How do Baz Luhrmann and Shakespeare engage the audience and set up the themes of "Romeo and Juliet" in the opening scenes?

Essay by LondonsBurningHigh School, 10th gradeA, February 2006

download word file, 5 pages 2.0

"Romeo and Juliet" is one of the most romantic tragedies ever written. Inspired by Arthur Brooke's narrative poem "The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet", which was published in 1562 just fewer than thirty years before Shakespeare transformed this famous story into a dramatic piece of theatre. Two star-crossed lovers, in love but against the ethics of both their rivalling families.

Shakespeare's play is set in around the 1300's in Verona, Italy, Adhering to the concept that conflict is the essence of drama, two rivalling families disturb the peace of exotic Verona. Five days is all it takes for these two lovers to fall madly in love, then, realising their relationship is forbidden, they take their lives in a dramatic and tragic series of events.

Shakespeare was running one theatre company, which was open to, most often, rich theatre going Londoners. He had to look at the resources he had and the class of people.

Shakespeare had an easier job to do than Luhrmann. Luhrmann had to look at pleasing millions of people all around the world, each with their own beliefs and religions, each being of a different race. Which would mean having to centre his movie/production on a wide range of people. Shakespeare just had to accommodate one race, one religion, and one belief.

Luhrmann's movie version of Romeo and Juliet is set in a modern, lively and exciting city. On the fictional Verona Beach, the story is essentially the same, except the appeal to the audience is different because huge movie stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes play the two main characters, Romeo and Juliet. The film comes with the memorable, Shakespearian inspired tagline "My only love sprung from my only hate" which gives us an idea of some of the key...