Essay question: Baz Luhrmann's visually appealing and confronting film successfully modernises Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.
Baz Luhrmann's visually appealing and confronting film successfully modernises Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Through the effective use of colour, lighting and camera angles, the atmosphere is intensified and the audience is transported into the action. Luhrmann presents social decay as the main catalyst of the tragedy, deliberately exaggerating the violence and hatred permeating Verona to challenge us to critically assess society and our values. The film presents two main causes of social decay; the loss of authority in society and the manipulation of religion to hide guilt. Through the juxtaposition of love and hate, Luhrmann conveys that love is too fragile to survive in a society overridden by hatred and violence.
Colour, lighting and camera angles have been successfully employed to visually convey atmosphere and emotions. Luhrmann focuses on visual images and uses contrasting colours to highlight the deep and intense love between Romeo and Juliet. In the swimming pool scene, where their love blossomed, a rich blue hue dominates the screen. The reoccurring motif of water becomes a symbol of the purity and innocence of their love. As the fairy lights reflect off ripples in the water and illuminate the lovers, it creates a magical and sacred atmosphere. The audience is mesmerised by the unfolding love as the whole screen is consumed by Romeo and Juliet. In a secluded cocoon amidst the hatred and violence, water nourishes and cleanses their love. We feel their love is elevated to a new level as Romeo sincerely replies, "th' exchange of thy love's faithful vow for mine."" The next shot of their underwater kiss, immortalised by the blue water, lingers in the audience's mind throughout the film. The blue colours and water in the swimming scene is a stark visual juxtaposition to the barren, isolated desert in Mantua.