Explain how Baz Luhrman has used film techniques to create an exciting opening to his film version of ' Romeo and Juliet'.

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Naomi Fligg                                                            Romeo & Juliet coursework.

Q: Explain how Baz Luhrman has used film techniques to create an

exciting opening to his film version of ‘ Romeo and Juliet’.

‘Romeo and Juliet’ is a classical tragedy written in 1594. The play is remarkable for its fine language and powerful portrayal of character. ‘Romeo and Juliet’ has been popular with audiences for generations and has been made into several successful films. One of the people who did this was Baz Luhrman. Baz Luhrman has cleverly used a mixture of sounds, lighting, camera shots, editing and images to create a powerful, exciting and enticing opening scene to his modern day film version of Romeo and Juliet.

His opening scene is based on the original prologue produced by Shakespeare, and has been modernised and put into images and text to represent key words from the script and to create a feel of the twenty-first century.

The effect of placing the film in a modern setting is clever in the sense that it proves to the audience that this piece of Shakespeare’s work is timeless. It is a play that can be set in the past, present or future, and that can still hook an audience. This is what makes the story appeal to a wider audience. For example, if you set it in present culture, it would be easier for the audience to identify with the characters, with the atmosphere and overall with the whole film.

 But, the problem that faced Baz Luhrman when he was directing the new version of Romeo and Juliet was that he did not know whether there would be an audience in a modern culture for Shakespearean stories. So Luhrman did not make this film with the old-fashioned, Shakespeare ‘purist’ in mind. Instead, by using lively, modern images (swimming pool etc.) with a modern rock soundtrack and young good-looking popular actors, he has taken Romeo and Juliet to an audience that would normally think of Shakespeare as a chore to be studied in school.

However if Baz Luhrman wanted especially to target teenagers, he would have to change a few things: it has to have vibrant on-screen action, soppy love scenes and references to sex. By incorporating these three things into the film he can kill two birds with one stone. He will have an action-packed film that is exciting and fun to watch, and a more romantic ‘chick-flick’, as this would be appropriate for modern day teenagers.

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Another reason for editing the text would be to keep the length of the film down to a more suitable length than a two-hour play. So, some text and descriptive poetry had to be removed. However this does not necessarily remove any of our understanding as speech can be replaced with images which, though a different way of communicating can add to our understanding. The old Shakespearean language can be hard to understand, but images are more universal and can be understood by mostly anyone.  

The Prologue was used in the play as a way for people ...

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