Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Scene Stealer: Romeo + Juliet


Two friends of mine recently told me that they selected “Kissing You” by Des’ree as the song for the first dance song at their upcoming wedding.  When they mentioned the song I immediately thought of the scene in Romeo + Juliet when the two star-crossed lovers see each other for the first time, their eyes alight with youthful innocence and tender passion, through the glass of an aquarium.  Baz Luhrmann’s reimagining of Shakespeare’s most popular play is a visual spectacle with bright, dynamic mise-en-scene set to a stunning and eclectic soundtrack ranging from hard rock and rap to soft ballads.  There are skinheads, drag queens and gunslingers wielding designer pistols. The film is like a series of music videos edited in a series of quick cuts full of bright colours and manic action.

The manic action slows for a few moments during the Capulet costume ball when Romeo and Juliet first behold each other.  Romeo sticks his head in a sink of water, trying to shake the foggy high created by the ecstasy pill he took before entering the ball.  He becomes enthralled by the colourful fish in the aquarium behind him and spies the eye of another when one of the bright fish swims away.  The eye belongs to Juliet.  They stare at each other through the aquarium, each captivated by the other while playfully gazing at their own reflections in the glass.  It’s a scene that succeeds merely on the physicality of the actors, on their expressions and reactions to one another, and Des’ree’s hauntingly beautiful voice in the background.  This is the moment that sparks the intense love that develops almost instantaneously between them, and like the entire film, is an inventive, artistic and moving scene that sets the tragedy that is to befall the legendary sweethearts into motion.

6 comments:

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    1. Me too. It's definitely one of my favourites in the film.

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  2. I honestly don't remember the music, but I definitely remember the fish tank because I also really liked the visuals in this scene.

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    1. The visuals are stunning. The song is beautiful and I think it stands out to me because it's the only sound we hear during this scene.

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  3. I love this scene. The music and the way Luhrmann frames the whole thing. It's a film that has grown on me as I see it now. I wasn't really that fond of it when I first saw it in the theaters and had to take my sister because she was so in love with Leonardo diCaprio. I see it now and I just love it.

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    1. I think it does get better upon repeat viewings. It got some bad reviews, but I think it's quite a beautiful piece of work and a true feast for the senses. It's so beautiful to look at!

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