How successful was Baz Luhrmann's appropriation "Romeo and Juliet" compared to the original play by William Shakespeare

Essay by misty_angelHigh School, 11th gradeA-, May 2004

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Baz Luhrmann's film, Romeo and Juliet, is very successful as an appropriation of the original play by Shakespeare. Transforming the pre-16th century play into a contemporary popular culture film was done creatively by keeping the same values and language, but changing the context. This is illustrated by the use of anachronisms. For instance, daggers and swords are replaced by guns as well as cars stand in for horses. The disputes between members of the two families (the Capulets and the Montagues) evoke associations with multi-ethnic gang warfare. Their feud reflects the behaviour of mafia families. Using these modernising elements, he achieves an appeal to the contemporary teenage audience and the changes in the film create a more comprehensible meaning to the audience because people can relate to it better and this is why the film is so engaging.

The film is set in a modern day city where violence occurs regularly.

In the opening scene, a television screen is in view and a news reporter is talking. This immediately allows people to realise the time period which the film is set in. Then there is a sequence of scenes which includes shots of scenery, people fighting, newspaper articles and loud string music is played in the background. There is a lot of editing and cutting in this sequence which makes it move very fast. The next scene is where the Montague gang is at the petrol station. Loud upbeat music is played in the background. The loud music and bright coloured costumes represent the life of this city. The use of guns and convertible cars contribute to the contemporary atmosphere. The film techniques include using a handheld camera which creates a "realistic" effect. This is used in the sequence of different shots where there is fire and helicopters...