Romeo and Juliet begins with a neutral atmospheric shot consisting of a 1950s style television set with a Newsreader telling the news. City of God however begins with a chilling shot of a knife brutally being slashed against stone, thus introducing/indicating the level of violence involved in this film, clearly the opening shots are completely different as they create completely different atmospheres.
The colour scheme largely differs, with Luhrman preferring/using vividly bright primary colours and Meirelles usage of colours being mainly pale blues. Again creating different atmospheres, Luhrmans’ film is obviously a fun/bright/bubbly one whereas Meirelles is a serious one.
Luhramns choice of music is mixed/randomised. Starting with overly dramatic operatic music, moving onto a rock/hip hop mix in an attempt to appeal to a younger audience, ending with a western theme. Meirelle seems to be patronising/mocking, by using upbeat/frenzied travelogue music on top of violent imagery; the music doesn’t seem to fit the situation unlike with Luhrmans.
Both directors use humour though not in the traditional sense. Luhraman uses humour during the fight scene. A situation which would otherwise be serious is comedified by the handbag gag. Meirelles uses humour with the chicken, when Lil Ze says “Get that chicken!”, this could be considered as dark comedy, comedy with disturbing elements to it. Both directors combine humour with violence.
Antagonism between the main protagonists is hinted at in both films but with varied styles and techniques. Luhrman differentiates the two opposing sides with ECUs and CUs of symbols e.g. a Montague tattoo, a Capulet car grill … Meirelles does the same thing but by setting up a different atmosphere/mood for each character (Lil Ze – chaotic/frenzied music, Rocket – calm/peaceful, no music). By having the two different atmospheres one after another emphasizes the difference between the two.
Guns are features in both films, considered as status symbols but portrayed differently. Luhrman presents a gun as a machismo object by usage of a rapid sequence of cuts, close ups, whip pans, tilts, extreme close-ups, distortions, slam zooms, and crane shots. The guns in this film are glorified, whereas Meirelles depicts them as gritty/gruesome object with little to no emphasis on them in camera shots.
Both directors are extraordinary and their work has been linked to other famous directors. Luhrman plays tribute to Western genre film director Sergio Leone. Tybalt’s entrance borrows from the ‘spaghetti western’ genre, the clichï¿½ scene of the ‘baddy’ making his first appearance. The four men fighting suddenly freeze; we hear the sound of a match striking and see a close up of it as it falls to the ground. The camera cranes up to meet the dark cold eyes and feline smile of Tybalt, cigarette between teeth and gun-hand outstretched, the epitome of calm, menacing, cool control. This is particularly similar to Leone’s’ work. Meirelles film has been compared to Martin Scorsese’ Goodfellas due to the many similarities (e.g. Rocket – the narrator’s voiceover, the flashback style).
These films have been compared to other directors and other films but they have certain uniqueness to them e.g. the unusual opening. Romeo and Juliet opens with its’ own trailer! and merges Shakespearian lingo with a modern newsreader accent. City of god opens with a striking and somewhat daring image of knife scraping against a stone and then moving onto a comic scene of a chicken being chased by some guys who actually scream out “get that chicken!”