Baz Luhrman’s 1997 version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, was modernised and aimed at a young modern day audience. Luhrman has followed in the footsteps of Franco Zeffirelli, who made this movie in 1968. The 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet had won four Oscars. Luhrman used the original language of Shakespeare just like Zeffirelli but, made it modern he used a fictional city called, Verona Beach mirroring Los Angeles. He used infamous actors Claire Danes and Leonardo Dicaprio, therefore they weren’t associated with other roles.
Luhrman used modern music to make it more contempary, and to attract the audience. Luhrman used a black TV presenter to show it’s modern day. Luhrman’s use of fire is very effective especially, to support the raging families at war. At the beginning of the movie when the family tree is burnt, this shows both families losing Romeo and Juliet, as a result of this both families are falling apart . The fire also shows the hatred between the two families. When the petrol station is on fire there’s a poster burning which says “The 2nd brawl breaks between….
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“This shows that there is a lot of vendetta between the families. Luhrman’s use of religion is to support the ancient grudge between the two families. At the very start of the movie there are two skyscrapers, one which belongs to the Capulets and the other to the Montague. In between the two skyscrapers there is a statue of Jesus. This shows the ancient grudge the families have had and the Holy war, therefore the statue of Jesus keeps the families away from each other to keep the peace. Another use of religion used by Luhrman is to show that the Capulet boys and the Montague boys are both religious.
At the petrol station, when the brawl between the Montagues and Capulet boys is starting. We see one of the Capulet boys wearing a religious T-shirt, which has a picture of Jesus on it. Also the Capulet boys have a cross shaved on the back of their heads . This shows that both Capulet and Montague boys are religious. Luhrman uses a variety of techniques. One of them is the role of media, he uses this very effectively. The headlines he uses are very effective and draw the audience in to the movie. It also moves the movie along by showing headlines, so the audience knows what’s going on.
At the beginning of the movie, when there is a news report the news reader tells us the headlines ,we are told what’s happened and, there are headlines from newspapers bought to move the and when the brawl begins at the petrol station, we see headlines to move the movie forward. This shows that the role of media is very effective as nearly everyone listens or watches the news or even read it. Luhrman uses a variety of music to represent the families. The music employed for the Montague boys is more funky and modern, therefore this shows there childlike and immature.
However in contrast with the Capulet boys there music is more cowboy like, this shows that they are mature also it shows that they are “outlaws”. At the beginning of the movie Luhrman uses religious music, he does this throughout the ostentatious scenes , to build up tension and to lure the audience in the movie, so that they feel they are a part of the movie. This shows that the music Luhrman has chosen is very effective because the music supports the image and the action. The characterisation presented by Luhrman shows that, the Montague boys and Capulet boys are very different from each other.
The Montague boys seem to be more child like and carefree, their clothing is very funky and bright, which shows that they are laid back. However the Capulet boys are very different to the Montague boys , as they wear black and look classy, they also go for the Latin look they have their hair gelled down unlike the Montagues who have it gelled up. Also the Capulet boys are mature, when they speak they speak properly unlike the Montagues who speak in slang language. However in contrast the Montague boys are more rebellious and out of control.
This shows that both groups of boys are very unlike from each other. Luhrman has used modern names to keep the film accessible to a modern day audience. Instead of having old fashioned names, he has given some of the characters modern names like Ted and Caroline, unlike Gloria. Therefore this shows that using, modern names make the movie even more contempary for the modern day audience. Symbolism is a big part of the movie, Luhrman uses ranked registration plates, to symbolise how important a member of the family is.
The Montague and Capulet boys have the same registration plates, which is MON/ CAP 005, this shows that both group of boys are ranked at the same position, it also means that they are quiet important in the family. Overall it shows both families rank each other depending on importance. Luhrman uses cars instead of using horses and carts to make it more modern. The cars which are used by the Montague and Capulet boys , are totally different from each others style. The Montague boys car is bright yellow and it’s a convertible.
This shows that they are fun loving people, and they are very open and have got nothing to hide unlike the Capulet boys who have got a blue car with tinted black windows, this shows that they are private people also, it suggests that they might have something to hide. Baz Luhrman uses a variety of techniques to get the camera angles right. At the beginning of the movie, when the television is on the television moves towards the audience which brings focus. In contrast to this at the petrol station, when there was an intriguing sign “Add fuel to your fire” the camera zooms in.
Luhrman also uses birds eye view from the helicopter , this is “authentic footage” with a shaky view. Luhrman’s use of snappy scene, whets your appetite for more of the film. This shows that Luhrman uses the right camera angles for the right scene. Which attracts the audience into the film, also the way he uses the camera angles make the audience, feel that they are apart of the movie. Baz Luhrman uses a variety of techniques which are symbolism, characterisation, religion and music to make his film effective. He does this to make his film “Romeo and Juliet”, more appealing to a contempary 20th century audience.
Luhrman’s use of camera angles is very effective, as he uses all sorts of angles to lure the audience into the movie. The way Luhrman uses ostentatious scenes, is intriguing , as it whets your appetite for more of the film. I thought the music was one of the interesting parts of the movie, as it kept me glued into the movie. Also I liked the role of media, as it kept me informed in the movie about what’s going on. In conclusion I think Luhrman has made “Romeo and Juliet” very modern and intriguing for modern day audiences. As a result of Luhrman’s hard work in making this movie, it was a box office smash hit.