Analysis of Baz Lurhmann's Romeo and Juliet

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Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

Shakespeare’s most celebrated and distinguished play has been modernised in the year 1996 into a movie with its director as Baz Lurhmann. The writing of this play is credited to William Shakespeare since the movie maintains its original script. The screenplay credits go to Craig Pearce and Baz Lurhmann. The main characters of this movie are Leonardo Di Caprio who plays as Romeo and Claire Danes who plays as Juliet. The film has a number of supporting characters namely; John Leguizamo as Tybalt, Harold Perrineau as Mercutio and Pete Postlethwaite as Father Laurence. Romeo and Juliet's production and presentation history unveils that all-round tales that doomed love in ease surpass not just space and time, but means and class. Romeo and Juliet has been narrated, for example, as a musical comedy regarding interracial relationship set in New York's Upper West Side, as an intimate drama set in an only boys’ high school military academy, and as an extremely compressed play-within-a-play that demands the cast to perform the text in almost under ten minutes. Romeo and Juliet was distributed in a wide release in theatres in the United States of America on the first day of November 1996, by 20th Century Fox, and generated around one hundred and forty eight million dollars worldwide. This was the most lucrative Shakespearean embracement in the world then, until now.

Plot Summary

Romeo and Juliet met and made it with at a party, but since they come from households that despised each other, they were certain they would not be permitted to amalgamate in marriage. Nevertheless, helped by Friar Laurence, they wed in secrecy instead. Unfortunately, prior to the night of their wedding, Romeo murders Juliet's cousin in a duel, and later on in the morning he is compelled to abandon her because if he will be put to death if he ever makes a return to that city.

Juliet's parents force her to marry Paris. Her parents have no idea she is already married to Romeo. In the beginning she declines to marry Paris but later on agrees to as part of her plan to fake her death so that she can be with Romeo forever; again with the assistance of Friar Laurence.

Frair Laurence, the man behind this plan, gives Juliet a sleeping potion .Juliet appears to be dead and was buried in a tomb. However, Romeo has no idea of what Juliet and Frair Laurence are planning. He visits his wife’s tomb not knowing she is still alive and goes ahead to commit suicide. When Juliet wakes from her deep sleep she discovers what Romeo did and kills herself.


From beginning to end the director tries to use contemporary film techniques to re-create a seventeenth century play into an alluring movie for the modern day audience. The start of the film has been carefully utilized by the montage to assist the audience in understanding the prologue. One example of this is when the montage is used whilst the narrator talks about “the break to new mutiny” he reels in violent pictures to pass on its meaning.The director puts to use images of a headline from a newspaper to show tension between the two families. The director employs use of special effects and a montage to bring a better meaning of the prologue.

The thought of a young man falling in love with a young girl at first sight, and to be ready to give his life in the name of love, would be so hard for a modern audience to understand. Baz had to ensure of that his audience could comfortably welcome the idea of Romeo was a miserable hope for affection and Juliet being so inexperienced and innocent she could fall for Romeo so easily. Baz shows these believable traits when Romeo and Juliet first appear in the movie. When Romeo is shown for the first time, he is sad. He smokes while writing poems strolling aimlessly. The cameras zoom in on Romeo’s melancholic expressions. Baz uses these scenes to bring out impressions of a man who upset. Not long after this moment in the movie Juliet is shown being a young woman with a naïve character. Her father’s scene is zoomed into when he talks about Juliet being a stranger to the world, which shows that she is innocent and could be seduced with ease. In other shots, close-ups are done on her make-up less face a trait that makes her more innocent. By using modern techniques, he could allow his audience to believe that love at first sight between these two people was possible.

When they first met, a large blue fish tank separates them; it is calm and serene and it gives the effect of romance. Romeo and Juliet’s faces are zoomed into to assist the audience get an understanding of the deep love both characters have fallen into being ripped apart by their households. A crucial moment that sparks this fury is the discovering of the secret marriage. This is soon known by Juliet’s brother who in his anger searches for Romeo but is only met by a fight by a close friend of Romeo’s. He brings the audience’s attentiveness through employing cinematic techniques. He uses low angle shots, fast moving cameras, special effects, slow motion camera shots, close ups, and music to bring a sense of suspense and thrill from the action shots. Tybalt hates Romeo and takes his anger out through a fight. At that shot he is confronted by Mercutio. The director chooses to create a blurred vision effect by having the camera move quickly between the two enemies. This creates confusion amongst the scuffle to mimic the experience. The camera closes up to show. Tybalt stabs Mercutio with a glass. This moment is slowed down to make it theatrical and show the seriousness of Tybalt’s actions. Low angle shots are met by Mercutio falling on the floor and shouting: “a plague on both your houses” Baz uses low angle shots to underline the importance of his words. At this moment a thunder storm comes and the camera angles change and go above the heads of the people below. The use of pathetic fallacy and the proposal that these actions are being judged by a higher power, both merge to assist the audience understand the Shakespearian language. By using the weather to show the characters feelings the importance of his words are amplified. Romeo is met with emotions of revenge and anger, which made him kill Tybalt. In conclusion Baz had vividly made his movie approachable and easily understood by a modern audience. He clearly used many cinematic techniques at points where the meaning of the characters was important to be understandable by his audience. His ability to make two characters that could fall in love so easily was amazing. Even if it would seem crazy to a modern audience, Luhrmann still managed to pull off the believability, by using modern film techniques, such as the use of props (Romeo smoking and writing poetry about love). Additionally, he even used close up angle shots to emphasize the essence of dialogue speaking of Juliet being still a stranger to this world. Luhrmann did a perfect job of emphasizing important points, creating symbolic meanings, creating believable characters and enrolling a religious aspect to the film without losing audience acceptability.

September 25, 2023

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