Qs: What are the main ideas presented in the text? Discuss how language, film techniques and structures are used to convey these ideas and views to the responder.Romeo and Juliet. The name drifts our thoughts to one of the most renowned and famous Shakespearean plays in history. It is one of the greatest romantic tales, which has been made into various film versions, each for very a different audience.
But even then, the main story line and ideas presented by the films remain the same.The latest and most appealing version for young viewers is the Baz Luhrmann version. The amazing director has given this world- known love story a modern- day twist. He has targeted teenagers and young viewers, so has made massive changes to the script. E.g. the setting is in a modern city near Verona beach instead of Fair Verona, the costuming is made modern too by dressing the Capulet’s in suits giving them a chic gangster look and the Montague’s in casual Hawaii shirts giving them a punk image.
The movie has been transformed in Luhrmann’s style while still retaining its original dialogue. Luhrmann has mainly made these changes to the film for his targeted audience who are only interested in excitement, action, love, drama, brilliant plots and something that they escape in from reality.The film’s modern and rather stylised style is enhanced by its astounding film techniques. Fast- paced shots, rapidly changing camera angles, loud and fast pop and rock music; all these are used to draw the audience to the nature of the beautiful, classic tale. By replacing orchestral and authentic music (used by old versions like the Zefferelli version) with the new rock, Luhrmann aims to draw the audience’s interest as much as possible.He starts the film by a TV documentary, a woman talking about the conflict and feud between the two families, fast- paced shots of the Capulet and Montague family territories. His style is fresh and full of action throughout the whole movie.
Especially in the initial fight scene between the boys from both families, Luhrmann only has to use an urban street gang context to deliver the requiredviolence, tension and trauma. He chooses his setting in a petrol station, that being the most appropriately dangerous and flammable place, putting the whole town at risk if fire. Fast cars with roaring engines replace horses, guns stand in for swords and daggers and the resulting hybrid background is startling yet fascinating. The magnitude of the hatred between the two families is conveyed during this scene and because the play focuses on the feuding families and the desire, Romeo and Juliet have for each other, time changes, prop changes, action and scene changes does not really disappoint the audience, in fact it does the exact opposite. Television and media images are used throughout the film to reduce the Shakespeare lines and make it virtually more interesting for its targeted audience. A fine example is the Death scene.
The setting is a beautifully lit church, which is symbolizing heaven. No music but the use of silence is used to heighten the intensity and suspense of the drama. In the part where Juliet shoots herself, the chilling sound of the gun against dead silence has an incredible effect on thing. Again the Shakespeare lines have been taken out and the visual techniques are used to convey the same message. Luhrmann has tries to make the situation as romantic as possible and put emphasis on the beauty of their short romance rather than show the causes of the suicides. This is followed by a montage of scenes from their relationship to show the emotion and pain.Luhrmann shows that through death they are joined and their love still lives on and that love has conquered death.
All this is shown by the use of dramatic modern music, silence, visual effects, fast- paced shots, rapidly changing camera angles and rapid zooming. The use of symbolism and impressionism is also used to draw the audience. In the scene where Romeo gatecrashes the party, everyone is dressed up in a costume that symbolises what they really are. For example, Juliet is dressed as an angel and Romeo as a knight. Other characters’ costuming also represents their part or personality.
E.g. Tybalt is dressed as a devil and Mercutio as a woman (possibly showing homosexuality).
The film is high- paced (the camera never being still!) The film has passion but also has enough action and excitement to attract audience who might not understand Shakespearean language.Even though the script is highly edited, the main themes and ideas in the film remain similar. The film enlightens themes such as the value and strength oflove, consequences of hatred, consequences of feuds and valuing what other people and your family want for themselves. Themes play a strong part in the original story as well as this movie, the most notable ones being love and fate. For example, there is Romeo’s obsession with Rosaline and the arranged marriage of Paris and Juliet but then Romeo and Juliet’s pure love is developed.
On the other hand, the ancient grudge and feud between the two families, and showing that rash and passionate acts are foolish and dangerous are the main ideas presented in the Luhrmann as well as the Zefferelli version. Though Luhrmann has changed the setting, time, era and made it more stylised and modern, the story of the star- crossed lovers remains alike. An interesting prospect of the film is the language. Where some people’s curiousity arouses is the question that why the film still retains its original dialogue even though the rest of the film is rationalised and stylised. The answer is quite obvious, the beauty of Shakespearean language is unique. It quite takes the ripeness out f the story if the original dialogue is taken out. It is thus reasonable to see that the retaining of the dialogue creates an effect of alienation and contributes to the ‘other-world’ atmosphere of Verona Beach and also satisfies the Shakespeare fans.The Baz Luhrmann’s masterpiece also portrays Romeo and Juliet as an allegory for the late 20th century, whereby Verona Beach is an exaggerated picture (or caricature) of the violent atmosphere of our time as well as serving as a representation of love and conflict.
Although this is a story which has been told many times before, Luhrmann keeps the ideas fresh, mainly by using a mixture of fast editing and cleverly choreographed fight scenes. Right from the dramatic beginning to the tragic ending, Romeo and Juliet will keep you captivated. This is evidence to Luhrmann’s brilliant film directory. His ability to keep the audience wanting more is no more apparent than the ending. You would have to have been living under a rock, for the last 100 years to not know how Romeo and Juliet ends.
But Luhrmann manages to keep the audience hoping that this time it will be different.In conclusion, though certain aspects like the setting, era are changed and the script is highly modified, the film revolves around the same ideas and serves as a classic example of the power of and beauty of love. Other aspects like the language or dialogue still remain the same. Luhrmann just uses the required action, film techniques, drama, excitement that is needed to draw his target audience. And in many people’s opinion he has succeeded in a very skillful and clever way.