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Review on the Opening Scene of Baz Luhrmann's 1996 Take on Romeo and Juliet

  • Date Submitted: 03/09/2011 12:05 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 51.3 
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English Media Coursework

Review on the opening scene of Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 take on Romeo and Juliet

We all know the story of Romeo and Juliet, and even if you haven’t read the book many of the romantic films we see today use the general themes behind Romeo and Juliet to create a basis on which they develop the plot i.e. Destiny, deceit, separation and so on.

Baz Luhrmann’s challenge was to create an opening scene that captured the poetry and beauty of the original prologue but also suitable and understandable to the modern day audience... the very thought of this “creation” set my imagination wild and I just prayed that we didn’t get another West side story.

We are introduced to the movie by a newsreader on a TV, the newsreader acting as Shakespeare’s narrator. It is here too, that we are introduced to the notion that instead of having a bad postal system like Shakespeare did, Luhrmann uses our modern media to act as the medium for news to be spread. An example of this later would be where Romeo finds out about the party from Mrs Capulet, on TV. This one shot lasts thirty seven seconds although we zoom in towards the television and then zoom through the television screen to the next scene..
The bid to make sure everyone could understand the language comes into effect when we again hear a male voice reading the Prologue, while periodically words such as ‘In Fair Verona’ and ‘A Pair of Star Cross’d Lovers’ flash onto the screen to place emphasis on important pieces of information. We are also introduced to the leading characters using close up shots which come to a freeze frame. This is almost a cast list created with pieces of footage found later in the film. We also see skyscrapers with Montague on one side of the street and Capulet on the other side, this could symbolize the divide between the two families. Newspapers are used here again to show the feuding families have a history.
There are approximately 80 shots including titles. Most of the...


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