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Describe how Baz Luhrmann has adapted Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet” for a modern audience.

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Describe how Baz Luhrmann has adapted Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliet" for a modern audience. Shakespeare's second tragedy, "Romeo & Juliet", was written between 1594 - 1596. The tragedy is brought about by fate and the story is based on an Italian Legend, which was well known in England at the time. Baz Luhrmann directed the modern day film. It is shot in Mexico, although it is meant to be "Verona Beach which is a sexy violent world neither set in the future, nor the past. The opening scene or prologue is a news report. The film ends with this theme of an ongoing news report. The lines are: "Two household, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;" The language is still the old Shakespearean English but instead of being spoken with a proper English accent it is spoke in a modern American accent which makes it a lot easier to understand. The story of "Romeo & Juliet" has some universal themes including; intensity and passion, youth, the division and opposition of generations, youth finding their independence and gang and sectarian warfare. Each of these themes has cultural relevance today. The representation of characters is a significant role in the film. The Capulets are shown to be big macho family always looking for a fight. In the garage scene the Capulets drive up in a big sports car, they are dressed in black and have facial hair to give them a very tough menacing look. Tybalt also has metal heels on his boots and he has two guns. On the other hand, the Montagues drive up in a yellow convertible car all wearing bright coloured Hawaiian shirts. They seem weaker, more fun-loving characters. ...read more.


The creative panning done by the cameraman -like the time we experience a jagged and detached close-up to Tybalt's face- the presence of mood-matching music and the SFX are effects used to create the unsettling atmospheric mood of jeopardy and loss throughout the whole scene. Also, half-way through the scene and some time after the Capulets arrive, there is a clearly visible reddish-orange glow cast on the set and characters by the setting sun, which is stereotypically allied with danger, anger and blood. In this scene, there is a considerable amount of physical contact, as first Tybalt aggressively pushes Romeo around, and second, as Mercutio pulls him away from Romeo and 'beats him up' then pushes him onto broken glass. After that, the audience experiences a blurry and confusing moment when Tybalt raises a broken piece of glass and aims to stab Romeo but hits Mercutio instead. The surplus of physical contact and hatred being expressed in angry cries and aggressive actions in this scene makes the audience feel it is an extremely violent and serious scene, far more barbarous than the harmless petrol station fight, although the latter included much more gun exposure, gun close-ups and gun shots. The whole scene is an example of depicted violence: "explicit violence, which attempts to depict violence as it would appear in real life, although frequently exaggerated to create tension or drama". All the violent events in this scene, with their different types and forms, correspond with the Study, which indicates that, "the more personal contact there is between aggressor and victim, the more violent the scene appears," "the more often violence occurs, and the longer it goes on for, the more violent an act seems," and "seeing the effects on the victim" -observing Mercutio's gaping stab- "increases viewers' awareness of violence". This scene is indeed very dramatic, including as many effects and violent aspects as possible to elicit the empty sorrowful relief one feels after Mercutio is dead, and is one of the important build-ups making a viewer completely alert -especially after Romeo takes off furiously at the end of it. ...read more.


Also, I believe that an audience does find violence entertaining, which is why statistics prove that action, thriller and horror movies are much more popular than romantic and comedy ones, especially among teenagers and young people, who are usually the most regular customers of a movie theatre. 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. ...read more.

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