Analyse how Baz Luhrmann has directed his film version of “Romeo and Juliet” Essay

Published: 2021-09-11 16:00:07
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In ‘Shakespeare in Love’ Tom Stoppard is trying to entertain his audience and show how Shakespeare made his plays in the 17th Century. Luhrmann is using Shakespeare’s play to create his own version of Romeo + Juliet for the 21st century lifestyle to appeal to young audiences mainly teenagers. ‘Shakespeare in Love’ shows us what life was like to be a playwright in the 17th century and trying to show how Shakespeare might get his inspiration. Both of them are trying to get their audience’s attention and make what some people think of Shakespeare as boring and make it into a funny and adventurous movie.
In the 17th century, life looked poor because there was no technology and they have to do most of their work by hand rather than doing the work with machines. Life looks rather bare, such as there are open sewers and they just throw their rubbish out onto the streets. Also their furniture is all made out of wood, which looked all pretty hard, and uncomfortable, there are few toilets and none of them had a flushing ability, and most of the time they used earth closets.
Pub yards were used in the countryside to show the plays to people. In the film there is the Master of the Revels trying to shut the whole thing down because he thinks it is immoral, so being a playwright was a bit on and off as they weren’t sure how much money they were going to make from one day or another. Some men had to dress up ass women on stage because women weren’t allowed on stage, so this was also costly because after their voice breaks they would have to get another actor.
The reason that most of the people went to the pubs was because it was all nice and warm in the winter. Shakespeare was not well off and the film suggests that sometimes he had no inspiration to work and that he needed a muse.
Men’s clothing was more elaborate then, than the fashion that we wear today: their designs were much more colourful and they wore leggings (Tights) and have striped clothes. Women’s clothes were simpler, they wore long skirts which wasn’t as pleasant as they might seem because they carried all the mud and dirt from the streets. Peasants wore very simple and rag clothes.
In ‘Shakespeare In Love’ there is the muse and the lover Lady Voila De Lessops. She wants to act and she is in love with Shakespeare, its mysterious. Although she wants to act, she knows that she is forbidden from entering the stage because back in those days they called it prostitution. This was not good for her dreams to become an actress. She plans to fulfil her dreams by dressing up as a male and getting a part in the play. We first see her (The camera pointing at her) in the theatre while she is watching a play, which she is into. This is where you first meet Queen Elizabeth and where you also see William Shakespeare. She is enjoying the speeches about love. She then turns to the left, where she sees Shakespeare and it seems like love is stirring.
When she auditions for the play, she recites a Sonnet, which was written by Shakespeare. Shakespeare hears the sonnet and chases after her when he says for her to take her hat off. I think that she thinks that he might suspect she is a woman, so she runs away. She gets a chance at being in the play, and with the nurse helping her with costumes, advising her and protecting her from any dangers which could be her mother or somebody else was very useful to her. She also wraps up her hair into a ball so she looks more masculine.
It appears that the people in the 17th century believed in magical things, such as Shakespeare putting his name in a bracelet and giving it to his apparent muse. Shakespeare was much obsessed with muses but his current muse had let him down.
Lady Viola is constantly being pursued by Lord Wessex, as he is in pursuit of marriage. He would like to marry Lady Viola, not only because he thinks that he loves her, but also because he had no money. He needed the money but he had a title. He had spent all his money on his plantations in Virginia. His title was intriguing to the father of Lady Viola because he had a lot of money, if he was to have a famous person in the family, than he would become more widely know to the public and they would appreciate him. Also Lady Viola would be married to an apparently great man and that there would be a lot of good having a great man because they would have more privileges. The father’s title will also be improved.
The ballroom scene where Lady Voila, Lord Wessex and William Shakespeare all are together dancing: is where Lord Wessex is talking about the marriage in a sort of hidden way, in such a way that Lady Viola has no idea. William comes in and starts talking to her as well. The two meet and Lord Wessex threatens him to stay away from her or die.
When they meet at her mansion (Lord Wessex and Lady Viola) she shows that she doesn’t want to marry Lord Wessex and Lord Wessex is going a bit too far by kissing her. But she has no choice in the matter because she cannot disobey her father’s will, and because if she refused, she would have nowhere to go because she could be thrown out of the house she lives in. She has met William and is in love with him. Wessex is very annoyed and uses force to get her to marry him. Lady Viola is rebellious by nature and she wants equal rights so that she can do all the things that she would like to do.
Queen Elizabeth is displayed in the film because she is a woman, and it seems like that she defends woman’s rights because she defends Lady Voila at some points. The plot shows notions of a ‘women’s place’ in society. The Master of the Revels comes to one of the theatres to close it down because Webster tells him that he saw a woman on the stage, He does this to get his revenge because he was excluded from the play and because he was also given money. He shuts down the Rose. The play seems to be at a close and everything is going badly. Lady Viola marries Lord Wessex because she finds out that William is already married and she isn’t allowed to divorce him at that time after marriage.
The hope of the play being shown had risen again because they were offered another deal at a place called ‘The Curtain’ and the play was on again. The day of opening was upon them and the play had all gone wrong. The man who played Juliet had lost his voice all of a sudden and the people of the play were in a desperate situation. There was no one to play Juliet. Juliet is then played by Lady Viola and when it comes toward the end, Lord Wessex is there, and the Master of the Revels is trying to close down the Theatre. He is trying to use what little power that he has left, but he is over reacting and is then stopped by Queen Elizabeth.
The queen is used at the end of the play because she is a woman and at the end she seems to be overpowering but fair. This is because she gives Lady Viola a chance and because she says that she had done the same in her time. It seems that she supports women’s rights and that she was a rebel in her days as well. The Queen also enjoyed the play because she stopped it from being closed down. She also said that she was right because of the way that Lady Viola acted, this was because she said that Lord Wessex would lose his wife at the playhouse. She says that she is powerful, but not powerful enough to grant a divorce between the married couple, Lady Viola and Lord Wessex. She asked Webster about if the play was good and he said a Kind of ‘yes’. The Queen asks a child because they are apparently innocent and truthful. Webster is a bit of a tell-tale and tells that Lord Wessex is in the room and at the end, the Queen makes him pay up the money which he bet, that plays could not show true love.
The recent film version of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ by Baz Luhrmann was created to make young audiences be interested in Shakespeare. Most people at a young age think that all of Shakespeare’s plays are quite boring, but Baz Luhrmann wanted to change this view of Shakespeare. He used Los Angeles because he thought that it should use a place with a Catholic community in it and that is what it had. The original ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was based in Italy, which was a Catholic country. Another reason was because the two countries were both hot and some of the fighting scenes took place in a hot area. The reason for this because heat can make people react in different ways, such as attacking people, because they are agitated. The reason why he used Leonardo Di Caprio was to attract teenage girls to the film; this was an excellent idea at the time because all the girls were wild about him. He also employs the use of gun fighting in a modern day way, compared to old-fashioned sword fighting in the original. I think that sword fighting would have been an adequate interpretation, but because the film was set in the modern days, they would have used other means of weaponry (Guns). Guns would attract a wider range of interest and show the image of the westerns.
The prologue, which is at the start of the play, shows a basic outline of what is going to happen. It is shown in a montage. The montage starts with a person revising the prologue and is zooming slowly in. It then goes on to a barrage of little clips. This montage is a total of 96 shots in a few seconds. It begins with tracking to the point in which you see a statue of Jesus. There are lots of shots of Jesus and they show shots such as, panning, close-ups, zoom outs, high angle shots, mid shots and long shots. The reason why they use Jesus a lot of the time is because this is a religious play. There are more shots, such as low angled shots of a helicopter flying over the Jesus statue. It then turns to a shot of the Jesus Church with the two family trees of the Capulets and the Montagues either side of the Statue. The shots also show a man being handcuffed on a mattress with a pan shot. There is a pan across the wheels of a limousine. The limousine shows wealth in the film. Another shot, which would be an important shot, would be the long shot of the church, in conjunction with the House of Montague and the house of Capulet. The reason that the two houses are near the church and each other is because they are in close contact with each other and that it is a religious place. They use the name Verona Beach because the story was at a place in Italy called Verona.
The montage is used to get a glimpse of what is to come in the movie and the fast music is to add to the increasingly faster pictures that you are barraged with. After the fast part of the montage, you will come across a few freeze frames, these frames are accompanied by captions, which tells you who the person is and who they are linked to. These pictures are not of the main characters, but it is to help you know who the people are when you see them in the film.
After this montage, it goes straight into the film where you are to see the tracking of a car with Rock style music being played in the background. This is to show the style of the people inside the car. There is a zoom in and this is where you see a closer view of the people in the car. There is a freeze frame with the caption ‘The Montague Boys’ because it is to show who the people are. A person inside the car is singing with the music, it shows that he likes the music and therefore shows that he is that type of person. They are wearing, bright Hawaiian shirts, to show that they kind of fit into the crowd.
They pull up to a petrol station where there is a close-up of their licence plate ‘MON 005’, to show that they are Montagues. Just at the same moment another car pulls up at the same petrol station, but on the other side, which is where a van is blockading the view, so they can’t see each other. The car grinds to a halt, where you see another close-up of a licence plate, but this time it is labelled ‘CAP 005’ after which a man gets out and there is a close-up and freeze frame on the man’s shoe, it has a caption which is labelled ‘The Capulet Boys’ It then comes out of the freeze frame and the man walks into the petrol station shop. This is like a Western film, where the man walks into a Saloon, after which the camera goes back to the Montagues. This is where you see one of them licking themselves, to scare off a nun and some students. The van then drives off and you are left with the two cars at each other, in viewing range.
The camera then turns to the Capulet car, where a man came out. There is a close-up on his shoe and tilting up towards his face where there is another freeze frame; this time with the caption ‘Abra, a Capulet’. Nothing is known about him, only that he is a Capulet. He then suddenly shows his teeth and makes an unfriendly noise towards one of the Montagues. On his teeth he has a silver gum shield which has the word ‘sin’ written on it. The Montague is scared and falls into the car. The Capulets start laughing at him; the Montague is slightly aggravated and starts talking about retaliation. He retaliates with an Elizabethan insult, which was to bite your thumb. Abra shows that he is angry, by pulling an angry face. He starts up his car and goes towards the Montague with speed. He is scared and tries to run away.
Abra is shouting at them and is annoyed, he starts saying, that if it was him that he was biting his thumb to. There is an over-the-shoulder shot of the Montague. He doesn’t know what to say but he asks the other Montague, then he argues to the Capulet and says that he is just doing it. A Montague comes out and there is a freeze frame with the caption ‘Benvolio, Cousin of Romeo’. Benvolio is the peace make, and when all the people draw their swords than he tries to keep the peace; by telling them all to put away their guns and pretend that this never happened. A woman, until the point he points his gun at her is constantly hitting one of the Montagues on the head.
The Capulet, had gone inside the Petrol station, and then had come out. He lights a Cigar and drops the match on to the floor and then grinds it with his metal boots. There is then a close-up of his face and a freeze frame, the caption reads ‘Tybalt, Prince of cats, Cousin of Juliet’ All of the Capulets are neatly dressed and wear stylish clothes and look presentable. He is out and Benvolio tells him to not do anything, but he replies with ‘Peace, I hate the word, like I hate a hell, all Montagues……. and thee’ There are extreme close-ups of both of their faces, interchanging while this is all happening. Also as he was speaking, a sign was up which said ‘Add more fuel to your fire’. This is to show what was to happen next, by this caption because of the keyword ‘fire’. After he has spoken, a boy is saying ‘Bang Bang’ in the background. Tybalt replies with this by getting his gun out and pointing it at the child, where his supposed mother takes him away, quickly.
This is when all the fighting takes place. Tybalt is fast and reacts quickly. He makes western poses and western music is being played. He is like a gun fighter, such as the ones in the western films. He uses all sorts of poses and spinning around, like a gun fighter. He takes his time and is very confident of the fact that he doesn’t have to worry because the Montagues are not a threat. All the time that this is taking place, you see no-one getting hurt at all, Tybalt just thinks that this is a game and that no-one will get hurt or killed. Benvolio, who was trying to make the peace, is a weaker person because of the way he acts. He isn’t as fast as Tybalt and spends most of his time on the floor.
There is a low-angle shot and fancy moves to make Tybalt seem bigger and stronger and then there is a high-angle shot of Benvolio on the floor, to make him seem weaker. Tybalt was spinning his gun around as he was reloading his weapon like a proper gunman. Tybalt was being shot at by one of the Montagues and he was spinning around, the sign which had ‘Add more fuel to your fire’, was being shot at by one of the Montagues who was supposedly aiming for Tybalt. This shows what was to happen next.
The Montague boys were on their way off in their car, leaving Benvolio there. Tybalt with extreme skill had taken his time and changed his weapon to one with a sight. He aimed for one of the Montagues, and as he shot you were looking through the sight as he hit the man. After this had happened, Benvolio was on the floor, dowsed in petrol, leading to Tybalt; Tybalt then dropped the Stub of his Cigar onto the petrol and it set alight. Benvolio managed to escape as he saw the flames heading in his direction.
After this part in the film, it turns to a television point of view, where you would hear the news and they were showing what had been going on. The camera went onto a close-up of Romeo’s mother and father. Who wanted to go and fight with them, then it showed a extreme close-up of the gun. But the wife kept the peace and was controlling him. It then went back to the fight seen where there was a long-shot of Tybalt and Benvolio, who were being targeted by a helicopter with a sniper in it (Low angle shot), It then went to Prince as he said, “Throw your mistempered weapons to the ground”. As he says this it goes to a long shot of Benvolio and Tybalt as they throw their guns to the ground. This was the end of the Gas station scene.
The genre in this part of the film was of an action type and western. This is all the types of thing that you would find in a fast paced action or western, which has a lot of moves and poses in it, to make it more appealing to young audiences. This is the type of thing that most people like, which is a good start to a play.

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