The location was specifically chosen to represent modern times. America was the most modern country available. Although Luhrmann wanted to shoot the film in Miami, it was seen by the mayor of Miami as unrealistic to put the city on hold while they shot the movie; Mexicos capital city, Mexico City was used instead. It had everything the crew needed, it had a typical city milieu; it was perfect.
As the movie was going to be originally set in Miami, the characters had to at least look like they were from Miami. The Montague household wore very casual Hawaiian t-shirts, which were not buttoned up but hung loosely on the wearer. The Capulets wore very serious, cool clothes, mostly dark colours like black and grey. The choices of clothes used were to symbolise gangsters and mob mentality. from ancient grudge break to new mutiny were being portrayed by Luhrmann, as two rival gangs.
Casting was very much a big thing in Luhrmanns version. He had to pick actors that young people could relate to. It was hard finding such actors, as the young and popular ones had problems reading Shakespeares diverse and complicated old English text. Luhrmann knew that Leonardo Di Caprio would be perfect for Romeo, as he was a heartthrob worldwide, and would bring in the young girls, who adored him.
Throughout the movie we are shown images of power. These images are more abundant in the opening title scene. Images of guns, violence and police are shown to create an atmosphere of chaos and anarchy. The guns are used, again to create a modernised version of the old play. The guns represent the swords used by the people in the sixteenth century, and they are referred to as swords by the actors, put up thy swords.
Religion is one of the main themes in the play, and Luhrmann uses many powerful images to show this in the opening title scene. Two statues of Jesus are filmed round about either side of the city. The statues are opposite each other with their faces facing inwards, as if looking over the people of Verona and keeping guard. Also the Christian crucifix is used to replace some of the Ts in the scripture which occasionally flash between the montage of images of police, violent riots and arrests; the scripture is repeating the important parts of the sonnet that opens the play.
Cinematography is used to great effect in the opening scene. Zooming and panning left and right all help to create the effect of disorder and chaos. Before the title of the movie is actually shown there is a montage of images; each clip lasts only for a split second. Each clip is taken from the movie to show the audience that it isnt an old fashioned soppy love story, but a violent, tragic blockbuster. Using the scenes of gun fights and violence the montage really creates an adrenalin rush.
The music and the backing track for the title scene really goes with the visual picture on the screen. Fast tempo gets the blood pumping and again it helps to cause chaos. It has real power as it builds up towards the end of the title scene; during the montage of images it speeds up and the power of it envelops you. Then finally we see the title of the movie and the music stops after a few seconds after the title falls into view and the audience is left in silence.
In conclusion, considering all the areas of the title scene, Baz Luhrmann has successfully given birth to a fantastic opening to Romeo and Juliet. The title scene underlines key aspects of the sonnet which opens the play, to help the people in the audience who dont understand Shakespeare and even the ones who do. He introduces the principle characters, again to stop the audience from getting confused. The use of exciting images, such as the gun and the images of police and violence makes certain people in the audience stay and not walk out because they may believe it to be boring; many teenagers would believe Shakespeare to be boring. The opening scene had a very strong effect on me personally. It really made me want to see the movie again, even though I had already seen it about three times. The scene gripped me and not many title scenes have done that to me. Baz Luhrmanns version of Romeo and Juliet was a complete success.