How Great Gatsby, Moulin Rouge! and Romeo and Juliet Create the Feeling of an Audience Participation in the Story

June 7, 2022 by Essay Writer

The Great Gatsby, Moulin Rouge! and Romeo and Juliet focus on creating audience participation cinema and engaging the audience on an emotional level rather than on a cerebral one. The statement that the films, are said to be focused on style rather than substance, is not entirely correct. Baz Luhrmann is well known for his exaggerated filming and colourful screens, yet I believe that his films are not only about pleasing the eye. The films still have the depth to it and aren’t completely shallow, although his ways of creating depth are sometimes unrealistic. He manages to achieve these characteristics of audience participation through filming techniques, music and the love stories which engages the audience on an emotional level.

As one might have noticed, his style of filming is very unique and immoderate, especially in the film Moulin Rouge!. The film technique with fast-moving shots and high energy in every scene forces the audience to pay attention and “live” the movie. When the Moulin Rouge in Paris is introduced, there is a lot of chaos and activity as the camera creates a certain effect of movement. That way the viewer has to keep on watching even though it might be overwhelming. This is also evident in The Great Gatsby with hyperreal cinematography. He uses specific colour pallets to highlight certain things, such as the affect Gatsby has on Nick.

The use of bright colours shows how Nicks view and perception is filled with hope and excitement, whereas with Gatsby’s absence, the colours are dull. This shows the impact Gatsby has, making the film feel lacking without him, done intentionally. (Film Inquiry, 2016) Although this movie is criticised as extremely shallow, one would still watch it as it is pleasing for the eye due to the set decorations, colourful costumes and make-up. The vibrant atmosphere prevents the viewer from drifting off, for example the scene in the red hotel room with Nick and Tom partying with the women. Due to the filming techniques, the viewer can feel what effect the drugs and alcohol have on Nick. It almost engages with the viewer physically, whereas Romeo and Juliet is more subtle with its techniques to engage the audience in comparison to Luhrmann’s later films. The scene where Mercutio and Romeo take the drug, the following partying scene and the deaths are the only and most engaging scenes using these techniques.

An convenient way to get the participation of the audience is through music. Including popular songs into a film, will grab the people’s attention and let them enjoy listening to the song. This is obvious in the films Moulin Rouge! and The Great Gatsby. In Moulin Rouge! songs such as “Sparking Diamonds” by Nicole Kidman and “Lady Marmalade” by Christina Aguilera, P!nk, Lil’Kim and Mya (Wikipedia) or “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got)” by Fergie, Q-Tip and GoonRock and “Young and Beautiful” by Lana Del Rey, (VH1 News 2013) in The Great Gatsby,are popular songs and will engage the audience.

The songs that are sung in Moulin Rouge!, contribute to the meaning and the plot of the film, which provides substance, due to their relevance, although singing to your lover is unrealistic. Music or songs were not as evident in the film Romeo and Juliet, for that there are phrases from the original Shakespeare play that we know and recognise such as the line “Romeo oh Romeo”. Yet, the story originally written by William Shakespeare was not well represented. Due to this, is the use of style over substance perceptible in this film because Luhrmann focused more on the style and audience participation rather than concentrating on the actual story. Regardless, the style is not shown well or consistent enough.

Lastly, Baz Luhrmann achieves the connection to the audience on an emotional level rather than cerebral, through the love stories he creates. Love is a big key factor in our society, and we can easily connect with characters in films through emotions. All three films are tragic love stories where at least one character dies due to the complications the relationships bring with them. In The Great Gatsby, Daisy is portrayed as a very shallow person, due to her money-driven personality, yet one can recognise her inner struggle with society and herself. She said: “I hope she’ll be a fool—that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”(Sparknotes) She essentially agrees being shallow, thinking it prevents heartbreak. The fact that she is so torn between Gatsby and Tom, shows her inner struggle, yet her deep love for Gatsby. She then chooses Tom, which exposes her shallowness. Moulin Rouge!, is a devastating love story, yet unrealistic in many aspects. The fact that the people are torn apart due to their social backgrounds is a present-day issue, but it is very unrealistic to not follow one’s heart to save a theatre.

This was both the case in Moulin Rouge!, which again shows its yet deep-going meaning, but also its shallowness due to unrealistic factors to make it dramatic, though love is presented in many scenes and also songs. The mise-en-scène also contributes to the theme of love when Christian and Satine sing to one another in the elephant-room with the big red heart in the background. In Romeo and Juliet the love between two young people is something that is part of everyone’s life, however the suicide is rather unrealistic. Again, love is presented irrationally. The deep love which they have for one another is communicated in their reaction when they find each other dead. The fact that they fell in love so quickly and got married just after a few days is completely out of proportion, yet the viewer has built an emotional attachment and is able to relate in one way or another.

To conclude, it can be said that style over substance is recognisable in all three films. Deep going love stories are shown, but the representation is far-fetched. Besides that, it is definite that Luhrmann was able to achieve audience participation in many different ways. People’s attention is being caught through cinematic techniques, audiences can potentially sing to the songs, and can feel the emotions and love through the love stories. Altogether the style of cinematography appeals to the eye created by the intense use of style.


Read more