• I have chosen to talk about the scene in Romeo and Juliet (1996, Baz Lurhmann) that takes place just after the opening news report monologue, in which, after the families are introduced and the narrative is essentially summarised, the Capulets and Montagues clash at a petrol station. I will discuss how mise-en- scene, sound and cinematography is used in this sequence to construct meaning and provoke response.
Through an establishing shot, we can see the positioning of the Capulet and Montaguetowers (they reside next to each other and are similar heights) show that the two familiesare openly opposing each other in close competition. The strong choir element of the non-diegetic music gives the scene an overwhelming celestial type atmosphere/tone whilst thesudden crash of the drums connotes power and strength.Verona is a religious place- we know this the height, positioning and close up shot of thereligious statue which not only emphasises on the importance and power of religion herebut also suggests that it is the heart of the city. However, the establishing shot allows usto see that the Montague and Capulet towers are taller and wider than the statue whichcould suggest that these two families are more powerful than the presence of religion. Theskyscrapers, scaffoldings and occupied main road alerts the audience Verona isindustrialised/busy and that the film is set in a modern time period, unlike the original storyof Romeo and Juliet.
• Religious connotations of Verona contrast with the shots of violence, rioting and police we see• Violin strings creates determined and tension filled atmosphere as it gradually builds up to the powerful choir chorus again.• The fire that appears on screen during the newspaper clippings montage not only connotes destruction and anarchy that cannot be controlled but, once we see it close to the quarrelling families‟ surnames, could foreshadow the tarnishing of their reputations.• Close up shots of newspaper articles show the clash is well known and publicised- the names of two („prophet‟ and „bullet‟) could be used to foreshadow the themes of religion, violence and death; the word „bullet‟ could also foreshadow the speed in which the feud between the two families escalates.• Families are wealthy and respectable (Caroline Montague has pearl earrings and an extravagant necklace, Fulgencio Capulet wears a suit and his wife wears a fur coat)
• The fact that the song and on screen text refers to them as boys highlights their immaturity and lack of discipline; the song is also a rap song which carries connotations of bad behaviour. One line sings “check it out” which links in with their showy off behaviour.• Their shirts and hair colours are loud/bright- links in with their wild behaviour• Proud of their heritage and eager to flaunt their name; we know this from the personalised licence plate and tattoo
• The Capulets are more intimidating than the Montagues- the natural lighting causes shadows, Abra Capulet wears a grill that reads “sin”; this suggests he does not respect or abide by the law/bible. Sound is also used to suggest they are more aggressive- the guitar riff heard when Abra presses the car horn and then the smoke from the car when he stalks towards the Montagues also has this affect and shows how aggressive his need is to defend his name.• The lewd actions towards the nuns from both sides suggest that they don‟t have respect for religion however this contrasts with the fact that Abra is wearing a large cross around his neck. If we link to this to the amount of religion present in Verona we have previously seen, it could be that the people are expected to respect and practice religion here because it‟s tradition to do so, hence Abra‟s holy jewellery, but in reality the younger generation do not.• Benvolio reveals that the “quarrel is between (their) masters”, to which another Montague replies with “and us their men!”, which suggests that the younger generation feel a need to defend their name
• The Capulet’s coat of arms portray them as more barbaric as the middle part is a bright red, which connotes blood and danger, and the chosen weapon of the sword picture is more deadly and old-fashioned than the gun pictured on the Montague coat of arms. However, the Montague coat of arms has a skull on it which connotes death and evil.
• The scared and panicked voices we hear at Benvolio’s entrance suggest that he has some authority over them or more knowledge or years than them as he refers to them as “fools” and warms them they do not know what they’re doing. The message we see on the gas sign and the foley sound of it swaying in the mind gives an ominous atmosphere and suggests the situation is about to escalate hugely.