"Romeo & Juliet", was written in 1599 by William Shakespeare and is one of his most famous plays. It has been performed thousands of times since it was originally written. The play is an Elizabethan tragedy of 2 lovers, "Romeo and Juliet".
In 1997, Baz Luhrmann directed a modern remake of this same play. He has made the film accessible to a modern audience and developed an appropriate atmosphere. The film begins with an extreme long shot of a television, and the background noise of a video playing. A news-style reporter appears on the screen and begins to read the chorus.Instantly, the viewer becomes familiar with the news-reader, making it accessible to a modern audience. Also, the newsreader is communicating to the viewer in a very conversational manner.
As the reader reaches the end of the chorus, it appears to suck the viewer into the screen. Synchronized sound is also used at this point as a fast forward sound is played. As the film progresses we cut to an establishing shot of modern "Verona", the camera very rapidly zooms in as if travelling down the street of a modern city. This common site familiarises the viewer with the surroundings.This is very effective as we instantly can relate to the; skyscrapers; cars and traffic of a modern city. These features help make the film accessible to a modern audience yet again.
Also, this establishing shot makes it very clear we are in Verona, despite not being the traditional Verona of Italy. At the end of the street we see the statue of "Christ"; he is portrayed to be looking over the two key families of the story. This is modernised in one main way. The two families are represented by towers; one stating "Capulet"; and the other "Montague".At this point I think the atmosphere is made appropriate to the scene via the music, in a very dramatic choral style. This very effectively builds up tension and excitement within the audience.
Yet again the camera zooms in, but this time on the statue's face. Almost instantly there is an extreme zoom out and a cut to a "Verona beach patrol" police car. Following on from this the camera pans with a slightly blurred effect. This "blurring" of the screen makes it accessible to a modern audience, mainly because it is meant to represent a CCTV camera, or police video.This variety of camera is so common in this day in age, that the viewer is instantly familiarised with the film.
There then follows on several shots of statues, they are filmed in a very rapid motion with the camera cutting quickly from statue to statue. This adds excitement and apprehension for the audience encapsulating their interest During the next section of the film the chorus is repeated, but this time with a "voice-over" by "Pete Postlethwaite". This is reinforcing what we have already been told and reminding us of the chorus.This is very effective; mainly because of the speed the film cuts between shots means it is easy to miss something. As the chorus continues to be read, a still picture of a family tree in a newspaper like fashion appears on screen. As this happens the camera begins to zoom out as the shot dissolves into a mass of flames.
Almost instantly the flames fade into another newspaper with the headline "Montague vs. Capulet". These flames combined with the headline symbolises antagonism, death and destruction.These last two features are something we are very aware of in our modern society, making it very accessible to a modern audience and also creating an appropriate atmosphere for the rest of film. Following on from this synchronised sound is used, as the voice-over reads "in fair Verona"; it appears clearly in black ; white on the screen.
Continuing on from this the same technique is used for the words "ancient grudge" and also "new mutiny". The way that the director has used several ways to portray the chorus makes it very accessible to a modern audience as it ensures we know exactly what it is saying, by reinforcing information.By this point the "voice-over" repeat of the chorus has finished. The camera begins to pan round then abruptly cuts to a shot of the police chief's face; then a shot of the word "police"; and finally a shot of a scene of violence, death and destruction. Soon after the camera continues to pan but this time across a mass of posters on a wall. During the next section of the film a "credits-like" theme is used, flashing a freeze frame of a character with a sub-heading of their name underneath.
Firstly the "Montague" parents are shown.The camera freezes and then cuts to the "Capulet" parents. These are portrayed with more detail for example: a medium close up is used to show their faces which appear very distressed, possibly even scared. This part is made accessible to a modern audience by showing flashing lights.
The view will most probably instantly connect this sight with police or even emergency services, both of which were not around in Shakespeare's times, making it both an appropriate atmosphere and very modern. This way of introducing characters continues for various other key characters in the film.Accompanying this filming is a very dramatic choral music, awakening the viewer and drawing their mind to the film. The music builds in volume ; intensity as a similar style of music did earlier in the section, increasing the suspense and anticipation in the film. Seconds later from these credits several small clips are shown from the film. Including the firework display from the banquet scene.
Following this yet again the chorus is portrayed but yet again in a different way. This time it is flashed across the scene in words. This reinforces the chorus yet again, similar to that of a film trailer.Whilst providing a brief overview of what will happen but not ruining the story.
Then the background music undergoes a Rullentendo, bringing the mood and pace right down. The camera then rapidly zooms towards a cross. Then instantaneously a "Romeo and Juliet" title appears on screen as if announcing the beginning of the film. In summary the film has been made accessible to a modern audience using items and features we recognise and can relate to, for example; the newsreader; the modern city; helicopters; and so on. Secondly, the use of repetition and the variety of the delivery of the chorus.The use repetition is incredibly effective, as it constantly reminds us exactly what is being said both through auditory and visual effects.
The director has effectively used both sound and special visual effects to create effective atmosphere throughout the film. In parallel with camera effects, throughout the film the atmosphere has been made appropriate using five main features. Firstly the consistent atmosphere of: conflicts; violence; and war between the families. Secondly, the effective use of music which is written in a very choral, classical and yet modern style.The way it picks up pace builds tension and excitement until the climax. As mentioned above, the news-style reporter is very familiar to us.
Finally, the use of a modern futuristic setting really builds the atmosphere of intrigue. It gives the impression of a Gangland scene between the two families. In my opinion, this section has been made both accessible to a modern audience and used an appropriate atmosphere. Thus Baz Luhrmunn has successfully achieved his aim, to make a Shakespeare play understandable to a younger audience, more modern audience, by bringing the story into a modern and more easily relatable environment.