a party atmosphere. The combination of light, music and fast moving camera sequences draw the audience in but at the same time the focus on the main characters is still there. The audience are given an open window into each character's personality by their costume and the ending sequence with dark lighting and music sets off Tybalt's speech on revenge perfectly giving the audience the ever-present sense of foreboding. When the film was originally presented to the world, it was not received particularly well as critics believed that it was not true to the original script and therefore not a correct representation of the Shakespearian play that had been known and loved for so many years. However, I believe that this film and this scene do everything that Shakespeare's play did in the 16th century. The audience are drawn into the surroundings by close-up camera shots, feel the atmosphere of the party through music, and the presentation of the characters by both DiCaprio and Danes express the idea of true love to the audience in every possible way. September 2002 Chrissi Manicom 11Y - 1 - ...read more.

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