T3 :: of film as text, juxtaposition and Baz Luhrmann





So, for my Shakespeare unit, I’ve been telling my students that everything is text.

And I’ve also been telling them that it is imperative to be able to deconstruct and evaluate all text. Sadly, the “blink and you’ll miss it” mentality fostered by our current instantaneous digital society devalues deep thought and thoughtful analysis, both of which  require a slower pace to accomplish.

Very few are willing to commit to a slower pace anymore. But if we continue to “consume” texts so quickly, blindly and indiscriminately, we run the risk of following the path that the satirical film, Idiocracy, had set out in chilling detail. However, neither can we combat the fact that film and the internet and social media are here to stay.

So we must find a way to bridge the gap between the fast pace of information production and the slow pace of information evaluation. Sadly, I don’t have a definitive answer for you, but I think performing a “literary criticism” on a film could be a step in the right direction. And what better material to do so than with William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet versus Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet?

Since this is a style blog and not a teaching blog, though, I shall not subject you to any more academic musings. (But if you’re interested, may I suggest this article that breaks down the film based on how the production crew interpreted the original source material?) For the rest of my regular readers, an explanation of today’s rather abstruse post:

Firstly, I haven’t been reading very much this month because I’m back to writing and revising Dissever (Yay! I finally have a working title for my novel!) but I needed a post on my own T3 linkup, so I thought to be efficient and combine my professional life with my blogging life by using R&J (text and film) as my style source material.

Then, fortuitously, this week happens to be Movie Mania over at SpyGirl’s 52 Pick-me-up which meant my fortuitous combining of professional and blogging lives worked with that as well.

I didn’t want to come to school all costume-y, however. Luckily for me, the Luhrmann film utilizes a contemporary clothing aesthetic as outlined in this quote:

[The]Capulets’ style “is more decorative and the Montague kids are more utilitarian…The Capulets wear ornamental and expensive pieces of clothing, and bullet-proof vests have become required accessories… The Capulets are more manicured and preening and wear clothes that are extremely well-cut and body conscious….

With the Montague boys, it’s sort of a Vietnam feeling. They carry weapons but they wear whatever they want, like at the end of Vietnam War, when the soldiers wore Hawaiian shirts and shorts and indigenous hats. They invented their own way of wearing clothes to suit the climate and the surroundings. The Montagues…wear their hair very short and sport these lush Hawaiian-style shirts which are vibrant and colorful, so everyone knows who they are.

Finally, I’d been toying with the concept of “whimsical juxtaposition” as my personal style niche, and the diametrically opposed style of these two households, although “both alike in dignity”, really struck a chord.

So when you take all these things into consideration, you come up with an OOTD that juxtaposes the body consciousness of the Capulets (snakeskin leggings and OTK boots) with the colorful vibrancy of the Montagues (floral peasant blouse) as represented in a film (52 Pick-me-up compliant) based on a play (T3 compliant) and which reflects my unique fashion aesthetic.

And you? Any texts resonate with you enough to inspire an ensemble? Do link and tell…


:: Just the facts, ma’am ::
Top – H&M
Leggings – YOOX
Boots – jcp

:: Grooveshark it ::
When I Was Your Man – Bruno Mars


27 thoughts on “T3 :: of film as text, juxtaposition and Baz Luhrmann

  1. Val S says:

    Ah, Baz, Romeo, Leonardo, and you! You are just brilliant in your logic and outfit! The top is so pretty, and the boots are so sassy. You’d fit right in with Romeo + Juliet, which was such a cool interpretation. Baz is good, although sometimes he needs to chill out. My favorite Luhrman film is and always will be Strictly Ballroom.

    • mtsedwards says:

      The truth of the matter was that the top – being of the babydoll, pouf variety – looks really pretty in IRL but was a bear to photograph. It took double the amount of shots to get these passable ones; the rest made me look like seriously pregnant. At one point, I almost despaired and was about to replace it with another floral top. I’m so glad everyone seems to have positive feels for it.

      And yes – Strictly Ballroom is phenomenal!

  2. chessakat says:

    That top is soooo pretty – I love the colors and the print! And you know this is from the print-phobic!!! 😉

    I really really really need to see Romeo + Juliet again – I think I’ve only seen in the one time, when it first came out. It really is time for a second viewing, I think.

    • mtsedwards says:

      Sadly, the top didn’t really make a full debut because it got chilly so I threw on my black velvet blazer and forgot I had it on. LOL. There’s always spring.

      And yes, it does stand up well to time. Go Netflix it!

  3. Kezzie says:

    This is very pretty and feminine and I like your take on the texts. Yes, I do worry about the need for instant gratification without going any deeper. And the constant noise. Young people are terrified of silence! I think the silence is important- here the deepest thoughts come and I worry someone/something is trying to keep them from that.x

    • mtsedwards says:

      Do you think, then, that the appreciation of silence comes with age and is not lost with each succeeding generation? That means there’s still hope, right? We venerable folk simply need to be patient and they’ll catch up eventually?

  4. Yes! “Whimsical juxtaposition” is perfect for describing your style! Are you actually having your students work on a project by comparing the movie to the text? I think movie projects in school are really fun! One of my favorite units to do with my honors French class is a comparison/contrast paper about the various depictions of Marie Antoinette. I show them a documentary about her life, the Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette and then the kids read some articles about her…then they compare/contrast from there. It’s really interesting to see what they come up with!

    • P.S. Leonardo Dicaprio, be still my heart!

      • mtsedwards says:

        I know, right? I’d forgotten how pretty he was when he was younger. Pretty Leo spouting Shakespeare? Be still my English geeky heart!

    • mtsedwards says:

      I’m having the kids answer this Essential Question: How do we make Shakespeare relevant/accessible to today’s contemporary audience? So far, we have read R&J and watched the film adaptation. Then I plan to show them Shakespeare in Love, then read Charles Lamb’s short story adaptation of Twelfth Night, and then watch teen flick She’s the Man, which is a contemporary adaptation of Twelfth Night. Finally, we’ll read Macbeth and use that the source material for them to “adapt” as they see fit to answer the EQ. I hope they get something out of it. It’s very work intensive and sometimes the intent gets lost in the execution.

  5. I love Luhrmann’s original take on R+J! I haven’t read a lot of Shakespeare (except in college) but I’ve seen numerous theatre and film interpretations. There was an episode of Gilmore Girls where Rory’s class had to interpret and act out scenes from R+J, which I thought was an excellent asignment – Shakespeare’s works (plays in general) are meant to be experienced, not just read.

    Great mash-up of Benvolio’s and Tybalt’s looks (that’s what I see, anyway)!

    Have you seen Luhrmann’s first film, Strictly Ballroom? It’s available on Netflix. The Australian sense of humor is incredibly unique and not to everyone’s tastes, but I LOVE that film!

  6. Anne M Bray aka SpyGirl says:

    The planets align like star crossed lovers!
    I’ve got Art and Text for you, though nary an outfit of mine.

    • mtsedwards says:

      Ah, but the Art and Text was brilliant! I’d take them over any old outfit any day! Thanks for linking!

      • Anne M Bray aka SpyGirl says:

        It was a good batch, right?
        Today I’ll be “up in the clouds” with Whistler at the Getty. OMG — that’s a recent movie! Doh! 2nd 52 Pick-me-up post to come on Saturday.

        Oh how I love my manic periods!

        • mtsedwards says:

          Not familiar with that movie but loving the manic moments of inspiration. Can’t wait to see what you come up with. 😀

          • Anne M Bray aka SpyGirl says:

            Guess what — not Whistler — TURNER, and, not exhibit yet open! Doh.
            We saw lots of flowers in the garden instead.
            Trying again in two weeks. Seeing the art, then seeing the movie in Beverly Hills (hopefully it’ll still be playing)

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