Baz Luhman and a More Accessible Romeo and Juliet to a Modern Teenage Audience

Baz Luhman and a More Accessible Romeo and Juliet to a Modern Teenage Audience
Romeo and Juliet was written during the fifteenth century and the language and style is Elizabethan. Today the language is seen as incomprehensible to a young audience. This can cause many problems because Shakespearean texts are compulsory for students to study during their education. Usual responses to Romeo and Juliet are very negative as teenagers find the story inaccessible. However the essential storyline could be aimed at a young audience with themes of forbidden love, violence and family feuds.
Therefore the main problem facing Luhrmann?s film was not the plot but the language. Luhrmann?s film interpretation of Romeo and Juliet compensates for the setbacks produced through language because Luhrmann has enclosed modern day scenes, clothing and music to create a more exciting and enthralling film, whilst still using the original Shakespearean language from the text. This makes Luhrmann?s adaptation of the play very different from other versions on the market. It shifts away from interpretations such as Zefferelli?s, which does not meet teenage desires. The way in which Luhrmann has gone about altering Romeo and Juliet means that the film is more appealing towards a younger generation and therefore is targeted at the people who wouldn?t normally be interested in Shakespeare. This is because the action, violence and style used by Luhrmann, gives teenagers something to relate to, as it includes something which many young people are interested in or something which they have encountered. The first impression of a film is very important to the audience and Luhrmann had to grab the audience?s attention at the start in order to keep viewer interested throughout. Therefore the opening scene of Luhrmann?s film is very fast moving in places, with links towards other genres of film. Music also plays a big role, but the main feature is the mixture of modern day elements contrasted with the Shakespearean language. The scene opens with a yellow open-top sports car. The frame freezes to show that the people inside the car are ?the Montague boys,? this is done in the style of a Sergio Leone Spaghetti western. The car is driving along an American highway and enters a gas station. Here the Montague?s encounter the Capulet?s also in a sports style car. A brawl starts between them and guns are used. Luhrmann has linked the guns with the script by inscribing the word ?sword? onto the guns, this allows the line ?put up your swords? to remain in the film but also means that the modern plot is not lost. As the scene continues Benvolio falls to the ground as the Capulet?s try to shoot. Abram and Balthasar then hastily drive out of the gas station trying to avoid getting injured but leaving a trail off petrol behind them. Tybalt gets ready to aim at them while they leave, dropping his cigar in the process, this then lights the petrol making the whole gas station go up in flames. Benvolio then gets up and runs across the bonnets of cars across the highway to escape. This is where the scene ends. One of the ways that Luhrmann introduces the characters is through their clothing and style. The Capulet and Montague families are easily recognised and separable by their own familiar appearance. The Montague?s are shown as pranksters, wearing open Hawaiian shirts and having a relaxed attitude. Their image makes them appear as not fighting characters, whilst the Capulet?s come across as the more violent due to their dark clothing and cowboy style. This makes us think of the Capulet?s as scary and intimidating whilst the Montague?s come across as nervy and more amusing. This means that the audience automatically constructs opinions of the two families, helping to make the film more easily understandable and to reinforce the plot. The music also has a similar effect by changing the mood of the film. In this beginning scene there is a use of mainly modern day music, which is fast moving to reflect the pace of the scene. The music also changes a lot to represent different actions and characters. The main example of this is the music which is played in association with the Montague?s and Capulet?s in this scene. The music played when the Montague?s are on screen is a type of hip-hop and this contrasts with the music played when the Capulet?s are on screen, which is of a western style which yet again connotes an image of film ?baddies?. Sound effects also enhance the scene; many of the most powerful sounds effects are used for actions made by the Capulet?s. The sound of Tybalt?s metal heels against the concrete of the ground is a good example of this because it is very effective at building the tension because it sounds very menacing when used alongside the western style music. Other sound effects include Tybalt throwing his match on the floor and crushing it in with the heel of his boot. Both of the sounds mentioned are emphasised by volume and close ups. Close ups such as this are part of the cinematic devices used by Luhrmann to give and fast pace which makes viewing more exciting. During the scene there are many fast zooms close ups on feet as this is one of the main ways that Luhrmann introduces the Capulet?s. There is a great deal of speed change throughout the scene including some brief slow motion but mainly evolving fast pace clips. Shakespeare is known worldwide, therefore there is a very stereotypical response about his work mainly due to language barrier. Younger people in particular are very cautious at approaching his work because they find it hard to understand and are consequently not interested in studying his texts. Luhrmann?s version of Shakespeare?s Romeo and Juliet is very unlike other interpretations. He uses an upbeat pace in modern day times, whilst still using a Shakespearean text. The style of Luhrmann?s film includes connections to western films and current issues in order to challenge traditional responses to Shakespeare. Elements such as these help a younger audience to relate to the film and the themes within the plot. This means that the audience is more likely to enjoy the film. I think that the way Luhrmann?s has introduced a mixture of modern day scenes with Shakespearean language works very well together and successfully interests teenagers to the story of Romeo and Juliet. However in some parts, I felt that the way in which Luhrmann distinguished between the Capulet?s and the Montague?s was too extreme, as their styles were very different and I thought that the music was not necessary when they were already easily identified. I felt that the first scene was very appealing towards teenagers, especially boys, due to the fast cars and violence, which are two things commonly known to interest them.

Baz Luhman and a More Accessible Romeo and Juliet to a Modern Teenage Audience 7.2 of 10 on the basis of 1302 Review.