Shakespearean Film. Essay

3990 words - 16 pages

CONTEXTUALISING SHAKESPEARE. CONSIDER THE SHAKESPEAREAN FILMS OF ANY DIRECTOR ON THIS COURSE IN RELATION TO HIS/HER NON-SHAKESPEAREAN WORK. WHAT PREOCCUPATIONS EMERGE?This study will look at Luhrmann's 'Red Curtain Trilogy' in order to answer this question. His trilogy is comprised of three films made over the last twelve years: Strictly Ballroom, William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge. Luhrmann has created a new form of cinematic expression, defined by a theatricalised, participatory form. As in other films, there are rules and conventions to be followed in order for the picture to be described as 'Red Curtain Cinema'. The story has to be set in a heightened and created world, for example, Strictly Ballroom is set in the stylised world of competitive Ballroom dancing. Another convention of the 'Red Curtain' cinematic form is the story. It must be based on a recognisable story shape - like a myth or a fairy-tale. Also, and perhaps most importantly, it is 'audience participation cinema'. The audience need to be aware that what they are watching is not real. The created world and use of familiar narrative techniques aid this alienation. Luhrmann believes that the audience needs to engage with the devices used in the film in order to participate in the viewing experience. "Once you agree that you're always watching a movie, you're happy to accept a moment of high comedy, then tragedy - then break out into song". These conventions of 'Red Curtain Cinema' are going to provide some of the structuring principles of this discussion. There are also other preoccupations that emerge through the analysis of these three films. Luhrmann utilises ideas of the postmodern in his films, especially in Romeo + Juliet. At this point, it becomes necessary to define what this study is going to assume is meant by the concept of postmodernism. Postmodernity is a globalising post-industrial world of media, communication and information systems. It is a market-orientated world of consumption with a fragmented and pluralistic community of heterogeneous groups with diverse cultures and lifestyles. This world is what Luhrmann recreates and distorts when he creates the worlds of Sycamore Grove and the 'Moulin Rouge'. Eminent sociologist, Jameson provides us with the most salient stylistic features of postmodernism. These can be seen in all three films. One of the features is the erosion of "key boundaries and separations" in society, and particularly the high culture/popular divide. Diversity becomes a value in itself. In the postmodern world, pastiche and alliteration become the forms of aesthetic organisation. The postmodern and 'Red Curtain' cinema emerge as fundamental preoccupations in Luhrmann's work.Luhrmann creates a heightened world in Romeo + Juliet by clashing different images and décor from the twentieth century. This world is a mixture of Californian and Hispanic, Venice beach and Mexico City. Sycamore Grove contains images from the 1920's to...

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