Look at the opening sequence of Baz Luhrmann's film version of 'Romeo and Juliet'. Analyse this scene and discuss the techniques the director uses to convey his interpretation of the text.

Essay by DaSunwalker April 2004

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As soon as this film begins, you can immediately see that it is in a very modern context. The viewer is showed a television with a newsreader reading the prologue to us. Luhrmann wanted to make this film palatable for young viewers. To this end, he outfitted his characters in gaudy rock-and-roll leather-and-lace clothes, transported them from Verona, Italy to the seedy Verona Beach, U.S.A and piled the mise-en-scene high with Catholic imagery, drenched colors and punk imagery. He has used different techniques to modernise this film.

He has used sounds - natural and added, to add flavour to the film. He has added different music to represent the two warring families. He has added loud rap music to represent the Montagues as brash, loud and showy but then the music changes to spaghetti western to represent the Capulets as cowboys and gangsters. This might be his way of saying that the Capulets are old fashioned and the Montagues are more modern.

He used sound to reinforce the bad boy image of the Capulets by adding the tinkling of spurs on Tybalt's boots which don't actually have spurs. He added a whooshing noise for abrupt camera movements. The music is mainly choir music which has a religious signifigance.

Luhrmnann has combined three different genres. He used news, documentary and western. He used the news genre at the beginning where we are shown a newsreader reading out the prologue to us, documentary to show us how the third civil brawl erupted,what caused it, what happened and how it was finally broken up by the arrival of the police in their helicopters. A western genre was also used to show us the nature of the gunfight between the Montagues and the Capulets in the petrol station.

We are given the prologue...