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William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

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William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet

In 1594, William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet took to the stages of London by storm. Nearly half a millennium later, in 1996, a man named Baz Lurhmann brought the play to the cinemas. Lurhmann, the director of the feature film “Romeo and Juliet”, had modernized societies’ greatest literatures of all time. Romeo and Juliet paints the journey of two lovers and the obstacle they overcome to be together. Belonging to two quarrelling families; Romeo from the Montague family, Juliet from the Capulet family, faced many hardships in their plight. The film closes with the tragic death of the two “star crossed lovers”. When looking at the film techniques used in opening and ending scenes of Romeo and Juliet and how they attract a modern audience to Shakespeare’s play, one cannot go ignore the musical aspects, the camera shots and the important symbols used in the film. Music is an ideal medium for portraying the emotions and actions in the film whilst camera shots put life into the captured images. The symbols and visuals used in the film hold purpose and add meaning to a particular aspect of the story line.

Music played a significant role in both the opening and closing scene of Romeo and Juliet. It was used to establish mood and atmosphere and to match the emotions being portrayed by the action. At the same time it aroused an emotional response from the audience. In the opening scene, many parts of the film were pieced together to form a summary of the events that will happen in the story. This was accompanied by very loud, very fast paced classical music. An obvious factor into this choice was to create suspense and to keep audiences on the edge of their seats, eager to find out what the story is about. The less obvious reason is that that particular piece of music chosen for just that particular part of the film was to establish the mood of the story, in this case fast paced and loud music sets the mood for a dramatic story. In the ending scene where Romeo and Juliet finally take their lives, the audience can hear music being played with a harp. Harps are related to symbols of peace, in this case, the harp leaves the ultimate message that in death, two star-crossed lovers find peace. By creating suspense, setting moods and emphasizing on messages, music will captivate a modern audience to Shakespeare’s play.

Throughout the film, one can identify the various types of camera shots and angle shots used to enhance the films effects and further make an appeal to the modern audience. In the beginning scenes, the setting is determined with a long shot that features the buildings of the city. There are also close-ups of the individual members of the Capulet and Montague family. Either the face, shoe or gun, these close-ups reveals a trait of the character or object. For example; the close-ups of the number plate on the Capulet and Montague cars was the first clue that revealed the identity of the two families. The close up of a gun used by the Montagues had read “Sword 9mm”, in other words the gun is the metaphor for swords. Thus camera shots had helped to establish the transition from the 16th century to the 21st century (modern times). Close ups are also extremely common in the closing scene of “Romeo and Juliet”. The audience can see that there is a close up of Romeo’s face when he entered Juliet’s burial chambers. The audience can see that his face is full of emotion; it showed fear and sadness within them. In a later close up of his face, the audience can see the tears that had formed. At this stage they cannot help but to feel sorrow and pity towards the couple. There are also many high angle shots of Romeo and Juliet lying on Juliet’s deathbed. One in particular is the high angle shot

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