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How Does Baz Luhrmann Create A Modern Version

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Introduction

How Does Baz Luhrmann Create A Modern Version Of Shakespeare's Famous Play? Explore the Technique By a Close Study of the Opening Sequence of the Film Baz Luhrmann produced a version of Shakespeare's famous play 'Romeo and Juliet' in 1996. The play has been brought into the modern day and is set in a fictional American city called 'Verona Beach' linking back to the original setting of Verona in Italy. Baz Luhrmann brings Shakespeare's play into the modern day by using a variety of camera techniques, sound and colour. He also modernised the characters, costumes and props. The only thing remaining in the past is the traditional Shakespearean language. The film starts with the famous prologue of 'Romeo and Juliet' with a newsreader saying the famous lines "a pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life" the camera zooms in closer and closer to the TV screen until it fills the whole screen. The words from Shakespeare's famous prologue flash dramatically across the screen giving the viewers a sense of urgency as they struggle to read the words in time. Images of conflict in the city also flash fleetingly onto the screen. This reflects what is happening in the film as the prologue speaks of the tragedy of the lovers' death and the violent feud between the Capulets and Montagues. The camera zooms in closer and closer to the only object on the screen, which focuses the audiences attention on what is happening on the news programme. ...read more.

Middle

A lot of religious symbols, for example crosses, are incorporated into the Capulets costume. Baz Luhrman modernises the character by dressing them in typical outfits of modern day American gangs so they fit in with their Verona Beach setting and present fashion. Props are a very useful technique Baz Luhrmann uses to bring 'Romeo and Juliet' into the modern day. In Shakespeare's original play the two houses fight with swords however fighting with swords would seem out of place and old fashioned compared to modern day gunfights. To modernise the scene the director changes the swords into guns but retains the link to the original play by focusing the camera on the gun make 'sword' on the side of the gun. The guns are a particularly good example of how Baz Luhrmann modernises the film. In the introductory scene, the two families are portrayed as being corporate rivals. This makes the film seem more realistic to modern times, as family feuds leading to killings are unlikely to happen in modern times whereas there is a lot of corporate rivalry problems in cities. Baz Luhrmann portrays this by showing skyscrapers featuring the two families from the view from a helicopter. This modernises the film as both skyscrapers and helicopters have only recently been invented and are part of modern life. The Capulets and Montagues both drive around in flash modern cars. ...read more.

Conclusion

In 'Romeo and Juliet' many interesting camera effects are used. The camera also pauses and focuses on certain objects e.g. car number plates. It tracks Tybalt's shoes when he gets out the car at the petrol station, making his footsteps seem very dramatic, for example when he stamps out the match and crunches it against the ground. The effect of the camera focusing on Tybalt's shoes also causes the audience to be intrigued about the character because they don't get to see his face for several seconds. Outside the petrol station the camera zooms in on a sign saying "GET MORE FUEL FOR YOUR FIRE" which is ironic as a huge fire takes place in the scene. The camera shows the view of the city from the Captain Prince's helicopter. This brings the play forward into modern times by using a modern form of transportation. The camera shows a large modern city obviously from our time period. The language in the film version of 'Romeo and Juliet' is kept the same as the original Shakespearean play. Without the original language the characters would not seem realistic to Shakespeare's original version. The original language does not stop the play being brought into the present as he uses other effects to transform 'Romeo and Juliet' setting. Baz Luhrmann does a very successful job of modernizing 'Romeo and Juliet' by altering the setting and characters. His use of sound, colour and camera effects makes the movie appear much more modern. ?? ?? ?? ?? Claire Lancaster ...read more.

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