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How did the director Baz Luhrmann ensure that his film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet would successfully appeal to a wider audience than Shakespeare would usually reach?

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Introduction

How did the director Baz Luhrmann ensure that his film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet would successfully appeal to a wider audience than Shakespeare would usually reach? Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is a popular text used in schools. It appeals to a teenage audience because of the simple plot where 'A pair of star-crossed lovers take their lives' Teenagers can relate to Romeo and Juliet because of the conflict between themselves and their parents. Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of the play uses a range of very clever techniques filled with gangs, guns, car chases and lots of music. If you have never read or watched a version of Romeo and Juliet it can often be hard to follow Shakespeare's language. Baz Luhrmann has very cleverly given you a more visual view of the play so that you can understand the events, if you can't understand Shakespeare's language. The dialogue is Shakespeare's original, but the more poetic passages that don't add much to the action have been cut, this is so that you can get to grips with the storyline. From the very beginning of the film our attention is secured by seeing a television screen with a news reporter stating the prologue. ...read more.

Middle

The costumed ball tells us a lot about the characters. Mercutio turns up as a drag queen, which is an element to his sexuality. Whereas in Shakespeare's era drag queens and sexualities were not thought of, they would have been considered as abnormal. This also fits Mercutio's character because he is a natural performer. His lines are always very witty and he is generally over the top. Juliet is wearing a pair of angel wings and is dressed all in white. This symbolises her purity, innocence and light. Other illustrations of this are in her bedroom where she has religious icons and candles. Romeo's warrior costume reflects his character because we all know that he hates violence and wishes for peace between his family and the Capulets. Tybalt usually has a black costume, which is an indication of evil. We all know that he hates peace and '...all Montagues...' Lady Capulet wears an Egyptian pharaoh outfit, which suggests that she is a powerful and strong woman. Baz Luhrmann has decided to introduce a lot of drugs into his own version that would never have even been thought of in Shakespeare times. ...read more.

Conclusion

The language is unaltered but, in my opinion, does not have the full effect that Zeferelli's version did because of the American actors accents. There are times when it is hard to understand what has been said because of the way it has been spoken. When Romeo and Juliet first meet at the Capulet party they meet across a fish tank, which I think worked well because it was unusual yet appropriate. However, the biggest alteration to the plot is at the end when Juliet wakes up just as Romeo is dying. I think this works because it makes it just that little bit more dramatic and ironic. There were seconds in it and it made the situation seem even worse than it already was. Together with the camera moves and tricks, sound effects and track, as well as a clever casting arrangement, Baz Luhrmann created a very successful version of Romeo and Juliet. He did not adapt any of Shakespeare's language; he just simply made some very wise choices and imaginative ideas to ensure that his version would appeal to a very large audience. If Romeo and Juliet really is a timeless story, then this version, by Baz Luhrmann, is perfect for it's time. Liz Shoffren 10Tn Romeo and Juliet Coursework 30/5/02 ...read more.

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