The films I will be analysing and commenting on are Baz Luhrmann’s remake of “William Shakespeare’s Romeo +Juliet” (1997) as well as the outstanding film “Moulin Rouge” (2001). The Key features I will be focusing on are the following:
Shot types and framing, Camera Angles, editing, lighting dialogue, music, location and costume. I will study each section for each film followed by an explanation for each film after that I will compare both films for that particular section. By analysing these topics I will be able to comment on Baz Luhrmann’s skill as a director and how he uses his skills.
The music was very important in Romeo and Juliet. It fitted in well with the story line and the acting. Luhrmann used slow music for romantic scenes and fast music for action scenes. The music helps to add to the atmosphere. The music attracts more teenagers to the film, as it was modern music liked by teenagers. In the Capulet’s party there was very fast loud disco music as there was a party, once we had entered the toilet there is slow, romantic music as it is when Romeo and Juliet first meet. Another example of where Luhrmann uses sound techniques is during the petrol station with Abra as he strolls out of the car. He has the look of a typical gunslinger, someone who could be extremely dangerous. The music is changed, as a more electric tune plays more menacing and threatening than before, highlighting the danger of this man. Fear is shown in the Montague’s faces, shocked by the appearance of a known enemy. This man alarms them and with this abrupt entrance one of the boys makes a quick movement to reveal the butt of his pistol.
Luhrmann creates an atmosphere of many things in this scene but the main three things are tension, fear and excitement. I first of all think Luhrmann created this by showing the anger between both families this both created tension and fear of one another, he did this by introducing the boys and slowly setting the scene up till both families started being rude to each other. Both families show this by body language and face Expressions. I think the Montagues though felt more threatened by the Capulets because when the Capulets appeared they suddenly had a sense of fear in them, which created quite a bit of tension.
A fast frightened movement, followed by the facial shot of a frightened face and the sound of a reluctant gasp, signifying the fear and tension between the two families. After the two families meet there is anger and hate starting to show as the montages reverse the car, with the noise of screeching tyres, and the sound of a quick furious sounding, loud blast of music showing anger. The caplets sling loud though slow angry words at the Montages who return fast frightened words trying to calm the situation. Though as the camera shot goes to the toilet door, the quick shocking music picks up again and Benvolio appears-an image of a peace maker leading to a close up of Benvolio’s gun with a change back to western music. Both films use modern music known by both audiences but are used in different ways for different reasons. Moulin Rouge uses music not only because of the film’s theme but it is a creative yet clever way of covering simple conversations between people. Christian and Satine express their love through music rather than conversation.
Baz Luhrmann uses different cinematic shots to vary the frames in the film. Different shots have different terms which are used to indicate the amount of subject or character within a frame, how far away the camera is from the subject or character, and the perspective of the viewer. Each different shot has a different purpose and effect on the audience. An Extreme Long Shot is generally used as a scene setting shot. At the beginning of the film it shows a shot of Paris ranging from the Eiffel Tower to the Moulin Rouge. This informs the audience where the film is set making them more interested in the film as they can really relate to the place where the film was shot. Luhrmann has chosen to use many long shots to view characters as approximately life size.
Long shots show a full length shot of the character from head to toe. Long shots are very popular in this film, when the shots are inside the club and show many people dancing together. This interests the audience more as they feel involved in the film as the viewers enter the mind of the Moulin Rouge. Luhrmann uses long shots to introduce characters to the audience so they know what they look like. This persuades the audience to watch the film more so that they can find out more about the characters and their past. If a shot contains two characters from the waist up these are called the two shot. These often occur in this film when there is a narrative between characters. For example the most frequent two shots are of Satine and Christian, the lovers. These are shots which include dialogue informing the audience of the storyline. The three shot are also used. This is when a shot contains three figures.
Luhrmann uses the three shots when three characters are talking for example, a three shot is used between Satine, Christian and the Duke. Here the audience feel tension and suspense as the Duke wants to split the couple up and make Satine his but the audience do not want this. Medium shots focus in on the characters actions and show the audience more clearly of the relationships between the characters making the audience wanting to go and see the film. A close up Shot concentrates on either a face or detail of Mise-en-scene and shows very little background. Examples of close up shots in Moulin Rouge are close up shots of Satine’s diamante necklace, Satine’s face and the Duke’s facial expressions. These close ups shots magnify the object showing the audience the importance of things. Luhrmann makes use of camera angles in Romeo and Juliet to create certain effects. For example at the petrol station the camera angles become sharp and fast, as the fighting starts, showing the urgency of the situation. As the two gangs shoot at each other the camera focuses on the sign again ‘Add more fuel to your fire ‘being shot at continuously.
During the fight, the speed fluctuates a great deal, sometimes moving very fast with the movement of the camera very erratic and occasionally moving in slow motion. Although the editing makes this scene overall fast paced the camera centres on Tybalt several times, in slow motion, as he prepares to shoot. His movements are like a ritual which it seems he has performed many times. Every distinct movement is exaggerated, for example when he takes his jacket off then taking his gun out and kissing it. The camera also focuses on his skills with the gun. He doesn’t seem to be disturbed by the situation in the least. He seems very comfortable with the scenario and takes his time in every movement rather like a cat. The camera angles in this scene focus mainly on the facial expressions especially eye movements as well as the exaggerated actions of each of the characters. It also focuses on the little things like the engraving on the gun and the signs at the petrol station to emphasize what is going on at the petrol station and to allow the viewers to understand the situation immediately and also form opinions about each character promptly.
Luhrmann uses different edited shots to also create different atmospheres. For example in Moulin Rouge when Christian is on the street he is crying for Satine. The surroundings move faster than he is to show how life is moving on however he cannot as he has lost the love of his life. The edited shots create a depressed atmosphere for Christian but not for anyone else. Romeo and Juliet uses edited shots to create tense and dramatic atmosphere such as when Tybalt and Romeo face each other with their weapons. Short zoomed shots of their face are used to show uncertainty of who will fire first.
Luhrmann uses the location of Mexico to best describe the city of “Fair Verona” in Italy. Mexico was chosen as it has a powerful religious order much like Verona in Shakespeare original play. Luhrmann also decided that because Mexico is full of violence and sex, it would be the perfect location for two lovers to be forbidden to see each other. I was also an excellent choice to appeal to the audience. Most of the scenes represent old settings in the original play. For example the petrol station where everyone meets. This is because it is in the middle of the town where people notice it and stop to buy petrol or ordinary goods.
Moulin Rouge is set in the turn of the century, 1899 when there was a great advance in technology and a change in social structure. The bohemians brought about the idea that required working hours should be used for leisure. This created a great demand for entertainment. The theatre is very much a centre point for the film. It has been designed to amaze and delight the audience, following the same idea of the real Moulin Rouge. The elephant set is used as Satine’s bedroom in the film whereas in the real Moulin Rouge the elephant was the home of a small Arabian theme club.
Baz Luhrmann then goes on to add a Helicopter to show the seriousness of the events that have occurred. The Helicopter again is appealing to the modern audience because at the time a Helicopter would definitely not have been used and we are also used to seeing these. Helicopters are often called upon when the situation gets totally out of hand. Baz Luhrmann situation gets totally out of hand. Baz Luhrmann adds the Helicopter to show severe violence. The violence relates back to the feud between Montagues’ and Capulets’. Helicopters are used to maintain the peace and quiet within the city and also to keep it under control.
Baz Luhrmann then shows evidence that the feud of montagues’ and capulets’ is destroying the city. He uses a frame to show buildings being burnt down. The fire symbolises rage, terror, and chaos. All this helps to prove that Montague and Capulet are indeed destroying the peace and quiet of the city by feuding. In the next frame Baz Luhrmann decides to use a modern form of media by using newspapers to show the rivalry. The newspaper headlines make it seem like they are two huge opponents. Baz Luhrmann’s idea of using modern day newspapers appeals to the modern audience because every major event nowadays appears in newspapers.