All around the world people often refer to Romeo and Juliet as one of the most romantic love stories of all time. However, after reading the book, it’s obvious that there are many misconceptions about the story. In reality, it’s about a four-day relationship between a 17 year-old and a 13 year-old that results in six deaths. Yet there are still too many to count recreations of Romeo and Juliet. One may ask, why is that? It’s because it teaches such a great lesson.
Not every teenage relationship will end in marriage or death, but it can end badly because of rash decisions made by the teenagers, who think they’re in love. This is what happens in Romeo and Juliet, which is why it’s such an interesting movie to make over and over again. Luhrmann emphasizes the theme found in Romeo and Juliet of young love leading to reckless decisions in the death scene of his 1996 version by excluding certain characters, using the motif of light/dark imagery, and having Romeo and Juliet talk before committing suicide.
To begin with, a change Luhrmann decided to make in the death scene of his version of Romeo and Juliet was that he would exclude all the characters mentioned in the book at the death scene. Originally in the book, Paris is outside the Capulet tomb, mourning Juliet’s “death”. Romeo comes along to kill himself, and ends up killing Paris. On his deathbed Paris says, “O, I am slain! If thou be merciful, /Open the tomb, lay me with Juliet. ” (5. 3. 72-73). Although it’s sweet that Paris wants to be laid to rest next to Juliet, it isn’t necessary.
It takes away the focus on Romeo and Juliet, and their situation. Romeo is about to go kill himself because he thinks his one true love has died, and there Paris is, proclaiming his love for Juliet. His words are just taking up room on the page. Also, at the end of the death scene in the book, the entire watchmen, Friar Lawrence, Lord Capulet, Lord Montague and the Prince are there. Luhrmann realized that this scene would be much better without all the extra people surround Romeo and Juliet, because it would emphasize their young love and how they got to the point of suicide.
The viewer gets to focus and think about how in just four days, two young people in love were committing suicide, without being distracted by all the other characters in the scene. In addition, Luhrmann recognized the light/dark imagery throughout Romeo and Juliet, and decides to incorporate it into his version of the movie. In the book, Romeo says, “O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright! /It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night. ” (1. 2. 24-25). This is the first time Romeo sees Juliet, and he uses the light/dark imagery shown earlier and is used throughout the rest of the book.
Romeo symbolizes the darkness, and Juliet represents the lightness, because Romeo is depressed about Rosaline in the beginning of the book, and Juliet makes him happy and forgets about her after they meet. Luhrmann uses the light/dark motif in the party scene in the movie, as well. Romeo is dressed as a knight, which is a pun for night, and Juliet is dressed as an angel, which shows her lightness. This motif is also shown in the death scene, because Juliet is wearing a pure white dress, and Romeo is dressed in darker colors.
This emphasizes the theme of the theme of young love leading to reckless decisions, because the use of light and dark imagery throughout the movie shows that even after all their bad decisions, like getting married after knowing each other for less than day, they still love each other and Juliet is still light and brings happiness to Romeo. Finally, the most noticeable change Luhrmann made to his version of Romeo and Juliet, is that they have a conversation before death. In the book, Romeo finds Juliet “dead” in the Capulet tomb, says a few nice things, and takes the poison.
Juliet wakes and finds him dead, and then stabs herself in the heart with his dagger. However, in the movie Juliet wakes up just as Romeo is taking the poison. Without noticing she’s awake, he takes the poison, and Juliet realizes what has happened. Juliet, like in the book, kisses Romeo to try and get some poison off of his lips, and Romeo says, “Thus…with a kiss…I die. ” Juliet takes his gun, and shoots herself in the head. By having Romeo and Juliet see each other for just a few seconds before their deaths, Luhrmann not only adds intensity to the scene, but also emphasizes it.
It’s like stepping onto train tracks, thinking you’re not going to get hit by a train. When that train comes, you have just a few seconds to think about what a bad decision you made, and then BAM! You’re dead. That’s what it was like for Romeo and Juliet. They had a moment too look at each other and think back to all the bad decisions they made in the past four days. This emphasized the theme of young love leads to reckless decisions, because Romeo and Juliet had a moment to think about the decisions they made for just a moment by seeing each other just before they died, which didn’t happen in the book.
In conclusion, Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet was a major success. It wasn’t just a $14. 5 million budget that made the film so good. It was Luhrmann’s changes to the film. By excluding characters like Friar Lawrence and Paris from the death scene, the audience was able to focus on what was really important, that Romeo and Juliet were committing suicide without being distracted by unnecessary storyline. The use of the dark/light motif throughout the movie shows that from the beginning, Romeo thought Juliet was beautiful, and when he thought she was dead, she still looked beautiful.
He described her using light imagery. This shows that Romeo might’ve mistaken his love for Juliet with lust, which can lead to bad decisions. By having Juliet wake up to find Romeo killing himself, the death scene became more intense and real, because Romeo and Juliet were able to see in front of them what their reckless decisions lead to. Luhrmann emphasizes the theme found in Romeo and Juliet of young love leading to reckless decisions in the death scene of his 1996 version by excluding certain characters, using the motif of light/dark imagery, and having Romeo and Juliet talk before committing suicide.