Task: Compare interpretations of character in a film version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet with your own views after you have studied the text. In my essay I will explore character interpretation of Baz Luhrmanns’ modern adaption of the playwright “Romeo + Juliet” by William Shakespeare. Just from the title the modernisation of the play can be given away quite successfully, with the “+” sign in between the Romeo and Juliet; this indicates that the title is a “trendy” adoption of its definition, a slang recognition, which teenagers [the target audience] use a lot.
To begin with the prologue in the film shows immediately that the story is modernised and everything has changed to today’s way of life [for the benefit of younger audiences]. The prologue begins with a TV screen at a distance with a the TV screen beginning fuzzy without a signal and then picks up a news report taking place, the prologue is read out by a news reporter with the TV screen zooming in closer to the screen gradually, the prologue automatically gives you a sense of a tragedy in the making with words including “death”, “death-marked”, “rage”, “fatal”, “blood”, “foes” and “grudge”, from this point onwards the introduction begins.
Parts of the opening scene on the video are extremely fast moving with flickers of the surroundings including the two houses – Capulet and Montague – separated by a statue of Jesus Christ, probably showing that religion is the only thing that keeps harmony amongst the two houses. The use of zooms and glimpses of scenes of police cars, fire etc are shown to illustrate that there is fury between the two families and this makes you think that something disastrous is going to happen and the opera music in the background also adds to this effect a great deal.
The use of text on the screen is very effective. The text appears in flashes on screen, and then it gets faster. This adds to the effect of tragedy and that the tension is rising. From this, the first scene opens with the Montague boys driving down a road and pulling off at a petrol station to most likely refuel, shortly after the Capulets pull up. The Capulets are portrayed as gangsters and they come across as more tougher and violent.