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The opening scene in Baz Luhrmann's production of William Shakespeare's

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In Baz Luhrmann's production of William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet", our expectations are swept aside and a modern film appears. When I sit down to watch one of Shakespeare's plays, I expect to see medieval clothes in a rural setting with plenty of poor people. I also expect the words and acting to blend together harmoniously. Instead Baz Luhrmann chose to set the opening scene at a beach side, gas station. This shocked me as I came to realise this was an attempt at a modernisation of Shakespeare's play. I think he chose to modernise the play, to encourage a younger generation to watch his version. He has done this by combining the story and words used by Shakespeare with a modern setting. The clothing, setting and weapons are from a modern era but the story and language are from Shakespeare's time. The younger generation like this because they live in an era, where everything is fast and exciting. This means it takes a lot to keep them interested. They have grown up with four or five channels on the television, and maybe with cable or satellite channels as well, which means they get plenty of choice and therefore watch whatever they want. Technology has advanced rapidly therefore they expect and want fighting, guns and fast moving storylines. Luhrmann chose the actors carefully for this film, in order to please all age groups. ...read more.


The police are shown as a modern version of authority, similar to royalty in the times of Shakespeare. The movie thunders into life with the Montague boys cruising into Verona Beach's Phoenix Gas Station, The continued use of Verona is good because the play is set in Verona, Italy, but the use of 'Beach' is an attempt at modernisation, that I think works. Verona Beach has a Californian flavour with its vibrant town and palra trees, because of this we can be sure the film was not set in Italy. The Montague boys are wearing, casual brightly coloured beach wear, in their florescent, yellow car. This choice of bright, clashing colours shows they want to stand out. Even their accessories are not subtle, for instance pink hair and sunglasses. The music, like their clothes, is very loud and not subtle. The heavy drum beat and rapping links the music to American pop culture. I think Baz Luhrmann chose this type of music, for the Montague boys to make them look cool and modern in teenagers' eyes. This makes them look like they have attitude, almost as if they do not care what other people think. However their appearance makes them seem young and immature when compared with the sophistication of the Capulet boys. The Capulet boys are introduced with a close-up of Tybalt's cowboy boots, the leader of the gang, we see the steel heel of the boots crush a match and then he walks sway. ...read more.


For instance, we see the Prince addressing the families from his helicopter and a television report, using a line from the prologue and the same news reporter. The news is shown to affect the whole city by the Prince not just addressing Tybalt and Benvolio but everyone who can hear him. We can tell this because the citizens seemed to have joined the brawl. The Prince finally stops the conflict by calling in the two heads of the families and telling them the lives will be taken as punishment for 'disturbing the peace' of the streets again. This is good because it puts them in their place. I conclude that the opening scene is very effective for a modern audience, because it is funny, fast and well choreographed. Baz Luhrmann changed the stereotypical setting to a modern beach side setting. He has introduced younger, but better characters. However he has not changed Shakespeare's language. He ahs added humour, cars and guns, which appeal to a younger generation more than medieval gowns, swords and rural settings. The additions make the film more exciting even though most young people would not understand what the characters are saying and so may not watch the whole film. This opening scene will hold them in their seats for longer because the story is easy to track by the expressions on the characters faces. Focusing on the opening scene, how does Baz Luhrmann make his production of Romeo and Juliet effective for a modern audience? ...read more.

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