How does the director Baz Luhrmann make "Romeo and Juliet " relevant for a young audience if the 1990's, whilst still retaining the ideas of the play? Luhrmann makes his film relevant for a young audience of the 1990's but still manages to keep the ideas of the original play. He does this through his use of camera work, lighting, sound and music and his choice of costume location and cast. " Romeo and Juliet" is Shakespeare's second tragedy as well as one of his most well known plays. It was written between 1594 and 1596, and the death of the lovers is brought about more by fate than the character's characteristics and personalities. Baz Luhrmann recently said in an interview that " I've always wanted to do "Romeo and Juliet". The themes it explores, the tragedy that is born of a prohibited love in a world of learned hate is one of those primary myths that appeals to all people."
One way in which Luhrmann makes his film relevant for a young audience is through his use of camera work. At the films opening, the camera glides very slowly toward a television screen. The camera almost appears to enter the television screen and quickly moves through shots of Verona (the Italian city where the film is set) and the characters. On each character it freezes for a moment and displays his or her name, before moving through more shots of Verona. As well as shots of the characters and Verona the audience is also shown famous parts of the Prologue to "Romeo and Juliet" such as " From ancient grudge break to new mutiny". This makes the film relevant for a young audience because it would hold the audience's attention and would show a variety of elements to the film, such as the location, characters and cast and the basic story line. It is also a modern technique and Luhrmann did not want his version to look dated.
The use of camera work retains the original play's ideas because the original play started with a prologue, which gave the audience an outline of the story. Luhrmann retains this outline through his use of pictures or camera work as well as a prologue. Shakespeare's original prologue contained the words "in fair Verona"; Luhrmann's version also contains the words, as flashes that appear as white writing on a black background.
Luhrmann also makes his film relevant for a young audience through his use of lighting. During the party scene there is a great variation of lighting types and colours that are used. These include spotlights of different colours, the flashing light of the disco, and the softer yet almost fluorescent light of the fish tank. Luhrmann uses the spotlights by applying them to characters he wants to focus on or draw attention too. This makes the film relevant for a young audience because the use of bright and flashing lights draws attention to a character or plot line. Which helps the audience to filter through a busy scene and easily understand what is happening. The use of his kind of lighting can also create a dramatic affect or a contrast. A total contrast of this is further on in the same scene when Romeo and Juliet meet for the first time, by the fish tank. There only appears to be one light source in the room, the fish tank. This creates a soft light, which fades back into shadow. This again allows the audience to focus on the main characters with out any distractions. The soft light also creates the effect of peace and tranquility.
This use of lighting retains the original play's ideas because the party scene in the original play would have been a very tense scene. This is because of the growing tension between Romeo (who is a Montegue) and that Tybalt (a Capulet) after Tybalt discovering that Romeo has arrived at the Capulet party. At this time the audience is therefore wondering whether or not the tension will erupt into something worse. Luhrmann has used his creative use of lighting to capture this tense atmosphere and even develop it. He does this through the varied styles that are used such as spotlights and flashing lights.
A further way in which Luhrmann makes his film relevant for a young audience is through his use of music and sound. During the petrol station scene, there are many quick changes within the music to emphasize the changing moods of the characters and their situations. This varied use of sounds also helps to create a tense and dramatic atmosphere. This tense or dramatic atmosphere is shown when Tybalt says to his enemy the Montegues "Do you bight your thumb at us sir? " Among the other sounds used were screams; a sound usually associated with trouble or danger, creaks; another dramatic sound and gunshots; a possibly fatal sound associated with danger. These sounds are used because they all when used together create an atmosphere, which keeps the audience interested. In one part of the scene cowboy or western style music is used. This gives the scene the feeling that a showdown or fight is imminent. Also the music used is modern and by bands or groups that are popular with the younger audience. This makes the film relevant for a young audience because the music used is both modern and fast, which captures their attention and keeps them interested. The music used is also relevant to the age group, which enables them to relate to it.
This use of music and sound retains original ideas of the play because in the original play the scene was very tense and violent with the fight between the hose of Capulet and the house of Montegue. Luhrmann's version manages to retain that feeling of violence, drama and unease through his use of music and sound in the film. For instance in the film there are quick and contrasting changes in the music, which creates and maximizes the tense atmosphere. Another example of this atmosphere is when Tybalt shouts, "Do you quarrel sir".
Luhrmann also uses costume to shape his film so that it is relevant for a young audience. During the party scene, Luhrmann has tried to use different costumes for each character