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Baz Luhrmann's Film Adaptation Of Romeo And Juliet

1621 words - 6 pages

Baz Luhrmann's Film Adaptation of Romeo and Juliet

Shakespeare's use of language reflects the theatre of his day. There
were no elaborate set designs, costumes, lighting or sound effects and
there were also only a small number of actors playing many different
parts. This could get confusing and therefore the language and imagery
had to do all the work for the audience, as the words were the only
tools available to help them imagine the scenes vividly.

In the prologue of "Romeo and Juliet", line number twelve; "Is now the
two hours' traffic of our stage" and the very last words; "our toil
shall strive to mend", have significant meaning. These sentences,
spoken by the chorus, highlight to the audience the key plot elements
to come. It gives the audience an idea of what they are about to watch
or read and makes the ensuing action more intelligible. This dramatic
convention therefore acts almost like a movie trailer. In Baz
Luhrmann's film adaptation of the play, the prologue begins with a
long shot of a television (within a television), with a reporter
speaking to us from inside of it. Behind the reporter's left shoulder
are the words "star-crossed lovers" and a symbol of a broken ring.
This, in the first minute of the play, already introduces us to the
fact that Romeo and Juliet are star-crossed lovers, which is a major
theme throughout the entire play. The news reporter then delivers the
whole prologue from beginning to end, before the camera zooms further
and further in until the point of extreme close up, at which point the
prologue changes. This is how Baz Luhrmann achieves a similar effect
to Shakespeare's dramatic use of the prologue. By doing this, it is
almost as if we are "entering" the movie and if you do not wish to "go
in" then it is your choice not to continue watching.

In the second sentence of the prologue, "In fair Verona (where we lay
our scene)", Shakespeare carefully uses the positive modifier "fair"
to describe the city. This emphasizes the fact that Verona is closely
associated with God, therefore establishing it as a peaceful, moral
city. However, this is contradicted by negative modifiers in the next
sentences of the prologue, which are "From ancient grudge break to new
mutiny, where civil blood makes civil hands unclean". This brings in
the fact that there is an old grudge between two families. However,
with this grudge there is blood shed and constant fights, some of
which draw in innocent civilians. In the movie this section of the
prologue is shot from a fast-moving helicopter. There is an extreme
long shot and an aerial view of Verona, which introduces us to the
town. A statue of Jesus is shown, immediately followed by the words
"IN FAIR VERONA", in large, white letters. Then, for several seconds,
there is jump cutting between the Jesus statue and the...

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