Baz Luhrmann's second feature, "William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet" (1996), is a bold and vigorous adaptation the Bard's most famous tragedy. He offers a trendy, contemporary re-telling of the classic love story with Leonardo DiCaprio's Romeo and Clare Danes' Juliet.
Set in the gangs and gun culture of Verona Beach, the Capulets and the Montagues are two rival corporate dynasties with generations of hatred behind them. At a party thrown by the Capulets, their teenage children, Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet, meet and quickly fall in love. They race towards a secret marriage, and when it seems that there may be some hope to bring the two warring sides together, events take a tragic turn.
Although Luhrmann courageously sticks with the prose, it's spoken as a language. It works, as there is the unwritten assumption that the audience are already familiar with the text and if not, will get the gist of it. This leaves Luhrmann free to stun his audience with the visuals.
The film is beautifully shot with vivid and bizarre sets. Luhrmann makes the Capulets ball a glitzy affair with every frame dripping wealth. The music is loud and the pace fast. The frenetic camerawork drives the audience through the film as the ill-fated pair hurtles towards their doom.
Luhrmann's flamboyant direction pumps new life into a well-known, much-adapted tale. With the Oscar nominated 'pop-promo' design of the film, Shakespeare became fashionable and cool once again.