In what ways does a film open up a Shakespeare play to a wider variety of meanings, and in what ways is film a limiting factor? Discuss with reference to ROMEO and JULIET

Essay by SarahLUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, May 2004

download word file, 8 pages 4.0 4 reviews

Downloaded 109 times

Paradoxically, Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet, incorporates ideas which provide a wider variety of meanings whilst also making us aware that film can be a limiting factor. The creation of new dimensions for principal characters opens up the text, to a wider variety of meanings. However, by spending time developing central characters, the Shakespearian text is drastically cut and many characters and themes are lost

This film version does much to portray both Romeo and Juliet as different to and in a sense, alienated from their own families. Although the text requires the pair to choose between their family hatred and their own love, Luhrmann chooses to promote a sense of 'otherness' from the very start of his film. This is highlighted by the contrasting physical appearance of the other characters. For example, in the opening scene (1.1) we are witness to a brawl at a gas station between 'The (Montague) Boys' and the Capulets.

Rather than use costume to differentiate between the opposing families, the characters are divided by race; the Montagues portrayed as white skinheads whilst the Capulet counterparts are Hispanic, with Lord and Lady Capulet ; Italian. In contrast, the characters of Romeo and Juliet are not so easily labeled by their physical appearance.

The Capulet party (1.5) provides another example of how physical appearance is used to set apart the characters of Romeo and Juliet, whilst at the same time using costume to visually fix the characters. Using the setting of a costume party allows an opportunity to 'dress' the principal players in a way that simplistically embodies their supposed character. As is evident throughout the film, the majority of the characters are portrayed in garish and visually confronting costumes that seem to reflect aspects of their personality. For example, the portrayal of Paris...