Critically analyse the opening extract of Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet.

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Tuesday 4th May 2004

Media Essay

        Critically analyse the opening extract of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet.

        Baz Luhrmann has used the three presentational devices in a specific way in his film ‘Romeo and Juliet’. The point of this essay is to analyse them in the opening extract. The presentational devices are: sound; mise en scene; and cinematography. The elements of mise en scene are: why things are placed where they are; what the characters are wearing; body language and facial expression. Sound is quite obvious but there are many different types: Diegetic is sound which is heard as part of the film world; non-diegetic is sound which we do not recognize as part of the film world; parallel sound is music which we expect to hear as part of the film alongside the image and contrapuntral sound is when the music is in contrast to the film. The elements of cinematography are to do with the camera such as; angle and height. Cinematography is a primary tool with which the viewer responds to the mise en scene. All three are closely linked together as the director hasn’t got the choice of not using them but does have the choice to select how to use them.

        The first presentational device, mise en scene, is seen in the scene where the news reporter reads the prologue. The director has positioned the reporter within a television set which shows us it’s going to be a more modern film instead of the older, more traditional version like Tchaikovsky. This also suggests the story is over and we will be experiencing the events in a flashback. The scene is very measured as the director has been very deliberate in how the reporter uses body language, facial expressions and costumes to show her role. She looks very serious and in a suit which is what the audience would expect of actual reporter.

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        Another use of mise en scene is the scene where the hip hop music starts and the Montagues appear driving down the street. They are wearing bright, flowery shirts. This gives the audience the impression that they are happy-go-lucky boys. We also see that the boys are confident and not very serious and, although they are have guns, they are just playing at being men. Luhrmann deepens this effect by choosing that they drive an open top bright yellow car.

        The third mise en scene is when the Montagues are getting their petrol; the Capulets arrive at the petrol ...

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