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In What Ways Does A Film Open Up A Shakespeare Play To A Wider Variety Of Meanings, And In What Ways Is Film A Limiting Factor? Discuss With Reference To Romeo And Juliet

2099 words - 8 pages

Paradoxically, Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet, incorporates ideas which provide a wider variety of meanings whilst also making us aware that film can be a limiting factor. The creation of new dimensions for principal characters opens up the text, to a wider variety of meanings. However, by spending time developing central characters, the Shakespearian text is drastically cut and many characters and themes are lostThis film version does much to portray both Romeo and Juliet as different to and in a sense, alienated from their own families. Although the text requires the pair to choose between their family hatred and their own love, Luhrmann chooses to promote a sense of 'otherness' from the very start of his film. This is highlighted by the contrasting physical appearance of the other characters. For example, in the opening scene (1.1) we are witness to a brawl at a gas station between 'The (Montague) Boys' and the Capulets. Rather than use costume to differentiate between the opposing families, the characters are divided by race; the Montagues portrayed as white skinheads whilst the Capulet counterparts are Hispanic, with Lord and Lady Capulet ; Italian. In contrast, the characters of Romeo and Juliet are not so easily labeled by their physical appearance.The Capulet party (1.5) provides another example of how physical appearance is used to set apart the characters of Romeo and Juliet, whilst at the same time using costume to visually fix the characters. Using the setting of a costume party allows an opportunity to 'dress' the principal players in a way that simplistically embodies their supposed character. As is evident throughout the film, the majority of the characters are portrayed in garish and visually confronting costumes that seem to reflect aspects of their personality. For example, the portrayal of Paris as a space cadet, reduces his character to a rather simple and idiotic representation, looked upon as a figure of ridicule by both Romeo and Juliet. In contrast, the costumes of both Romeo and Juliet are simple yet telling, Juliet is dressed as an angel, with Romeo; a knight in shining armour.As in the text, Romeo is removed from the fighting of the opening scene and when we are first presented with his character on screen, it is not only his physical appearance that is in stark contrast to that of his compatriots. The disparity between the excessive and somewhat idiotic behaviour of the Montague 'boys', serves to highlight the portrayal of Romeo as a creative thinker, as some kind of poet. His character is first introduced in the very act of 'composing' a poem whilst sitting alone on a beach. As he writes, a voiceover allows the audience the opportunity to gain a glimpse of Romeo's inner thoughts:Why then, O brawling love, O loving hate,O any thing of nothing first create!O heavy lightness, serious vanity,Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms... (1.1.167-170).This technique is repeated when Romeo is exiled to Mantua, another scene of...

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