The media piece I am writing about is Romeo and Juliet. It was directed by Baz Luhrmann and was made in 1996. In the film ‘Romeo and Juliet’, Luhrmann uses a mixture of sound and visual techniques to make a Shakesperian play appeal to a modern audience successfully. The original playwas written in 1595 and Luhrmann has put the play into a modern perspective for the days of 1996. In the story there’s two rivalling families, The Capulets and The Montagues, the two families vendettas had lived for a long time and the two rivals children, Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet, fall in love and get married, they find that they can never be together, Juliet pretends to take her own life but noone tells Romeo and he kills himself as Juliet awakens, she too kills herself. Luhrmann uses several key scenes to appeal to a modern audience such as, the petrol station scene, the ball scene and Mercutios death scene
This first paragraph is about the cast of the film, the cast has been well chosen for the film with Leonardo Di Caprio as Romeo, he was already famous for other film roles and brought a wider audiences attention to the film. Juliet was played Clair Danes who wasnt as famous as Leonardo Di Caprio at the time but she makes film more dramatic as she wasnt as well known and can show people how good and actress she is. the effect of casting these two young, attractive Americans was that a younger audience would want to see the film and a larger audience was created.
The prologue begins with an old T.V. in the middle of the screen with static on it, the camera then begins to zoom into the centre of the screen making viewers focus on the television, a news report then comes on with an American reporter and an image of a broken wedding ring behind her, the ring has Romeo and Juliets initials on it, the broken ring symbolises a broken relationship within the story, the reporter then says;
“Two households, both alike in dignity. In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, from ancient grudge, break to new mutiny, where civil blood makes civil hands unclean, from fourth the fatal loins of these two foes, a pair of star cross’d lovers take their lives.”
This is repeated twice more in a booming males voice, with flashing images of fight scenes and havoc from different parts of the film, some of the words the narrator says are flashed up on screen so that viewers can understand whats happening. The prologue is made to look like an action film with parts of the above quote on newspapers, there is loud operatic music in the background. The use of these things helps a modern audience understand how dramatically vile the vendetta between the two rivals really was because t.v’s and newspapers are identified easily as people use them everyday.
In the petrol station scene, The Montague boys are introduced, the song “The Boys, The Boys” is playing in the backgound and they are shouting and driving eratically, as they go to the petrol station, Romeos cousin, Benvolio, gets out of the car and the camera freeze frames on his face and gives his title and relation to Romeo.,to show viewers whos related to who and what side of the vendetta each character is on. The Montagues then begin to make rude gestures toward some nuns as The Capulet bpys roll in to the garage.Tybalt, Juliets cousin, gets out the car and westen style music begins to play the camera then freezes on Tybalts face and gives his title and relation to Juliet. The Capulet boys and The Montague boys then eye each other up and the camera cuts to western zooming on Tybalt and Benvolios eyes, Luhrman does this to give a dramatic effect to the audience about how tense the atmosphere is between the two families. The camera then cuts to a creaking sign saying “add more fuel to your fire” this tells the audience that there is going to be a fight between the families.As the two families begin to fight it becomes obvious why Luhrmann chose the setting of a petrol station because its flammable like the rivlary of the two families and is used everyday by the modern day viewers.
In the party scene, Romeo meets Juliet for the first time, before they met Romeo and the Montague boys met up at the beach with Mercutio, Romeos best friend, who appears dressed as a woman, Mercutio then gives Romeo a pil before going into the Capulets fancy dress ball. The camera begins to spin and blurry to show that Romeo is stoned/high. Luhrmann uses this camera method to let the audience try to relate to whats going on with Romeo, as the camera begins to spin faster Romeo lifts his head from a basin of water and throws his mask away to show that he isnt hiding himself anymore, as he looks at the fishtank, Juliet appears on the other side of the tank and Romeo immediately fell in love with her. At this point , the song “Young Hearts” is playing and Juliet is pulled away by Nurse to see her mother. As Romeo leads Juliet away from Paris the song “Kissing You” begins to play and the couple beging to kiss in the lift, this shows the audience that the film is about the true love of the two “star cross’d lovers”.
As Juliet leaves Romeo with her family, they realise that because of their families feud they can never be together, at this point the camera looks down at Romeo making him seem vulnerable and up at Juliet showing that he realises he can never have Juliet. The costumes in this scene speak for all the characters personalities, in the Capulet family, Tybalt is wearing a devil costume showing he is slick and a troublemaker, Juliets mother, Gloria, is dressed as Cleopatra showing she has lots of power over Verona. Juliets father was dressed as Julius Cesar which shows he is the ruler overVerona, Juliet was dressed as an angel, showing that she is pure and holy, the man she was supposed to marry, Paris, was dresssed as a spaceman to show he had his head in the clouds, then there was Romeo dressed as a knight in shining armour to show he is brave. All the costumes worn at the party reflect gratly on the characters personalities. Luhrmann uses this method to easily identify the characters to a modern audience.
In Mercutios death scene Luhrmann uses the mthod of pathetic fallency, this means the weather mimicks the mood or atmoosphere of the film, in his death scene, Mercutio is stabbed by Tybalt, as he dies he places a curse on both families as their vendetta has caused his death. In the beginning of this scene there is an extreme long shot of the beach, Mercutio is in centre shot standing under storm clouds, this shows something is about to happen to him. The Capulet boys appear wanting to see Romeo, Mercutio goes on to mock Tybalt, a fight then begins between Romeo, Mercutio and Tybalt in a derelict theatre, it all destabalizes quickly as Tybalt stabs Mercutio with a stab of glass, at this point Luhrmann uses pathetic fallency toshow that its a dark momment within the film as the storm begins to rage through Verona. Luhrmann uses this method also to show Romeos anger toward Tybalt by using Pathetic Fallency again making the weather deteriorate. The use of this method is to show the modern viewer how Romeo sees thigs and how he is feeling.
Luhrmanns aim with this film was to use a variety of visual and sound techniques to make Romeo and Juliet appeal to a modern day audience. Luhrmann has had great success with this as he has made a modern day audience enjoy Shakespeares works centuries after it was written by using techniques such as ‘Pathetic Fallency’ and ‘Extreme Long Shots’. As a member of a modern day audience, the audio and visual techniques added a sense of understanding and some areas of the film relateable, which made me enjoy the film further. The film taught me that the weather and music can really dramatise a scene, never to fight in petrol stations and that love can be found anywhere. In some ways Shakespears love story is still relevant in such ways as you can fall in love with anyone and that nothing can stop true love.