Baz Luhrmann's modern cinematic depiction of William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet is certainly a brilliant 90’s relic that all film and theatre lovers did and still do enjoy. Leonardo DiCaprio starring as the young Capulet Romeo and Claire Danes as the beautiful Montague Juliet, Luhrmann sets our tragedy play to film in a modern world, while sticking with the original Shakespearean dialogue. For the “two young star-crossed lovers” world is a post-modern, post-punk, post-industrial, retro hipster world of both past and present culture, where the gangs of both families rave havoc on the streets Verona - which from an aerial perception looks like the gang warfare of New Mexico or Rio. Sticking to the unique authentic Shakespearean play, the gangs of both Capulet and Montague branded swords are replaced with handguns with the engraved family names. The household's soldiers' traditional Victorian armour is replaced with Hawaiian shirts and noble steeds are interchanged with open top sports cars. One of the key elements that Luhrmann does is the visual directing of the wild shaky camera angling and the dazzling luminous close-ups.
Before we are thrown into the warfare of the feud between the two household, in this modern take of Romeo and Juliet we are entranced in a barrage of symbolisms and juxtapositions. The floating TV screen with the reporter sets the scene, giving the prologue. As the floating screen slowly occupies the whole movie screen, we are sucked into the world of Verona. Many parts of the film are symbolic and in fact make references to Clint Eastwood’s “A Fistful of Dollars” or “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”. The swinging sign at the gas station, the way Tybolt (John Leguizamo) extinguishes the matchstick and the silence before the storm hits standoff. All these are well thought out references to the sub-genre Spaghetti Western which subconsciously initiates to the audience, the tense atmosphere of violence.
The intense action sequence is both a feeling of lavish and extraordinary crushing violence, driven by love and honour. The ecstasy fuelled Capulet boys sneaking into the Montague’s grand ball is a trip of bright lights, laughing faces and dancing to tracks from Radiohead, Quindon Tarve, The Cardigans and One Inch Punch. Romeo and Juliet is truly a face of the 90’s teen era of cinema that beautifully stayed timeless - even 18 years after its original release. Perhaps it is the simple fact that it is a romantic-drama film adaptation of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. It could even be because characters from the film dress the same as our generation today. That it is easier for our generation and future generations to relate to, as we see gangs fighting in Hawaiian shirts using guns instead of the chainmail Victorian armour and swords.