Context has influenced the presentation of some of the main themes and issues in Baz Luhrmann's modern film version of Romeo + Juliet.

Essay by woot789Junior High, 9th grade April 2009

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It is through the portrayal of the variety of film genres and cinematic film techniques that conveys some of the universal themes, love/hate and tribalism family feuding.

The thematic issue of love/hate has been influenced through the use of specific social context and class structure in Luhrmann’s film. From Shakespeare’s original play, Romeo and Juliet are presented via a sonnet in their first conversation at the Capulet party, which was a popular poetic convention for the audience in the Elizabethan Era. Shakespeare represents and indicates Romeo and Juliet’s love for each other through the simile “It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night, as a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear” has the effect of Romeo expressing his love. Also, by making the audience of two different levels, one where all forms of special context and order breakdown and the other where Romeo and Juliet is the centre of the universe.

On a different level, the use of contemporary cultural context has influenced the presentation of tribalism family feuding in Luhrmann’s modern film version signifying the corruption of traditional values and attitudes along with the distortion of the American Dream. In the Capulet party scene where Romeo and Juliet first meet, Luhrmann introduces his audience to a contemporary and decadent (wild and untamed) world. With the use of slow motion point of view shots, it conveys Romeo’s drug induced state. In addition, Luhrmann has arguably made use of an element of modern society’s recreational use of drugs to make his film more abrupt to the audience. The idea of one of Romeo’s fatal lines “Thy drugs are quick” at this point reinforces his altered and vulnerable state manipulating the presentation of contemporary cultural context. This society is publicised as a corruption of traditional values driven by power, money...