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During this essay I will look and analyse the opening scene from the movie Romeo and Juliet, the movie was made directed by Baz Lurhmann. The movie was made in 1997. I will discuss the camera usage, music, lights, events, settings and costume. The movie is cultural representation of the time with extensive special effects and expensive budgeting being used.
Baz Lurhmann produced Romeo and Juliet in a never seen way of representing Shakespeare, he uses a very clear, modern day Hollywood film and he conquers modern day issues such as age and gender (newsreader being black female with coloured people being discriminated against in Shakespeare’s time) to show a representation of the time, he develops Shakespeare in a way that could never be imagined. The events of the opening scene show the cultural objective, first the movie starts with a television coming closer towards the viewers, the newsreader is a black female, when the TV switches on the newsreader reads the prologue.
Once the prologue has been read there are quick flash shots of Verona including the Montague and Capulet buildings, then the prologue is herd again. After this the prologue is in newspaper form in the form of headlines, following this we meet the main characters of the movie this is done to remind us that the characters play roles and are not real. After we meet the characters the prologue flashes for the final time and finally at the end of the prologue the title of Romeo and Juliet comes on screen.
After the opening prologue has been said the camera takes us to the first scene it starts with the Montague boys in a car joking and laughing about the Capulet’s, we see the car with the number plate of the Montague family. They go into a petrol station and a short time later the Capulet’s enter the petrol station, then the two families notice each other and a after some teasing a fight breaks out with guns. The scene is largely over exaggerated using special effects and camera trickery. At the end of the fight the petrol ignites and the whole petrol station is on fire.
After the fight and unrest the Chief police officer describes the fight as a ‘civil brawl’ and ends with a threat that next time the peace is broken the cost will be their lives. The opening scene end with Romeo reminiscing about his life and realising from a news broadcast there was another brawl between the Montague’s and Capulet’s. The music used in the opening scenes is largely diverse and this helps to create a deeper effect of the scene and another effective dimension to the pictures.
The music used in the opening prologue is fast operatic, dramatic, loud and orchestral as it combines many instruments. The effect of this is to enhance effect of the prologue and attract the attention of the viewer, also the fast music is used to combine with the quick flashes of Verona that are used in the opening prologue. The first noticeable point in the movie is that the families are swoped round with the viewers being introduced to the Montague’s first, this is done because the families are better suited in this way which enhances effect.
When we meet the Montague’s the music changes and being played is rock music giving an image of ‘hard boys’ this is shown by the main line of the music being ‘the boys’, which signifies the character of the boys as we are introduced to them. The rock music used is modern popular music and gives an image that the Montague boys are childish and nai?? ve. When we meet the Capulet’s the music played is a cowboy and western style and this implies they are bad, powerful, sophisticated and quick. These two diverse music styles highlight the difference in styles and deepen the meaning to the viewer.
When the fighting starts the music changes again and becomes fast again which indicates the quickness of the shooting and gunshots, also to enhance the power of each gunshot. After the fighting scene is over when the Prince is talking to the two fathers of each family there is no music to highlight the serious mood and consequences of the brawl. When we meet the Romeo’s parents the music is by Radiohead and is softer and thought provoking. Another very diverse factor between the two families is the costume, when we are introduced to the Montague’s they are wearing colourful and vibrant clothes.
They are wearing beach style modern clothes, which are popular and common. The Capulet’s are wearing much darker and smart clothes with cowboy style shoes the clothes are of a Mediterranean, shark look and the Montague’s is a casual American style. Also another noticeable change is the Prince changing costume to a police officer this sis because a police officer has more control and authority in modern times and also shows another modern adaptation that the prince becomes a police officer.
The lighting used in the opening scenes is bright as it is during the day and is sunny. This makes the light natural and more effective and realistic, this shows another change as Shakespeare implies theatrics but Baz Lurhmann wanted to use a Hollywood style movie instead of a play in theatre. The use of natural light makes the audience forget that the film is a Shakespeare play. The camera usage and angles in the film are used to great effect and are used to enhance effect and meaning of the opening scenes.
There are many quick edits in the opening scenes these are used when there are quick flashes of Verona. Also the camera uses zoom to go closer to the characters and further out and this enhances effect and the image and power of the character. Also the character speeds up and slows down this coordinated with speed of the scene, during gunshot battle the camera speeds up as the firing is quick. Close ups of the camera are used to enhance the image of the character. The close-ups are used on a Capulet’s boots, to characters faces, to buildings and to the petrol station.
Also there are many close-ups of a sign in the petrol station, which said ‘add more fuel to fire’ which highlights the meaning of the brawl as more hatred was added between the two families. Other camera devices used are freezes for characters, which is used to remind us they are characters. Another way the camera is used is the camera panning; this is used to pan over characters, the city of Verona and the petrol station. This is used to focus different things on the same scene.
Another camera usage device used is low angles and this is done to show the viewers where the power is this is highlighted when the camera first shows the Capulet’s boot first and this shows the Capulet’s are powerful. Also another very revolutionary camera trick as the viewer is put in the eyes of different characters. The quick edits in the play coincides with the quick music and the camera panning coincides with softer music. The effect of different camera shots is it draws in the viewer and seeks their attention.