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Shakespeare uses a prologue at the start of his play for a number of reasons. Firstly, it acts as an introduction to the story. We learn about the rivalry between the two families, ”Ancient Grudge” it also makes clear that it is a tragic story of two ”star – cross’d lovers ” who are destined to die because of their families hatred. The prologue is like the opening to a film because both need to grab your attention. The setting of Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is in the west coast of America, in a setting, which he calls Verona Beach.
However this is not true as the beach’s real name is Venice Beach but the reason why he uses this is because it reminds everyone where William Shakespeare actually set the play, he set the play in Verona so by changing the name he has made quite a remarkable thing by making sure everyone knows where it is set. The other reasons why he filmed ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in the west coast of America is because Los Angeles is a big city just like Verona and because there is also a lot of violence and gangs in Los Angeles just like Verona.
The types of film Baz Luhrmann used in the prologue are TV news style footage showing you how much of their fighting is causing their city to be more violent, as well as this they are trying to say that what is happening between the Montague’s and the Capulet’s has an effect on the rest of the city. By doing the prologue, as TV news footage is a clever thing to do, as it is an original idea and by doing it in this way it will keep the audience hooked to the rest of the movie. Another reason why Baz Luhrmann used TV news footage is because it shows the violence in Verona.
When the camera shakes, the jumpy effect makes you think the violence is real and also is very dangerous. This makes the audience hooked to the movie. The director uses a voice over to read out the prologue. The actor reading the prologue played the priest. The priest Friar Lawrence is appropriate because he knows both sides of the story. His voice is deep, sorrowful and sad. His tone of voice is meant to be serious so everyone will be influenced by what he says about the circumstances surrounding the storyline and take him seriously.
Also by making the priest read the prologue it shows that he is aware of the situation surrounding both the families and the effect it has on the rest of the city and the seriousness of the situation. Not only did they use a voice over, they used captions with bold letters and people shouting to grab our attention. This keeps us hooked and willing to watch the rest of the movie. He says this in a deep American accent, although as we know, he is not really an American but an Englishman.
Luhrmann uses some interesting shots in the opening sequences, such as close-ups, because it is important as it shows their facial expression and the body language used, making it more realistic and interesting, thereby attaining the interest of the audience. He also uses long shots (establishing shots) to show the whole city from the helicopter as it gives an overall view of what is happening in the city as a whole, focusing your attention to different parts of the city.
He uses medium shots because it is ideal for introducing characters as it concentrates on how they appear on first sight and the impact they have on the audience. He uses high angle shots so that you can see what is going on like a birds eye view, showing a character in proportion and comparison to the rest of the city. He also zooms into the statue of Christ and the two buildings to show how important they are and to make them stand out from the rest of the city, by attracting the attention of the audience and thereby making them focus on the zoomed objects, giving them the utmost importance.
He also uses fades and cuts. Fades are when the scene goes black. Fades are to close the scene and go on to another part of the story. Cuts are used to show what may be happening in another part of the story, maybe at the same time of the scene that has just been showed. He also uses freeze frames. One example of a freeze frame was in the scene of the Montague boys, when the characters are still for some time. He also uses wipes to speed up the scenes from the film.
The reasons he used these effects could be because they make the story faster and more intense, and tries to show how different the atmosphere in certain scenes are. Baz Luhrmann used operatic and church music as well as dramatic and religious music, because they all tie in with ideas of fate etc. This music is ancient like the families and the story. When the Montague boys come they have different music. They use rap style music to show that they are young and modern and part of a gang.
Luhrmann uses different sound effects like gunshots, fires, helicopters, brakes and loud music when they show the Montague boys. The reason why he uses these is because this is meant to be a tense city with a lot of violence and by showing it like this he is to make the audience feel like it still happens in modern times. The director uses images and symbols to focus on emphasizing peace and religion. He uses a statue of Christ because it shows everyone what it represents. The statue represents peace and refers to the Catholic religion.
By doing this, they are trying to make the viewer think that Verona needs peace. He also emphasizes on the two towers, because they show the rivalry between Montague and Capulet and the wealth of the families. It also represents both families having a say about what happens in the city. He also uses fire as a symbol, as fire represents danger, death and hell. Everything that is happening in Verona is due to the families. He also uses passion as a symbol, because as we know, passion is the theme of the story throughout as both ‘Romeo and Juliet’ are madly in love.
In conclusion, it is clear to see that the director is trying to open the play up to a more modern audience such as teenagers. He has made it appealing to the young target audience by hiring young attractive actors to play Romeo and Juliet. He also uses flashy equipment such as guns and cars to make the story appear more modern and to try to attract the young audience. He also uses different music to show the personality, e. g. when the Montague boys come, the music changes to rap music, as they are young and modern. Lurhmann also uses different styles like exciting visual tricks to attract their attention.