Imagine the fast moving all action pace of ‘The fast and the furious’ and combine that with the romance and tragedy of ‘Titanic’ and you would have just a few aspects of the Baz Luhrmann remake of William Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’. Prepare yourself to be slung into the middle of all the action from the very beginning by the sheer imagination of the century’s old play set in the modern day, yet the Shakespearian language fitting perfectly into the 1990’s setting.
Not only has the setting been changed from Venice to Miami, but even some of the storyline, exchanging swords for guns and the meeting place in the beginning from the market place to a petrol station.
The prologue which originally would have been spoken by a chorus is expressed by a news reporter who appears on a television screen in a blank background, at first the television appears miniature and gradually expands to the entire width of the TV you are watching on, and so drawing you in with it. From then on your eyes don’t leave the screen except perhaps to blink! The prologue is repeated four times, twice verbally and twice visually. By both hearing and seeing the prologue it helps you to understand the Shakespearian language with greater ease.
Romeo Y Julieta Baz Luhrmann
After the prologue you are hit by the opening titles, the characters are introduced visually using still images and printed character names. The camera flickers around different views of the city , and a series of fast moving images taken from the film are flashed before your eyes, fusing these images and dramatic music prepares you for and exiting yet traumatic film.
You can tell from the onset which family is which just from the clothes that the boys of the separate families wear. The films costume designer had a tough job on her hands trying to differentiate the families as they were “both alike in dignity”.
The Montagues, the family of Romeo played by the gorgeous Leonardo DiCaprio wear distinctively coloured Hawaiian shirts, have skin heads and show off their tattoos .The Capulets, the family of Juliet played by the beautiful Claire Danes on the other hand have an entirely different dress code they are far more decorative with expensive clothing and are accessorised with designer labels, belts and boots.
The opening scene is one of great talent and skill in every way from the actors to the director, right down to the skill and precision of the special effects. With gunshots, fire and fast cars, combined with cheesy spaghetti western music and Jacki Chan Kung foo sounds this scene is one of the most exiting, exhilarating and humorous in the entire film.