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The Day of the Stage Is Over

By:   •  July 12, 2013  •  Essay  •  785 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,338 Views

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How can a Shakespearian play written over 400 years ago still relate to modern audiences today? The simple answer is it can't.

Good afternoon Miss ________ and class

In Baz Luhrmann's fast tracked film version of Romeo and Juliet his development of themes and representation of youth allows a contemporary audience to better relate to the famous love story than if they were to only imagine it through the dialogue of a centuries old play. Luhrmann's use of a contemporary setting, cultural references and his portrayal of characters are what undoubtedly makes this film more relevant than the original script.

In the film, the director, utilizes a modern city buzzing with cars and guns and alive with extravagant parties, as the setting for the love story. In the opening scene, men of the Capulet and Montague households engage in a gun fight at a petrol station, rather than a sword fight outside a castle. Luhrmann's use of this modern environment rather than an old one, serves the purpose of enabling people to more easily understand the story. Many people today regard gun fighting in cities as a normal act of violence, as it is often seen in the media, rather than people fighting with swords, therefore they are able to focus on the real story of the families' feuds instead of focusing on the medieval ways. To relate to his modern audience, Luhrmann also restages Act 1 scene 5 where Romeo and Juliet meet, into a wild, excessive, costume party as an alternative to a subdued masquerade party. This restaging better connects with viewers as many can more easily imagine an erratic party scene with extreme guests than a masquerade. Luhrmann's contemporary setting plays an effective role in making a story which may aswell have been written in another world, relate to modern day people.

Luhrmann also uses cultural references such as drug use and intimacy, both of which are social practises associated with today's youth, to make the film more relevant to modern audiences. Many of the youth in the film, including Romeo and his friends, take ecstasy tablets which are symbolic of madness. This in many cases parallels with modern youth, where drug taking among young people has become naturalised in society. Luhrmann also creates representations of youth by increasing the level of intimacy between Romeo and Juliet. In the original script, after the masquerade party, there is the all famous balcony scene in which Romeo and Juliet romantically speak to eachother in poetry. In contrast, in the film, Romeo and Juliet end up kissing in a pool below Juliet's balcony. Today physical intimacy is considered a normal part of young romantic relationships and therefore these love scenes have been used by Luhrmann to connect with his contemporary audiences.

Many of the characters in Romeo and Juliet have been portrayed by the director


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