An Analysis of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet

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An Analysis of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet

Baz Luhrmann’s William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet did not get a warm reception from the literary and film critics of today. Many feel that he cut out too much of the words which lessened the character development and original connotation that Shakespeare intended. Even worse, he compromised Shakespeare’s integrity by giving in to the demands of the American teen pop culture. These critics have a point. Luhrmann takes out anything that does not speak to the current audience. He understands that in his time, Shakespeare wrote his plays to entertain his audience, writing within the context of his culture and using “sexy and violent elements” with “boisterous comedy and passion”(Hamilton 120). The Elizabethan culture understood the puns, the references to gods, and even the language that we find so archaic. Luhrmann approaches his new version with the same intent. He wants to entertain his audience with the timeless love that Shakespeare renders and tries to “reclaim the play from its association as rarefied and stagy(120). The one mistake he makes keeps critics on his heels: the title of his movie assumes that this IS Shakespeare’s play just placed into the 1990s. The fact that he takes out much of the original text and even twists it in order to fit his play speaks to the idea that this is Luhrmann’s version of Romeo and Juliet. Luhrmann’s version tells the audience that Shakespeare’s love is timeless, not the actual play. He reshapes Shakespeare’s text in order to speak to the 1990s audience. This essay will attempt to decipher the differences in Shakespeare’s and Luhrmann’s versions in order to find the cultural influences which form each play. It should also d...

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... 1996: E6.

Hamilton, Lucy. “Baz vs. the Bardolators, Or Why William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet Deserves Another Look.” Literature Film Quarterly. Vol 28 #2 (2000):118-124.

Hulbert, Dan. “Beware: Bard’s Armed, Dangerous.” The Atlanta Journal and Constitution 1 Nov. 1996: 14P.

Millar, Jeff. “Classics Revisited; Energizing Romeo and Juliet.” The Houston Chronicle 1 Nov. 1996: 1.

Shakespeare, William. The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. The Norton Shakespeare. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1997. 872-939.

Walker, Elsie. “Pop Goes the Shakespeare: Baz Luhrmann’s William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.” Literature Film Quarterly. Vol 28 #2 (2000): 132-137.

William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Dir. Baz Luhrmann. Perf. Claire Danes, Leonardo DiCaprio. 20th Century Fox, 1996.

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