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How does Baz Luhrmann make a successful interpretation of Romeo and Juliet for a modern audience?

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How does Baz Luhrmann make a successful interpretation of Romeo and Juliet for a modern audience? Baz Luhrmann has used William Shakespeare's world-renowned Romeo and Juliet love story to create a stunning, innovative and unconventional piece of modern-day cinematography. The story in the film is virtually identical to that in William Shakespeare's play yet Luhrmann sets the film in the futuristic urban backdrop of Verona whilst still using original Elizabethan language. The romantic yet tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet tells of the long-lasting grudge between the parents of star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet; the Capulets and Montagues. He manages to interweave the 16th century story and language with the present-day and it still has the ability to entertain a modern audience. With music, costume and the setting, as well as his distinctive camera style Luhrmann manages to make Romeo and Juliet accessible to today's viewers. I will investigate the techniques that he has used to make sure that an audience that have not necessarily read Romeo and Juliet will understand and enjoy this conversion of a classic love story. The opening of the film shows a fuzzy television amidst a black screen. Then a woman becomes visible who appears to be a newsreader. ...read more.


The noises of everyday things such as horns and shouting are exaggerated and these noises build up until Tybalt and Benvolio drop their guns down which creates a loud crash, once again exaggerated. This 'larger than life' feel keeps the audience engrossed in the action and gives Shakespeare a more fun edge. The scene in which Romeo is introduced is completely different and contrasting to the previous scenes. You see him sitting moodily on the beach in what looks like an old decrepit playhouse. The area is quite empty and seedy. The music gives this scene an incredible amount of atmosphere and insight into how Romeo is feeling. It is sunset and the scene is hazy and romantic. He is smoking a cigarette whilst writing something like poetry in a scruffy suit. The music really sets the scene. All these elaborate and contrasting portrayals of the Montagues and Capulets through music attract the audience, keep them excited in the action and make it much more appealing and fun. They also keep it simple for the audience to understand. Obviously, the music modernises the story as it is modern music and goes well with the modern-day twists. The clothes worn are clearly modern. ...read more.


This adds a colourful, glamorous and kitsch feel to the film. It is like a motif or logo running throughout the film and could be visual imagery to emphasize the contrasts of love and hate, good and evil. Another constant theme is the constant contrasts right the way through the film. A very famous line from Romeo and Juliet highlights this; "My only love sprang from my only hate". As well as the love and hate there is that of religion and violence going alongside each other, the Montague boys and Capulet boys, Romeo and Juliet themselves are contrasts and the setting of the petrol station and the Sycamore Grove. The futuristic setting contrasts with the Shakespearian language, yet they completely compliment each other. Baz Luhrmann has managed to create a highly entertaining film out of a classic love story, he has enhanced and improved an already amazing story. His powerful music, vivid colours, contrasting costumes, exciting camera techniques and cross-reference of various genres all worked together to produce a timeless and unforgettable film. The above methods were no so obvious that they were distracting however; I found them subtle and extremely effective. I believe that Luhrmann's aim was to create an enjoyable film for modern audience who needn't have read the book or know the story and not in anyway ruin the original text. I believe that he achieved this very successfully. ...read more.

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