Shakespeare’s second tragedy, “Romeo & Juliet”, was written between 1594 – 1596. The tragedy is brought about by fate and the story is based on an Italian Legend, which was well known in England at the time.
Baz Luhrmann directed the modern day film. It is shot in Mexico, although it is meant to be “Verona Beach which is a sexy violent world neither set in the future, nor the past.”
The opening scene or prologue is a news report. The film ends with this theme of an ongoing news report. The lines are:Order now
“Two household, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;”
The language is still the old Shakespearean English but instead of being spoken with a proper English accent it is spoke in a modern American accent which makes it a lot easier to understand.
The story of “Romeo & Juliet” has some universal themes including; intensity and passion, youth, the division and opposition of generations, youth finding their independence and gang and sectarian warfare. Each of these themes has cultural relevance today. The representation of characters is a signifgant role in the film. The Capulets are shown to be big macho family always looking for a fight. In the garage scene the Capulets drive up in a big sports car, they are dressed in black and have facial hair to give them a very tough menacing look. Tybalt also has metal heels on his boots and he has two guns. On the other hand, the Montagues drive up in a yellow convertible car all wearing bright colored Hawaiian shirts. They seem weaker, more fun-loving characters.
Baz Luhrmann took a very modern approach to the cinematography of the film by using lighting, cameras and lenses to their full potential and to bring new senses to your mind. He had an advantage over Franco Zeffirelli as film technology has advanced a lot. He uses a lot of techniques such as highlighting people’s eyes like Juliet when she is talking to Romeo.
The props in the film are excellent for example their guns are called “swords” or “daggers” to keep to the language of the play. They also link modern themes of today’s youth such as the scene before the masked ball where they take the drug ecstasy.
The movement of the characters in the film is done in different styles. In the scene at the garage where Tybalt draws his gun and adds a scope on the top, it is like he is praying to God for a good shot to hit the Montague.
The pace of the film varies, the love scenes are slow, which gives you an idea of intimacy compared to the fast moving action scenes, which raise your adrenalin and make the film more exciting. The music also works hand in hand with the pace of the film to give you that bit more of a dramatic impact.
The Baz Luhrmann Romeo and Juliet film I thought was not bad. It had the right choice of actors. The choices of Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo and Claire Danes as Juliet were good. This movie was a good watch and interoperation although at parts the language was still a bit hard to under-stand as it was still in Shakespeare’s poetic style.
“A glooming peace this morning with it brings;
The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head:
Go hence; to have more talk of these sad things;
Some shall be pardon’d and some punished:
For never as a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”