Running head: Elements of Design A well designed film is the one that commands attention as well as communicating some feeling to the audience. In the process of envisioning and designing a film, the director, the production designer and art director deal with major and minor elements. This paper will try to analyze design elements from act 1 scene 5 of Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 film ‘William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet’. The director of the 1996 film version of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is Baz Luhrmann, and he used the elements of film language to make meaning for the audience. His work was to coordinate with all other departments, and directors to ensure that the film’s overall theme is brought out as intended (Orgel, 2007). The production designer in the film was Catherine Martin, and her role was to collaborate with the director and director of photography to attain a visual feel and other aesthetic needs of the film (Russel, 2000). It was her work to guide key staff in other departments to see to it that the visual appearance brings unity in the film. In this film, the art director is Paul Loosley, and his work was to develop various parts of the scene, supervise and unify the vision (Russel, 2000). The art director, therefore, was in charge of all visual appearance, how it communicates visually, the way it stimulates moods, contrasts and the psychological appeals to the target audience. In the film making, artificial or natural light commands a big influence on the look and the mood created.
The artists set the scene in a crass, violet and superficial society in Verona Beach and Sycamore Grove (Russel, 2000). The light is controlled and regulated according to the mood of each clip. For instance, where Juliet meets with Romeo and kiss, as in the balcony scene, we see Claire Danes being illuminated with soft light that covers a winder area with more diffuse light, which diminishes her outline (Brode, 2001). Hard light is used, in some instances, to illuminate Juliet’s face and sharply outlines and brings the details and texture of other characters. Lighting affect emotional understanding of characters and in this scene, we see bright colors conveying romantic feeling. In some other cases, more diffuse and greyer lighting shows inclement weather. In film making, light brings about numerous mood changes within the course of the story. The artists in the film’s scene use both natural and artificial light with illuminations. The illuminations used give a suggestion of sunniness, joy and security. In most other cases, light is varied to create sinister and disturbing moods. Therefore, light can be used to display a variety of moods in a film depending on the sub-themes within the story. The film is set in the created world of Verona beach and Sycamore Grove in Mexico City and Veracruz (Brode, 2001). The film is shot with the elusive Gen-X audience in mind, and it included modern day themes like violence, love in dangerous situations and personality cult. Costumes are clothes that characters wear and their colors, designs signify character traits of for character distinction. The most interesting fact is that costume colors have negative and positive meanings. For example, while black costumes can be used to symbolize evil, death and coldness, it is also used to symbolize dramatic, classy and seriousness of characters. Costumes can be used to tell about the character’s social class, moral stance, and profession among others. These elements are closely intertwined with the plot to bring out the continuity and major lessons in the film. Hairstyle can tell a story especially the passage of time. Like costumes, hair styles can tell about the character’s sophistication, profession, social class among others. The mise-en-scene includes; the set design, lighting, space, costume and acting. In the Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 ‘William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet’, the set design has been used to amplify Romeo and Juliet’s emotion as well as the dominant mood of the film. The lighting gives the way we perceive characters, and space influences the reading of a story. Costumes have been used to contrast characters and the film uses a naturalistic style of acting. In the scene, these elements have been expertly combined to produce a harmony in the film in terms of Elizabethan themes and the current generation’s themes. This has tried to avoid any discordance in the scene which could arise if these themes were not in harmony with each other. The vision of the film makers was to make the film accessible to the current generation without changing the play’s original themes. This has been achieved by linking the language of the original play with modern themes as well as use of artificial lighting, modern costumes and music. Reference List Brode, D. (2001). Shakespeare in the Movies. New York: Berkeley Boulevard. Orgel, S. (2007). Shakespeare Illustrated. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Russell, J. P (2000). The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Film. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.