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I will discuss the 1997 interpretation of Romeo and Juliet by Baz Luhrmann and will focus on characterisation and the representation of gender in this production. Detailed gender stereotypes

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Introduction

Romeo and Juliet Essay. In this essay, I will discuss the 1997 interpretation of Romeo and Juliet by Baz Luhrmann and will focus on characterisation and the representation of gender in this production. Detailed gender stereotypes will be presented but further to this, the images and events which challenge and counteract with these stereotypes will be highlighted. In addition to other relevant salient issues and film techniques used will be the theme of gender which will be considered. Dominantly, the essay will follow the actions of the play and will draw many scenes together by evidence from the discussion of one theme throughout. The opening visual image is of a news reader. From this initial image, we (the audience) know that this interpretation of Romeo and Juliet from Baz Luhrmann will not be the usual, stereotypical ham-fisted adaptation for the "big screen". As and audience, we have to face that whatever its merits as theatre, movie Shakespeare makes poor cinema. The argument will be had the other way round, where Luhrmann is concerned. So can we learn such an amount about Shakespeare from such an accomplished work of cinema? To introduce the characters, Luhrmann uses captions that give the descriptions of the two gangs as "The Montague Boys" and "The Capulet Boys". Notice that Luhrmann uses the term "Boys". This is deliberate in its statement. It's about and states the sex and maturity of these characters that then proceed to scuffle. The element that really sets the scene is the music. All the contrasting and elaborate portrayals of the Montague's and Capulets attract the audience through the music in each individual scene. This keeps the audience excited in the action and this makes it a lot more fun and appealing for the audience. The production is also kept it simple to be easily understood by the audience. Clearly, the play is modernised by the music and then because the film contains modern music, the modern-day twists go well with the music. ...read more.

Middle

Romeo does not reveal his true identity until he says "did my heart love until now". He is dressed according to the "trademark" Montague colours and therefore he is wearing a grey and blue outfit. Tybalt on the other hand is dressed in red and black, the Capulet "trademark" colours. These are some of the traditional Capulet colours in the film but also it does reflect his fiery nature and short temper and this shows that instead of a play on words, it is a play on actions and costume which have been bought together to show the same thing. He is wearing a large extravagant pair of horns to show his fiery and devilish nature he possesses within him. This is one of the qualities and features which make him stand out from the crowd and this gives a sense of authority and importance to this specific character. Lord and Lady Capulet were also dressed traditionally in this scene, again wearing bright rich colours to signify their wealth and importance in society. The nurse was wearing a more simple dress than the other ladies at the party but as she works for the Capulet's, she was dressed appropriately as a member of the household help would be expected to dress. On the other hand, a very different approach has been taken by Baz Luhrmann to show the realisation of Romeo and Juliet, coming to the conclusion that if it were to appeal to a more modern audience it would need to have the elements of any other high budget, Hollywood movie yet still needed to include the traditional Shakespearian/ Old English language. Elements like an American or Hollywood type setting with famous, good-looking actors and actresses to play these famous characters, a fast pace film with many twists, which already existed initially from the start. As I have already said, it has a Hollywood type setting in a place called Verona Beach but the actual party sequence I have been studying is set in the grand Capulet mansion. ...read more.

Conclusion

a raging fire, so to speak. In some ways, it primarily represents people's emotional fires, the rage and the anger between these two families, letting off this smoke. This shows a perfect example of imagery contained in a motion picture of one of the greatest plays of all time. After the fire at the petrol station, as the viewers see, things heated up further between the two rival families hence this results in the two families becoming closer to each other towards the end of the story. If the truth be told, in this film a lot of physical things hold a great emotional meaning more than a verbal meaning. For example, another effective use of props was at the start of the film, with the newsreader on the television reading the news. A lot of us associate bad news with the News. It quite often seems to be the only news they do show anymore. This immediately, from the word go, lets the audience know that the story will be terrible and one of tragedy, even before they hear the news reader. This version has been bought to a modern day audience by Baz Luhrmann; he makes great use of actions and imagery to convey Shakespeare's play to a wider audience and by opening people's minds to Shakespeare by not relying solely on the dialogue. In Luhrmann's production of the film, he shows an awareness of both cultural and gender based issues which are still highly political in today's society. However it still seems evident that the film has been directed and produced by a man. Luhrmann's characterisation of both men and women's roles make his sex apparent. It seems that we still see the men as having power and the women as the weaker sex despite his challenges of these stereotypes and this is still highly thought of in today's environment around us all today. Gender is a key issue and one of the main issues displayed in Luhrmann's interpretation of Romeo and Juliet and his representation of men and women reflect this. Hannah Broughton ...read more.

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