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Critical Analysis of the Opening Extract of Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet

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Critical Analysis of the Opening Extract of Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet

Baz Luhrmann has used the three presentational devices in a specific

way in his film 'Romeo and Juliet'. The point of this essay is to

analyse them in the opening extract. The presentational devices are:

sound; mise en scene; and cinematography. The elements of mise en

scene are: why things are placed where they are; what the characters

are wearing; body language and facial expression. Sound is quite

obvious but there are many different types: Diegetic is sound which is

heard as part of the film world; non-diegetic is sound which we do not

recognize as part of the film world; parallel sound is music which we

expect to hear as part of the film alongside the image and

contrapuntral sound is when the music is in contrast to the film. The

elements of cinematography are to do with the camera such as; angle

and height. Cinematography is a primary tool with which the viewer

responds to the mise en scene. All three are closely linked together

as the director hasn't got the choice of not using them but does have

the choice to select how to use them.

The first presentational device, mise en scene, is seen in the scene

where the news reporter reads the prologue. The director has

positioned the reporter within a television set which shows us it's

going to be a more modern film instead of the older, more traditional

version like Tchaikovsky. This also suggests the story is over and we

will be experiencing the events in a flashback. The scene is very

measured as the director has been very deliberate in how the reporter

uses body language, facial expressions and costumes t...

... middle of paper ...

...nd uses the diegetic

noises like cars and helicopters along with the non-diegetic sound of

the voice over. These and the parallel music create a sense of urgency

and fear. All three together form a profound and strident scene which

couldn't be produced with just one of the devices.

The success of Baz Luhrmann's use of presentational devices is huge.

Although the story of Romeo and Juliet is an old and aged film,

Luhrmann engages the audience with a dramatic, romantic love story.

Consequently the film is immensely successful and undoubtedly most of

it is down to how he considered mise en scene, sound and

cinematography. Naturally this essay couldn't include all scenes from

the opening extract but there are the main ones down. Overall the film

is overawing, overbearing and overflowing with hatred, rivalry and

love.
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