In the film _Romeo and Juliet_, the director, Bas Lurmann, decides to take Romeo and Juliet out of Renaissance Italy, and put them in the semi-modern fantasy world of Verona beach. It's not really an up dated version, because it doesn't take place in modern America. It's not based on any time period at all, but rather a fictional M.T.V. style world.Despite being in a new setting, Lurmann chooses to use the exact same words which Shakespeare wrote. It makes for an interesting combination, bridging the Renaissance with what is closer to today's society. There are many examples of how this fictional world is shown to the viewer by the director.
The first example is the way Lurmann substitutes modern looking guns for the swords and weapons that Shakespeare used. He wanted to keep the same dialogue from the original script, so he had the characters still refer to the weapons as swords (even though they were guns).
What Lurmann did was show close-ups of the guns where the viewer can see written on the guns names like ".45 sword" or "longsword" and best of all the small gun says "dagger".
Another example is the updated scenery. Instead of an antique Italian city-state, he puts it in a hip beach town surrounded by tall sky scrapers. The beach set is used to show all the rebellious teenage acts. It is here where Horatio is killed by Tibolt. Another piece of scenery is the towering buildings of corporate Verona. In the beginning of the film, Lurmann shows two huge skyscrapers standing tall over the beach and the rest of the city. One skyscraper says Montague, and the other says Capulet. In the original play, Romeo and Juliet's parents (the Montagues and the Capulets)are the richest two families in town. They have huge houses to symbolize their power. In the modern version of the film, Lurmann adapts the tall skyscrapers to symbolize the power of the two families, in a corporate and more modern fashion.
Instead of using the instruments of the seventeenth century as Shakespeare would have done, Lurmann puts a hip modern soundtrack to the film. The soundtrack has songs from such contemporary acts as Garbage, Everclear, The Cardigans, Radiohead, Buttholesurfers, etc.. By putting in this new music it not only gives _Romeo and Juliet_ a new look, but also a new sound.
These changes have made a play which high school students typically find a chore to read, come to life in a new exciting way. The same students who complained about having to read the play in school, willing payed $7.00 to see it in the theatre. It just shows that Shakespeare's Old English style of writing may be outdated, but with proper direction, his great tales of tragedy and wit still captivate audiences around the world.