There have been, throughout time, countless new versions of William? s Shakespeare “Romeo and Juliet”: Nevertheless, Baz Lurhmann directed a very modern version of this famous play, replacing daggers by guns and horses by cars, and even more. The main reason and advantage of the modernization of certain scenes is to lead to a clearer meaning and a better understanding of the story. First, the director emphasized the situation or the feelings of the characters by using modern means such as fireworks for an intense party or guns or fire for hate.
This is even more clearly shown in the elevator scene, where Romeo and Juliet go hide to kiss, the elevator symbolizing the fact that they want to be away from the others and forget about the world. Also, the costumes during the party give us a clearer idea of the characters? personalities and roles: Juliet, as an angel, is represented as innocent, virgin and pure; Romeo as a masked knight is hiding from the Capulets and is Juliet? s savior; Tybalt, disguised as a devil, is evil and full of anger, and finally, the prince is represented as a policeman throughout the whole movie, in order to emphasize his authority.
Another modern way to express more clearly the character? s feelings, apart from Shakespeare? s dialogs, are the songs, which set rapidly the atmosphere of the scenes, because of its music, and its explicit lyrics. For example, the song “Kissing you” sets a romantic atmosphere. On the other side, some of the modernization takes away from the play, and I think Baz Lurhmann used to much vulgarism in his movie, which can make it look sometimes ridiculous and exaggerated, and made the spectator feel a little disappointed.
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For example, the presence of drugs, and shocking costumes or dances, such as Mercutio? disguise and performance during the party, was not necessary for the understanding of the story. Also, Friar Laurence doesn? t seem as wise or pious as in the play when he is sleeping in the middle of his plants, with a flowery shirt. Finally, the fact that Juliet shot herself in the head at the ending scene seems like a more violent, bloody and hard way to die than by the dagger in the play, which is a more “ romantic” way to die. As a conclusion, the modernization of William? s Shakespeare play brings a lot to the story, but also takes away some of its original romanticism, which is replaced by vulgarity.
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