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The opening scene of Romeo and Juliet creates a mounting sense of tension and violence.

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Romeo and Juliet 'The opening scene of Romeo and Juliet creates a mounting sense of tension and violence' Romeo and Juliet, written by the world renowned William Shakespeare, is the classical and timeless tragic tale of two hapless adolescents who fall for each other, regardless of the mutiny between their two families. It is one of the most famous love stories ever written. The plot is quite simple; there are two aristocratic families, the Montague's and Capulet's, each with an unrivalled hatred for the other. Romeo is a Montague - Juliet, a Capulet. In this love story, they fall in love, disregarding the families' long-standing grudge, but in doing so aggravate these hostilities more, with the final result being that Romeo and Juliet both die in terrible circumstances, not fulfilling the life they could have had. Baz Luhrmann's on-screen adaptation of this story tries to fit this 16th century drama into modern-day life, but doing it in a way that it keeps the essential essence of Shakespeare in the film. In this essay I intend to describe the effects of Shakespeare's original text in creating a sense of mounting tension and violence to Baz Luhrmann's cinematic interpretation of the play. First of all, before I comment on the tension and violence, I must explain Shakespeare's intentions with this first scene. In the prologue, a Chorus explains to the audience what will happen in the play. ...read more.


For Shakespeare to create the tension and the sense of looming violence, his main resource would have been the language that was used - with maybe, to some extent, the use of music also. Whereas this differs immensely to the film version as Luhrmann uses not so much the language, as the advantages of music, lighting and exceptionally quick camera cuts to his advantage in creating the unease that is intended. To start with the language, it was Shakespeare's main tool for achieving the desired effects of his play. In Shakespearean times the language used in Romeo and Juliet was very strong and was also the very soul of the play. Surprisingly enough, parts of the speech written by Shakespeare was comical, and laden at times with sexual innuendo. As the first scene opens in the play, two Capulet servants are in a public place. They are discussing how they won't stand for being insulted, how if insulted they would stand and fight. Their lines are quite humorous with Gregory calling Sampson a coward, and Sampson then speaking about sex and about being sexually active with: "... and 'tis known I am a pretty piece of flesh." All this would have had the audiences rolling around with laughter. But at the same time they were speaking of their great dislike for all Montagues and therefore, on the two Montagues entering (Abram and Balthasar), the atmosphere changes as the reader can sense the animosity between the two parties. ...read more.


From spaghetti western style, to dramatic orchestral sounds, added to obvious high-tempo stirring beats, all fitted in at the right time, Luhrmann can replace Shakespeare's need for language with what is, in my view, a far more effective and successful inclusion of music. Another contrast between the play and film is the setting. Shakespeare's classic is set in Verona, Italy but Luhrmann's modern day adaptation's setting was, cleverly enough, in Verona Beach, California. The intention was clearly to keep close relation to the original. There are other differentiations between both versions, with plenty of modern items replacing things from Shakespeare's era. For example, swords were replaced by guns, obviously enough - but also the part of the chorus being played by a newsreader on television, was a masterful stroke in keeping a Shakespearean device, yet finding a way to fit it in, in an up to date way. To conclude, Romeo and Juliet on-screen differs enormously from Shakespeare's original version but I believe that Baz Luhrmann has achieved the difficult task that was adapting the play for film. He keeps the Shakespearean idea of the story, in keeping of the chorus and most importantly the language, but succeeds in reinventing it for a different audience. In my own personal opinion I enjoyed Luhrmann's interpretation more, simply because he has a wide variety of tools to make the film exciting, which he uses to great effect, even though Shakespeare's timeless masterpiece is inarguably brilliant, and definitely enjoyed by countless people. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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