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How Does Baz Luhrmann Make Shakespeare's Play Fresh And Appealing To A Contemporary Audience? (Analyse The Opening Scene In Your Response)

1697 words - 7 pages

Baz Luhrmann's interpretation of "Romeo and Juliet" (1996), which has been created for the modern audiences, explores the themes and values which are topical to the contemporary viewer. In doing so it has gained a reputation for as one of the most successful adaptation. In order to achieve this, Luhrmann has intentionally emphasized key aspects of the original Shakespearian script and has combined this with modern filming techniques, something the Elizabethan directors could not use. In the opening scene a number of central themes become apparent these include the violent feud and growing hatred, religion and media and its role in a society, foresight and impetuousness, the role of parents and children, and finally immaturity as opposed to maturity. To emphasize these ideas, Luhrmann uses film techniques such as camera angles, props, lighting and audio as well as the original dialogue from the script. Baz has also edited out some of the irrelevant themes of the play as he sees fit.The most outstanding theme in the opening scene would have to be that of hatred and violence. Baz Luhrmann has gone to great lengths in emphasizing both the meaningless of violence and the destructive consequences of hatred if left to develop. The initial line in the scene is "a dog of the house of Capulet moves me," which is brought to the foreground from the script, eradicating the preceding sexual innuendos. Luhrmann has decided to do this so that the main focus of the scene is on the feud between the houses and not the puns of Shakespeare, which may not be applicable to the modern society. The road rage evident in this opening sequence of shots and dialogue, "king urinal, go rot", which is not present in the script, is also added by Luhrmann to make a comment on the needless violence in our society. He also uses the motif of fire through out the film, to symbolize the manifestation of hatred and the destruction caused by it. This is seen explicitly in the opening scene, in which fire, representative of the hate and violence, consumes the whole scene.With his explicit use of actions and symbols, in order to represent his interpretation of the play, (e.g. the spaghetti western auditory and visual themes) Luhrmann has made the actual language of Shakespeare obsolete. This has occurred to such an extent, especially in the opening scene, that the audience does not require the dialogue to understand what is going on. This suits a contemporary audience as they maybe unfamiliar with the Elizabethan language. The prologue also contributes to the focus placed on the feud and violence, with the repetition of key words such as "ancient grudge", "civil brawl" and "new mutiny" using newspaper headlines, and the montage of chaotic images, foreshadowing the upcoming scene. Furthermore guns, which are recognized as a symbol of violence is also apparent while more subtle props, such as the signs "add more fuel to your fire" and "shoot forth thunder," also add to the emphasis.Further...

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