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Baz Luhrmann’s Adaptation of Rome and Juliet

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Introduction

In this essay, I am reviewing Shakespeare's play, 'Romeo + Juliet', adapted by Baz Luhrmann. Because there are numerous concerns from the public about violence in the media, my main aim is to analyze the different types of violence in this movie, how the effects are achieved, and its suitability as a school video. Also, I will be commenting on the responses the violent scenes elicit in an audience. These will be compared, along with the devices used to stimulate these responses, with the Leeds Study of Screen Violence; research carried out at the University of Leeds. While analyzing the violence in the movie, I will be commenting on the different types of violence and how I reacted to them, as well as how other students reacted, and any other possible responses. Director Baz Luhrmann cleverly manipulates various violent scenes in this movie, and sets them out in different styles to symbolize and to accent relationships between characters using varied camera maneuvers, and cinematic and media devices skillfully and in very interesting ways. The variations in the types of violence also show how one is expected to accept the scene if it happened in real life. I'd also like to point out how from beginning to the end of the movie, Luhrmann is having a good time and 'playing around' by overdoing some aspects, like the surplus of the little Mary and Jesus statues and candles in Juliet's room, and the candles in the church when she and Romeo kill themselves. Besides that, Luhrmann finds numerous opportunities to stereotype an aspect, constantly manipulating our thoughts and imagination as viewers. ...read more.

Middle

The next scene, although it includes death too, portrays stylized choreographed violence and it seems much less violent: when Romeo, out of revenge for Mercutio's death, shoots Tybalt. Most emotions aroused in an audience as an after-taste of the shock and sadness of Mercutio's death would be: hatred towards Tybalt; concern for him after he sinned during what was supposed to be a harmless teenage gangster fight; dislike towards Romeo for not fighting back when necessary, resulting in Mercutio's death; and concern and worry over Romeo for losing a best friend right after getting married. As a personal reaction, I felt strong liking and sorrow for Romeo, but disappointed after he shot Tybalt because Tybalt was a favorite character, and because by marrying Juliet earlier, Romeo had vowed to learn to love all Capulets. This scene includes a lot of expressed anger and would make a viewer upset, but in fact there are very few gunshots and physical contact before Tybalt died. The scene actually looks much less violent than any others because of the lack of aggression. To compensate that, Baz Luhrmann has brought out the violence in other ways, using cinematic effects such as casting a bluish glow over the whole set -blue being associated with coldness, cruelty and sadness- creating rainy and stormy weather, and adding the most gnarring buzz of music in the background, with a steady panicky beat representing a heartbeat. Sound effects like twisting metal and screeching cars were added too, which are the stereotypical noises heard during a car-chase. Tybalt is shot more than once in the chest, and plunges backwards into a pool where he lies motionless, and his blood spreads out under his body like a pair of red wings. ...read more.

Conclusion

This might be because it gives the viewer something to respond dramatically to, rather than a romantic movie that goes round in circles with an expected ending. Although 'Romeo + Juliet' is a romantic play, the violence added to 'Romeo + Juliet', the movie, gives it flavor, and accents the love between the two young stars, showing us how they would kill -literally- to be together. Director and producer Baz Luhrmann really does deserve credit on his adaptation of 'Romeo + Juliet', the play, bringing us 'Romeo + Juliet', the movie. On a different feel, although the types of violence mentioned above are all included in the Study, there are some that have not been used in the movie, or that I haven't elaborated on. One violent scene that would be especially good to analyze is the one where Juliet's father is angry with her and the mother and carries out domestic violence. This scene is very realistic in the fact that it includes a daughter defying her father, which a lot of general people can relate to. Another point mentioned in the Study about realistic fictional violence like this is: "if the victim is particularly vulnerable, the scene will appear more violent," which fits in well because Juliet is a young girl, first seen dressed like an angel. Another unelaborated point about this movie is how there is excessive gun exposure. Not only as a fighting instrument, but Tybalt's gun seemed to be his life - always out when he's around, and once even he kissed it as if to bless it. This idea was used to symbolize Tybalt's downfall just before Romeo killed him, when his gun fell out of his hand and Romeo picked it up. The surplus of gunshots proves the gun culture of Verona. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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