In the film Romeo and Juliet, we see Shakespeare’s talents captured amazingly by Luhrmann, he takes the original and re-reveals it to enable the people of today to experience the romance for themselves in the style of a modern film. This film targets a wide audience; Lurhmann cleverly allows variety of different themes to widen his variety of different people. He provides a continuos supply of intensity for anyone experiencing it. The people of the modern world can easily adapt to this, in all its aspects of love, conflict, tragedy, and romance. The film echoes recognisable genres, but to make it more conventional to the modern audience he brings, action scenes, modern music, and it blends in with Shakespeare’s world.
Firstly Lurhmann introduces where the film is set, this introduction comes across very powerful and dramatic which emphasises what is later to come. We are now informed of where the film is set, as setting creates the atmosphere and plays a crucial part in the film itself. What better place than fair Verona the country of such Romance but also existing conflict between the two gangs. This reinforces Romeo’s life, as we know it’s full both of love and hatred. We are intrigued to this film because of it’s strong message conveyed at the opening scene, the quick bold images that appear on the screen have such effect. Lurhmann’s cleverly done this purposely to receive and capture our full attention, also to increase our eager minds wanting to watch the film.
The ballroom scene is one of the most important scenes, as this is where Romeo and Juliet’s eyes met and the falling of love took place. Lurhmann cleverly uses costume to reflect the individuality of each character. We can see this technique being used for example Romeo and Juliet’s simplicity of their costumes; they reflect the garishness of the party. Romeo is wearing sliver armour, dressed as a knight we have the perception of Romeo being heroic, and owns loyal, honourable characteristics. Juliet’s outfit is a simple plain white gown with angel wings that signify her innocence. The white symbolises her purity and even a subtle reference to imminent death.
Lord Capulet is dressed as a well-known powerful leader; he is a Tyrant rule with aggression and violence. This character is very much like Lord Capulets, a dominating figure and extremely aggressive. Lady capulets figure is also the well known Cleopatra, lady capulet relates to this character, as her characteristics are very similar to Cleopatras, a self obsessed woman very egotistical and only interested on keeping up her appearances. Tybalt’s costume creates excellent contrast with the remaining guests at the party, as his costume contains red devil horns, red glitter obviously a conflict maker this differs to the purity of the capulets. This threatening personality contrast with the good perception we have of the “hero” Romeo.
Another scene, which seems very significant, is the way Romeo and Juliet meet. It’s a private scene therefore it seems very meaningful and comes across as a very strong message about the danger for these star-crossed lovers to be together. Use of silence between the two main characters conveys the struggle to come when trying to disguise their relationship in fear of their lives. Also use of cinematography helps Lurhmann to create this intensity and determines the importance of their painful, unacceptable love. He creates this effect by use of close ups indicating clearly their feelings for one another, these close shots reinforce the emotional intensity they share between eachother. We are constantly reminded about the barriers in Romeo and Juliet’s relationship with use of the fish tank separating them from physical contact.
Finally to end this scene we see their own simple world contrasted with rest of the party, good camera work is used here to reinforce the brash, loud, vibrant location, compared to their world of love and romance.
Lurhmann cleverly uses camera shot skills throughout the film, which helps show true feeling within different individuals involved in the scene. He shows how this works when he manipulates camera shots to reinforce fine detail of the atmosphere between characters. For example when Juliet defies her father, here Lurhmann introduces our; the audiences feelings, we have sympathy for Juliet as her father is aggressive with her. We feel for Juliet at this stage, as we are able to see her fear of her father’s violence is being acted upon her. There is a sense of victimisation here, and the viewer picks up on it almost immediately, this emphasises our intimidation of Lord Capulet, as he continues to threaten Juliet. Jerky shots help this scene portray the violent, aggressive Father Juliet has. Instantly we see how fearful Juliet is of this man, Lurhmann cleverly uses camera shots to enhance this fear and also makes the camera go on Juliet’s side. With shots often used looking up to Lord Capulets face, and at times the camera pans out to leave us with the shot of Lord Capulet overpowering Juliet this helps showing the relationship between them.
Good visual imagery is used later on to show the audience more characteristics about Juliet, we see Juliet in her room by herself. This scene seems peaceful, soft, placid, and reinforces that angel like image we have of Juliet. We see colours surrounding her mostly blue and White this suggests that just like the Virgin Mary Juliet also shares the same qualities of purity, religion, and innocence. We can clearly see from this scene that Juliet is not embarrassed of who she is, her wealth and religious values.
Luhrmann introduces mise en scene to us in the next important scene. This has a great impact from the way that the scene is portrayed to the viewer. We have a better understanding thanks to the props and arrangement of actors. The scene is set on Verona beach, at the start of this scene we don’t suspect the action, which is quick to come. This is because the scene starts off with a relaxed laid back atmosphere, and then our understanding is influenced by havoc turning up; the Capulets. Everything kicks off and we understand what’s going on because of Lurhmann’s clever technique to capture our full attention so our understanding of the story is clear. A fight breaks out and takes place on a stage on Verona beach. At first this seems out of place, but Luhrmann has purposely done this to evoke our curiosity, it reminds us of the original Lurhmann goes back to the basics to blend in this clever idea with Shakespeare’s world. We immediately relate to this because of our common knowledge of the original being set as a play on a stage. Straight after this a storm breaks out this is significant because we know how fiendish they feel towards each other. The atmosphere of wind and rain reinforces the conflict to come between the two families.
Lurhmann’s editing is sophisticated. He tries out putting different scenes and images together rather than having one scene. This reinforces the plot using different sequences not necessarily in chronological. An excellent example used by Lurhmann of montage is when Friar Lawrence’s feelings are conveyed. This is the scene where he reacts dramatically to the planned marriage. There are a number of images we see that symbolise what Friar Lawrence is feeling, we see a scared heart which bursts into a firework, this tells us that he knows there is a love between Romeo and Juliet, but also knows of a danger. The wired fence we see reminds the audience of the separation between the two lovers. Lurhmann cleverly uses a white dove to symbolise purity and Juliet. He focuses on both montages; the capulets shaking hands reflects friendship. This entire well put together images gives us a range of ideas about Friars decision and his discomfort about the marriage. We can see that montage expresses many feelings that characters can not say or act out, so this is an excellent way of expressing them.
A powerful tool used creating background conversation, voices, and special effects is sound. Lurhmann cleverly manipulates sound in each scene to enhance mood and atmosphere. Sound is essential to target his wide audience. An example of sound being used well is when Romeo and Juliet first meet and a love song is sung in the background, this reinforces atmosphere of romance and emphasises the deep love between the two.
Lurhmann’s film was highly successful and a massive break out for all romance, comedy and tragedy lovers. He successfully reached his ambitions. The main reason Baz Lurhmann decided to go ahead and make the film was to retell what Shakespeare had already done years and years ago and release a fantastic romance to today’s modern audience. We adapted so well to this new film because it reflected the fact of an all rounded film, and we can also relate to the inspiration Lurhamnn once felt in the making of the film. I have many opinions about the film but to conclude my perception of this brilliant released version, I would say that he’s reached his ultimate goal of recapturing Shakespeare’s qualities and the magic of this film. He should be proud of letting his audience experience something with such deep meaning and such a powerful message to today’s modern world.