What techniques does Baz Luhrmann used to transform Romeo and Juliet into a contemporary context?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I would say that one particular technique that Luhrmann uses is a modern soundtrack.  At least by the standards of the late 1990s, the musical soundtrack that accompanies the film is quite modern and contemporary.  Musical performances by Garbage, Everclear, and Radiohead brings out the "Grunge" feel of the time period, contemporarizing his film and forging another link between the viewer and the Shakespearean text.  The style of filming is radically different than a traditional cinematic depiction.  Luhrmann uses fast paced filming with quick cuts and a distinct "MTV" style to bring out another link between the viewer and the text.  The use of modern sportscars, settings, and guns also helps to make the feel of the work contemporary, feeding into a set design technique that allows a modern feel to emerge.  Verona Beach as the setting of Verona works well in bringing out the contemporary feel.  These help to bring out a contemporary take on the Shakespearean work.

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