How and why does Baz Luhrman s Romeo and Juliet update the characters and themes for a modern audience The ball scene starts as Romeo Takes an Ecstasy tablet. When Romeo enters the actual ball he goes in with his cousins and he flashes his fake ticket at the bouncer in a very stoned way and the bouncer looks down at him as if to say oh good another stoned person. The ball is full of sexual promiscuity with many things going on which aren t considered sexually normal such as Gloria Capulet kissing Tybalt (her nephew) in a sexual way, Fulgencio Capulet with a young girl rather than his wife and Fulgencio also shows off his pants to everyone. Mercutio dances dressed in a tiny silver top and skirt and is in drag and he dances sexually on a huge, cheap looking staircase in front of a massive painting of the virgin Mary. The Costumes people are wearing reflect the tackiness of the fancy dress ball with everyone wearing very glitzy, tacky costumes. Gloria Capulet is dressed as Cleopatra, Fulgencio is dressed as a roman god, The Capulet boys are dressed as skeletons except Tybalt who is wearing devil horns.
Everyone there is dressed in this equally tacky way except for Romeo and Juliet. Juliet is dressed as an angel wearing a white dress and feathered wings on her back, this is to make her look innocent and pure and Romeo who is dressed as a knight in chainmail this is to make him look strong and dominant whereas everyone else s costumes are just meaningless. The lighting is heavy in the ballroom with strobe lights, spotlights and fairy lights. The strobe lights make the ball look party like and modern. The spotlights pick up things Luhrman wants us to notice i.
e. Fulgencio s pants on the stage. The fairy lights are just there for decoration around the ceiling and doors. The camera angles are mostly medium long shots showing the ball with all the people there crammed into one sho to make it look busy and popular. There is a very long shot when Mercutio is dancing at the top of the stairs, this is a very long shot to show the huge painting of the Virgin Mary as well as to show his dancers and the crowd watching him dance. The scene is mainly split up by match cuts going from place to place in the ball and showing many different things including the guests and the ballroom.
The ball is held in the Capulet Mansion, which is an enormous house. The ballroom is a massive room, it has deep rich red walls, many marble pillars and a huge marble staircase with a huge painting of the Virgin Mary above it. After Romeo takes the Ecstasy tablet at the beginning of the ball scene you see many spinning fireworks they are there to make the viewer feel dizzy and stoned as is Romeo. Once Romeo has staggered drunkenly into the ball the screen goes hazy and you see the ball the ball through the eyes of Romeo, you can see Tybalt and Gloria Capulet kissing and there is a hazed close up of Tybalt where he roars like a lion.
There is then a close up on Mercutio, which then cuts to a very long shot of Mercutio dancing on the staircase. Romeo then staggers off and Fulgencio comes up to him and says something then Romeo starts spinning and the camera follows him looking at his face. Romeo looks as if he is going to vomit and the music gets louder and the lights start to flash very quickly. After Romeo spins the scene jump cuts into the bathroom and you can see Romeos face in a basin of water.
The bathroom is a complete change from the ballroom, the music is a slow ballad rather than a quick disco song, the bathroom is much better lit with most of the light coming from a central fish tank which is dividing the male and female bathrooms as well as some wall lights and in the ball room the decoration was very garish and cheap looking with pillars, gold guided ceiling and rich red walls whereas the bathroom is very calm and tranquil with greens, blues and other warm colours. Romeo pulls his head out of the basin and throws his mask into the basin as if to say I don t want to be here anymore. Romeo then notices a fish tank in the middle of the room he walks over to it whilst the camera pans round him showing a man dressed as a old world jester using a urinal. On the other side of the fish tank is Juliet in the Female bathroom. Juliet sees Romeo on the other side of the fish tank and she jumps back in shock and they look at each other as if it is love at first site, they then kiss the fish tank and do other thing to let each other know how they feel about each other. The gliding movements of the fish in the fish tank mirror these movements.
This Romantic scene is then abruptly ended by the harsh voice of Juliet s nurse saying Juliet your mother asks for you and that is the end of the ballroom scene. When William Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet it would have been performed in a very different way than it is in this film. Baz Luhrman had to update this film as other wise it would have appealed to the younger audience and he would have made less money from ticket sales and such like. He has changed almost everything to make it into something young people can relate to i. e. guns, cars and drugs the only thing he has kept the same since Shakespeare wrote it is the dialogue.
I think he has done this as he intends viewers to follow the story more by the pictures on screen more then the dialogue.