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Leonard and Olivia
claudiaeilcinema13 November 2007
This was the first time we actually saw the teenage love Shakespeare intended. Years and years before Leonardo Di Caprio and Clare Danes, Leonard Whiting and Olivia Houssey gave life to the tragic story told in this ancestral tale, revamping it without betraying it, making it accessible to a 60s audience without updating it. Leonard and Olivia were so beautiful that Shakespeare became trendy again and I don't mean any disrespect by it, I'm simply stating a fact. The real, stunning, dusty locations, the costumes, the faces, the music made the whole thing a totally new Shakespearen experience. Remember than the biggest screen adaptation of this play had been with the forty something Leslie Howard and Norma Shearer in those roles. Here everything reeked of youth underlining the tragedy in the most cinematic way. Another important point is to confirm that in 2007 the film still feels young and fresh. Recommended
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A scandal that the Academy did not give this best film
Rosalind Mercer22 April 2002
I saw Romeo and Juliet at the Odeon Leicester Square, the day after the Royal Premier and from that day I was hooked on this film. I went back three times with different sets of friends just to watch it again and each time I enjoyed it more. Now owning it on DVD when I want to just feel good about films I watch it!

So much has already been written about the youth of the two young unknown stars and the chemistry that they had on screen that I don't need to repeat it now. However the key to this film's great success was that it was visually stunning, Zefferelli is the master of using colour, setting and costume to great effect. He was so clever in his casting, not just with the very handsome young Leonard Whiting who at the time when I was only 18 myself I thought was gorgeous but also the innocence of an immature Hussey was perfect. A master stroke was Milo O'Shea as Friar Lawrence, never ever has there been a better role for this talented by rarely seen Irish actor.

It's pointless complaining that the text is cut, by leaving out Romeo killing Paris and also the apothecary selling Romeo the poison in no way detracts from the overall imagery and beauty of Shakespeare's text. To have made the film using the whole text would have been too difficult and perhaps Zefferelli did want to portray Romeo as a little nicer than he actually was. In truth he was a fickle young man as all teenage boys can be and also prone to an amount of passionate violence so prevalent in adolescence. But this was Italy in Tudor times when life was cheap and the willingness to reach for the sword was as it should be.Shakespeare understood human nature better than anyone and that's why all his plays show so much insight into the human spirit.

Zefferelli balanced the film perfectly, nothing was overdone. He combined the tragedy with the humour as well as the love story by casting the right actor for each role and even if some of them faded into oblivium later, for this film they were all perfect. I never want to see another version. Baz Luhrmann's pales in comparison and thats not a bad film.

Come the Oscars I waited with baited breath having convinced myself that it would get best film - I was so disappointed!. It did collect Best Costume and I think Best Cinematography, but what a travesty, especially when the film that did win that year was not even in the same league and is hardly ever remembered. It's always very difficult to succeed with Shakespeare on the big screen but this version of Romeo and Juliet had it all. Only Kenneth Brannagh's mammoth production of the uncut version of Hamlet comes anywhere near this wonderful film.

How Nino Roto's soundtrack also missed out on an Oscar I will never understand. Footnote: Luciano Pavarotti has recorded the main love theme and it's called Ai giochi addio - it is so beautiful it will make you cry as you remember the film.
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The greatest film I've ever seen.
Hermit C-210 April 1999
To my way of thinking, this film should be considered when people discuss the greatest movies of all time. Every scene, practically every frame of this movie is brilliant. Director Zeffirelli went against the ancient practice of using older actors in the title roles, and the performances he elicits from teenagers Whiting and Hussey is amazing. Although he trims the dialog heavily in places (Romeo says, "But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?"- and leaves it at that) his version captures all the passion of Shakespeare's play magnificently.

The scenes at the Capulet's ball at which the two young lovers meet are about the greatest I've ever seen on screen. The famous balcony scene avoids cliches altogether and makes others pale by comparison. The Queen Mab speech, the fight, and the scene in the tomb are all exquisite highlights of this film. Even the dubbing for the Italian actor's voices and of the crowd noise is superior. It is amazing to me that an Italian could be so sensitively in tune with one of the English language's most sublime works.

Zeffirelli wanted to make a movie that spoke to youth and he succeeded, to put it very mildly. If school systems were smart, they'd pack up their freshmen and sophomores on buses every year, drive them to a local theatre and show them this movie. I can't think of a better investment in young people's education that could be made. It worked for me.
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The best I have ever seen
JFClift15 May 2005
I have seen multiple versions of R&J, from the 30's version, with Leslie Howard (in his 40's I think) & Norma Shearer, to the most recent thing with DeCaprio & Danes. None of them touched me in the way that Zefferelli's did, & continues to do. It was one of the first DVD's I bought, because I can watch it again & again, & still be heartbroken by the ending.

The thing that shook me most the first time I saw it was that, in spite of the Shakespearian language, I got the meaning of the characters' statements immediately. The Shakespearian language was not a barrier at all. I had previously had to spend anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes before I could begin to follow the dialogue....there was no lag time with this version. To me, it will always be the definitive film version of this classic.
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timbasa7713 July 2005
Easily the best Shakespeare film in history, mainly because it stays so true to what Shakespeare wrote and was undoubtedly his vision, yet is undeniably fresh and relevant and affecting, despite its Renaissance setting. It feels more modern and current than the soulless bluster of Baz Luhrmann's effort. Whosoever says Whiting and Hussey are anything short of fantastic as Romeo and Juliet needs to reconsider how they want Shakespeare acted. Do you want dramatic bluster and fist waving (which Hamlet specifically cautions against) or true raw emotion and feeling? These actors, mostly because they were so inexperienced, couldn't be more natural and true to their characters every step of the way. You truly believe that they are in love and it's a legitimate love, no just "crazy teens." And the rest of the cast - Jesus H. Christ! They're all fantastic. The Friar and Nurse were obscenely perfect, becoming among the most endearing characters ever filmed, and of course John McEnery is the best, most pathos-laden Mercutio ever, all stage, screen, TV, etc. renditions included. Michael York is a fabulous Tybalt, menacing, arrogant, headstrong, cruel, but ultimately sympathetic. Tybalt is after all just a petulant child - he's no evil tyrant, just a misguided bully, who certainly doesn't deserve to die. I love that his killing of Mercutio is accidental and that he seems to show remorse for it. Even the Prince is really damn good, with his last lines leaving an absolutely chilling impression on the audience. All are punish-ed! A must see.
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A masterpiece: a very special and emotionally powerful movie
Jaylin7 May 2005
Words cannot express how much I love "Romeo and Juliet". This is my favorite movie, my one and only cult movie, and by far the most beautiful I've ever seen. I wish I had already been born in 1968 to be able to see it in a theater! I happened to watch it on TV for the first time in 1986 as a little girl, and I just thought that Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey were the most gorgeous people and the best-matched couple ever. Then I saw it a second time about ten years later, and was so impressed by it that I found it hard to sleep that night, and quickly became obsessed with it. It overwhelmed me in indescribable ways, and still does so today. In fact, whenever I watch this movie, it haunts me for weeks, and never fails to make me feel like crying in the end. It's a bit weird, really. I can't get enough of it, yet I don't want to watch it too often, because it moves me so deeply... There's definitely something about it that makes it very special. As a matter of fact, it's the only movie that brings me joy and sadness at the same time. Firstly, this is the definitive version of Shakespeare's play. Forget Norma Shearer and Leslie Howard, this is the real stuff, this is how it was meant to be, bursting with life and passion! Everything seems perfect in it: the sets, the colors and the lavish costumes, the music (there's so much to say about Nino Rota's exceptional score alone!), and the cast of course (not only do we have incredibly realistic and top-notch performances by the two lead actors, but the rest of the cast, including Michael York, Milo O'Shea and John McEnery, is also very good). The extraordinary thing about Leonard and Olivia is that they looked just the way one would imagine Romeo and Juliet, pure, sweet and innocent. Whenever I hear talking about Romeo and Juliet, I can't help thinking about them both. Another extraordinary thing is that Zeffirelli had another actress in mind (with blonde hair!) before he finally chose Olivia after a second test. Neither Olivia nor Leonard were experienced actors, yet they delivered stunning performances. They didn't know each other before filming, but it turned out they had wonderful chemistry on-screen, and definitely set the standard as the perfect Romeo and Juliet. I was not surprised to learn that Leonard fell in love with his co-star during the shooting of the movie. I mean, who could blame him? Nino Rota was a very talented film music composer, but he had never written such a beautiful score beforehand. He was extraordinarily inspired when he wrote this one. Considering all these elements, I think this movie is nothing short of a miracle. Granted, it's an old movie. You can see it was shot in 1968. So what? This doesn't prevent it from being very emotionally powerful. I don't think Zeffirelli could have given a more romantic and poignant rendition of this mythical love story. He filmed the two leading actors with grace and sensitivity, and love has never been better indeed. Besides, I think he perfectly captured the quintessence of the play. What else can I say? I love this movie with all my heart. To me it's a jewel, a work of art. And it has its own universe... it's just mesmerizing.
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The ULTIMATE love story on film - ever!
Philaura26 January 1999
Exquisite. The beauty, the innocence, the undeniable - all consuming fire of first love portrayed to the hilt. Juliet's delicate grace was breathtaking. I was totally convinced by this young acting team that they were as in love as is humanly possible. One can smell and taste 14-15th century Italy while following the locations. The performers, everyone, are as genuinely sincere in their humor and passions as one could possible imagine, bringing to life Shakespere's words like I've never seen before.

I cry every time I see it - all the way through. Mr. Zeffrelli, you are the best.
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Zeffirelli the esthete.
dbdumonteil6 March 2002
There were not many directors like Zeffirelli around during those golden years -sixties and seventies -of the Italian cinema.Because he was not part of the champagne socialists,because he made movies completely devoid of social concerns,he was generally dismissed by the European critics (and his fellow colleagues) as non-hip and reactionary. When you see these movies today,you realize how much they have worn well,and how much his detractors were wrong:Zeffirelli has never tried to change the world,but he has given beautiful movies which have stood the test of time quite well,perhaps because they are timeless.Even an epic and absorbing -and diametrically opposite to Zeffirelli's cinema - political work like Bertolucci's "Novecento" (1976) displays cheesy gauchism so trendy before the eighties in Europa .

This is the second of the three Zeffirelli screen adaptations of Shakespeare -as a matter of interest,the others are "taming of the shrew"(1967 with E Taylor and R Burton) and "Hamlet" (1990 with M.Gibson and G.Close)-and it 's probably the best:Zeffirelli's genius was to cast actors (about) the age of the heroes as the leads.And Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey,both very beautiful,make up for their lack of experience with their youth,their innocence and the intensity of their looks.They are far better than Leonardo Di Caprio and Claire Danes in the drag queens cum west side story Luhrmann's 1996 version.Besides they get strong support from dark-haired Mickael York as Tybalt and John MCEnnery as Mercutio.The colors are,as always in a Zephirelli movie (see taming,and his made-for-TV Jesus)dazzling.Two scenes stand out:the ball and the lovers death in the Capulet tomb.

Filmed on location in Verona,we never have the feeling that we are watching filmed stage production,not a small feat.This is the definitive screen version of the Elizabethan classic.Sir Laurence Olivier is the narrator.
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A lovely rendering of Shakespeare
casey-999 November 2004
Truly one of the best films ever created of Shakespeare's plays. While in today's MTV - short attention span world this film may seem boring, in 1968 this film was revolutionary (I am not prejudice since I am in the MTV generation). Until this time R&J had been played by much older actors, since it was assumed they could understand Shakespeare's language. In 1968, Franco Z. gives us actors the actual age of Shakespeare's lead characters and they can act. Add to that stunning sets, costumes and music, the result is a moving artistic creation. The performances are superb, my personal favorites being Michael York's Tybalt and Milo O'Shea's the Friar. The language can be difficult and the action plotting, but one has to have patience when devoting attention to Shakespeare's plays, acted or read. Enjoy!
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Definitive screen adaptation of R & J
connie_champagne22 December 2004
This is a gorgeous film, and the best adaptation of Shakespeare's famous tear-jerker. All the performances are spot-on. Even though the film was released in 1968, it still rings true. It was filmed on location in Italy, and the sets/costumes really amazing. Zefferelli's (sp?)direction is probably his best. John McHenry, Leonard Whiting as and Olivia Hussey are wonderful. I believe Michael York of Austin Powers' fame made his screen debut in the role of Tybalt. This movie is a must-see for aspiring actors. The cast is more even than the Di Caprio/Luhrman/Danes more recent (and more well-known) histrionic, violent version. (The ridiculous accents in that picture really put me off.) I don't know if it's available on DVD.
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Keeps Some of the Poetry
tedg19 June 2000
Zefferelli is a sporadic master. Here he is in his prime. See how he understands how to direct groups, how to continue a motion from one frame to the next, how to use color to punctuate.

What has happened here is that he has hit on a formula that works toward the problem of moving Shakespeare (a verbal, intellectual event) into film (a matter of motion and image).

It works because the play can be cast largely in terms of crowds, sometimes mobs. Never have I seen this done so well.

Much of the verbal poetry is cut, and image poetry replaced in sufficient measure to satisfy. Mercutio is rightly seen as the heart of the play, balanced by the Nurse. Both are terrific.

Oh how I wish we could combine the cinematic skills of young Zefferelli with the Shakespearian insights of Branagh and the imagination of Greenaway to do, say a Lear. Bliss in the imagining.
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love has never been better
christinaito6 June 2004
I remember the first time I saw this production of Romeo and Juliet. It was a broadcast from Swedish television and it must have been in 1988 or so. I knew the story of Romeo and Juliet off course, but never had I imagined that it would be able to capture me as it did. I was a cynical teenager who suddenly, while watching this film, found myself crying and really feeling the pain and anguish that the two lovers went through...The fact that I didn't know any of the cast(except Michael York-Tybalt) made it so much better! Made it somehow more real. When I saw it again, this time in highschool, senior year,I felt it again...The strong love between Romeo and Juliet. Since then I haven't experienced any film that could do that.I have seen it again a few years ago, and the exact same feeling hit me. Love has never been displayed better on screen than this! But off course, the script was written of one of the greatest writers of all time...But compared to other productions of this play, this one stands out as the very best! Love has never been better!
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Stunning portrayal of Shakespeare's romantic tale of woe
roghache3 March 2006
If you're a fan of the Bard's timeless tale of forbidden young love, and even if you're not, then you're in for a treat. Franco Zefferelli's spectacular cinematic version of Romeo and Juliet eclipses all others. Don't even bother with Leonardo DiCaprio or any of the other renditions that pale by comparison. This is the real Romeo and Juliet as Shakespeare himself, lived he in our era,would have orchestrated its filming.

From the opening scenes at Capulet's ball, you'll be transported from this time and place to Renaissance Verona. It's a real period piece and worth watching for the sets and costumes alone. Stunning cinematography with sweeping colorful panoramas...the period ball, the dueling and crowd scenes, the morbid tomb...

The young actors, Leonard Whiting at 17 and Olivia Hussey at 15, are the age Shakespeare intended and magnificently portray the "star crossed lovers" with very believable chemistry. Olivia's Juliet has the right mix of youthful innocence and passionate intensity. With her masses of long black tresses, no wonder Romeo declares "she doth teach the torches to burn bright". The balcony scene, brilliantly filmed, rings true and the wedding night (actually morning after) is touchingly and tastefully done, even with its hint of nudity for the teenage stars.

The movie has a superb supporting cast, including John McEnry as Romeo's hot tempered and humorous friend, Mercutio, and Michael York as Juliet's rather despicable cousin, Tybalt. Personally, I find Mercutio's death the most moving in all Shakespeare. Although the feuding Montague and Capulet parents are supposed to be the villains of the piece, Lord Capulet actually seems quite sympathetic in his moving portrayal of grief in the loss of his daughter.

No spoiler warning here. This quintessential tale of doomed love is familiar to everyone. However, these stars give such compelling performances that you'll be longing for a different ending, riveted to your seat praying the messages will get through properly this time. Whiting and Hussey deliver such grief and passion in the final tomb scene, you'll experience this tragedy as never before.

Apart from omitting Romeo's killing of Paris (my sole complaint), the movie is true to the major events of the play. And it's hard to fault the dialogue. Despite occasional omissions and minor alterations, it was written by the English language's foremost expert. My son, normally an enthusiast of Shakespeare's tragedies, claims with some justification, that this particular play is a silly, unbelievable tale, though told with absolute brilliance. Even if you're not normally a Shakespeare buff, don't miss this amazing movie. Seeing his timeless "tale of woe" brought to life so compellingly and in such a magnificent manner might just turn you into one.
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Cinematic perfection!
mattie510 August 2007
Listening to the music of Nino Rota, my thoughts return to the absolutely flawless Zefferelli production of "Romeo and Juliet." This movie is the sublime orchestration of acting, sets, costumes, cinematography and that exquisitely haunting music. This is the standard; subsequent versions need not be attempted.

When I first saw the movie in 1968 I was overwhelmed by it, particularly the guileless acting of the two leads, Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting. Appreciation for the artistry of the movie has not been diminished by more recent viewings, but rather increased. Each viewing allows for serendipitous glimpses of the many exquisite details, all finely woven into a timeless classic.

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The greatest film yet made
edmund-marlowe18 June 2014
This is as near perfection as I can conceive a film coming. Though I have limited toleration of reseeing films, I have seen this one about a dozen times. I am still in awe of its beauty and invariably streaming with tears at its ending.

If aspiring to make a stupendous film about love, it does of course help to choose a story standing so high above others of its kind that it has become a byword for romance. As one should be able to (but cannot) take for granted with a dialogue already supplied by the greatest playwright ever, it has been only occasionally and gently edited for vocabulary. Zeffirelli made however some very judicious cuts to bring his film down to a suitable length. Gone therefore are most of Romeo's professions of love for Rosaline, his duel with Paris and the little detective story near the end whereby the love story is finally explained to all. At the risk of sounding presumptuous, I would say Zeffirelli improved Shakespeare's story with the removal of these distractions.

I found every single actor well-cast and brilliant, the nurse possibly the best. The only fault I found was that Friar Lawrence's incongruous Irish accent grated a little. The lovers were suitably beautiful, which again one might hope one could take for granted with such a topic, but cannot. It is extraordinary that Zeffirelli was the first film director to have the sense to cast teenagers in the leading roles, as Shakespeare obviously intended. Both story and dialogue are otherwise patently absurd. Not only Romeo and Juliet, but also their companions impart perfectly the innocence, passion, swagger, spontaneity, charm and eros of Renaissance youth.

The mild but exquisite eroticism of the bedroom scene was essential; there can be no moment when beautiful nudity is more strongly called for than in the sole such scene of a film celebrating young physically-inspired love. I only wish Zeffirelli could have gone further despite our puritanical society. It is a particular shame as he had the sense and good taste to pay homage to the beauty of both sexes.

The period-perfect Italian settings and ravishing costumes are so authentic and beautiful that many of the scenes look exactly like Renaissance paintings, in other words some of the most beautiful images ever made. For me, however, the crème de la crème is the one of these visual feasts where we are simultaneously treated to a youth's singing of the superbly apt theme song, What is a Youth?, itself the most beautiful song I know of.

Edmund Marlowe, author of Alexander's Choice, a modern tragedy of forbidden love,
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The Quintessential Version of Shakespeare's Great Romantic Tragedy
ozthegreatat4233019 May 2007
It would take an Italian Director, Zeffirelli, to adequately film the most famous love story/tragedy in history and make it work beautifully. Filmed in Italy and actually using teenage actors to play the star-crossed lovers at the right age (for the first time ever) brought great veracity and a definite freshness to this story. The performances were uniformly outstanding and of course Nino Rota's touching sound score wove the whole thing together in a highly charged emotional work. It tends to take the viewer through the uncomfortable feeling of viewing a tragedy in the making, knowing what is to come, and being unable to do anything but helplessly watch as it comes to pass. This is the film- maker's art at its best, and it is a pity that the film did not win the Best Picture Academy Award in its year. If you have a love of Shakespeare at all this film is a simple must see.
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Awesome!!! Simply Awesome!!!
emee4real18 April 2007
What else can I say? This movie was simply fantastic I found myself watching it over and over again. Despite the fact that sometimes the dialog was not exactly the way Shakespeare himself put it (i. e. in the opening scene with the servants) the acting was great and completely convincing! We see 2 beautiful people-Whiting and Hussey-looking like Romeo and Juliet themselves as their creator put them. I also doff my hat for Michael York; he was absolutely brilliant as Tybalt and I must say that my liking for York has gone up several notches with this movie. Bruce Robinson was also pretty good as Benvolio. Mercutio had energy, wit and a rough common sense and John McEnery projects them all. There may be several differences between the movie and Shakespeare's play, but it doesn't take anything away from the acting and the movie in general. So I give it a 10 out of 10. Somebody says he prefers the 1996 version starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes to this one. My advice is-DON'T WATCH THAT VERSION, IT'S TERRIBLE!! This version has it all.
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Shakespeare's Immortal Take On Love and Revenge
lclc2u11 March 2005
This movie holds that same magic as it did when the movie first opened in 1968. The musical score is timeless. The moment Romeo and Juliet's eyes first meet; it begins. Their yearning for each other and their desire for each other is at a cost that they cannot know. It is an instant instinctual longing and their lives are about to be changed forever. Both of them experience an intensity that is bigger than both of them and they must see each other again. Juliet's nurse, who knows everything takes a bold step to see that her Juliet gets to see her Romeo. The events unfold and sadly, sides are strongly divided even by Juliet's beloved nursemaid. Juliet feels betrayed by her Nurse as she openly describes her disapproval of Romeo. Juliet now knows she no longer can confide in her. The innocence in Juliet striking out on her own to find a way to stay with her Romeo forever is filled with an emotional aching. Nothing will stop her. Experience this movie for yourself.
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Classic Shakespeare on film. Still the best version, I reckon, of R & J.
Kiwi-717 August 1998
I've seen this film heaps of times, and I still love it. The new version (Luhrmann's) turned some heads, and it's pretty classy too, but nothing can replace R&J as it was meant to be: in Italy, in the 14th/15th century, with swords and horses and "real" friars, with dust and heat and cobblestones, and period costumes.

For study purposes, note this film leaves out a few significant events that are in Shakespeare's script, such as Paris's death. No matter--the essence is caught and captured beautifully. Some nice performances from all the leads too.
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This is "the" film version to watch. The others all pale in comparison.
RockyMtnVideo28 February 2016
I'll make this relatively short. Others provide far more detailed reviews, but this has always held special meaning for me, so I finally decided to weigh in with some comments.

I saw this when it was originally released in the US, while I was a high school aged teen. It is difficult to describe the depth of its impact on me, mostly because it was such a perfect film. Zeffirelli's genius abounds, in so many different ways, but aside from the genius of the film script (involving more than just him), by far, the primary thing that separates it from the long list of other "attempts" to film this story, was the casting of two actors in their early-to-mid teens (the proper age for the two protagonists), instead of using twenty (or in some film variants, thirty) year old actors in those roles, as had been done in so many previous efforts. Having actors in other films who were sometimes twice the appropriate age for those roles, attempting to pull off those performances, simply never rang true.

Second only to the casting, was the absolutely perfect "tone" of the entire film. Filmed in Verona, where the play was obviously set, plus the cinematography, and then the unbelievably perfect score, all facilitated its translation from its original stage-based home, to what is a true film masterpiece.

It is the actors' (appropriately) youthful innocence, and that perfect tone, that make this depiction of the tragedy stand out, from other efforts. It is also what makes it so "rewatchable". You can't help falling in love with them again, in each viewing, as you watch them (so innocently) fall in love with each other. And, when that seminal moment plays out against the backdrop of the soulful rendition of "What is Youth", the "hook is set", and despite the inevitable train wreck that is coming, it's just impossible to walk away, because you are (yet again) simply too invested in these two teens' tragic journey.

To be fair about the age comment, I should say that I'm not blind to other film interpretations, which have utilized age-appropriate actors, e.g. Luhrmann's take on R&J. But the varied attempts (like his) to take the play, and place it in some bizarrely modern setting, have never really worked for me. It just feels "awkward" (like a square peg in a round hole). The only time that I have been comfortable with some R&J inspired story is when someone simply takes the basic theme, and retools it entirely, e.g. the classic, and equally tragic "West Side Story" being a perfect example.

In short, this is simply one of the most moving, and beautiful films that you could ever hope to see, regardless of whether you are, or are not, into Shakespearean classics. And it would be difficult to imagine anyone ever doing a better job of translating this play into film. (For insight into Zeffirelli's scripting choices, I would highly recommend reading film-222's IMDb review. See:
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A frankly good movie about the immortal and tragic story of the Verona's young lovers
ma-cortes14 February 2015
This lavish British-Italian production about ill-fated and star-crossed lovers deals about the Montagues and the Capulets, two powerful families of Verona , hate each other . They are two feuding families whose young sons Romeo (Leonard Whiting) and Juliet (Olivia Hussey) meet and fall in love and whose passion for one another is irresistible. Romeo, son of Montague, crashes a Capulet party, and there meets Juliet, daughter of Capulet . They fall passionately in love . Since their families would disapprove, they marry in secret . There are many obstacles on the way and they have to hide their love from the world because both know which their parents will not allow them to be together . The prince of Verona has prohibited duels and fights, but Tybaldo Capulet (Michael York) kills Mercutio (Peter MacEnery) and Romeo Montague as revenge murders gets in a fight with Tybalt , nephew of Lady Capulet, and kills him . Romeo . He is banished from Verona. Capulet, not knowing that his daughter is already married, proceeds with his plans to marry Juliet to Paris , a prince . This puts Juliet in quite a spot, so she goes to the sympathetic Friar Laurence (Milo O'Shea), who married her to Romeo. He suggests a daring plan to extricate her from her fix . Tragedy ensues. The priest friend prepares a potion for Juliet to simulate her death. Then Romeo is banished to Mantua when he receives the news that Juliet has dead, and happen their tragic destiny.

This is one of the best filmed and most pleasant adaptations of Shakespeare's play about a young love is poisoned by a generations long feud between two noble families . Lush Production Design by Lorenzo Mongiardino and being well-performed, two protagonists are adequate for the roles, as at the play they were fifteen and fourteen years old respectively . The first major film production of this play to actually cast leading actors who were close to the ages of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Julietn. Franco Zeffirelli needed to get special permission to show teenaged Olivia Hussey topless in one scene. Leonard Whiting, who was from Great Britian, was 17 at the time and did not need permission . This is considered to be the best version based on known play by William Shakespeare , though is handicapped because the overlong of this romantic flick . This sumptuously version has the virtue of good and appealing casting, such as John McEnery as Mercutio, Michael York as Tybalt ,Bruce Robinson as Benvolio, Milo O'Shea as Friar Laurence , first cinema film of Pat Heywoodas The Nurse and Robert Stephens as The Prince of Verona . And Laurence Olivier , he agreed to play the uncredited role of the narrator because he was so impressed with Zeffirelli's work for the National Theatre of Great Britain, of which Olivier was director at the time and he did it all for the love of William Shakespeare and didn't accept any payment. Exquisitely cinematography by Pasqualino De Santis, a magnificent Italian cameraman , being shot on evocative location in Verona . Hauntingly wonderful musical score by the classic composer Nino Rota , including unforgettable melody . Splendidly directed by Franco Zeffirelli , he initially planned the film as a television production , then Paramount became involved and increased the budget. Anyone interested in tragic love tales and timeless stories will want to watch this cinematic version on Shakespeare tragedy.

Other versions about this know story are the followings : the vintage classic, Romeo and Juliet(36)by George Cukor with Norma Shearer and Leslie Howard; Renato Castenalli rendition with Laurence Harvey , Susan Shentall , Flora Robson Bill Travers and Enzo Fiermonte , Mervyn Johns ; a dance adaptation(1966) by Paul Czinner with Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn; famous rendition(1968) by Franco Zeffirelli with Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey; and modern version(1996) by Baz Luhrmann with Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes . Being recently shot the followings : Romeo y Julieta (2013)by Carlo Carlei with Hailee Steinfeld , Douglas Booth , Damian Lewis , Laura Morante ,Tomas Arana , Kodi Smit-McPhee , Natascha McElhone , Stellan Skarsgård and Romeo and Juliet (2014) by Don Roy King with Orlando Bloom as Romeo and Condola Rashad as Juliet .
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A faithful adaption of a classic love story
SHB_7313 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
William Shakespeare's Tale of Romeo and Juliet comes to life in this wonderful movie which is superbly acted by then unknown actors Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting as the famous lovers. The story takes place in Verona, Italy between two rival families:The Capulets and Montagues, unfortunately Romeo who is a Montague falls for Juliet, a Capulet. They are so in love that they are secretly married but the families have so much hatred for each other which results in sword fights that bring deaths to both sides and Results in Romeo being exiled. Not knowing Juliet is married her father betrothed her to another man. With the help of a Friar(Milo O'Shea)Juliet devises a plan to reunite with her love Romeo, But the plan goes horribly wrong with disastrous consequences. Franco Zeffirelli's movie is wonderful from beginning to end and even though we know what happens at the end of this tragic love story, it can still be emotional and heartbreaking. Never was their a tale of woe, than that of Juliet and her Romeo. I highly recommend this movie.
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Opened my eyes to the wonders of Shakespeare
pesavent25 July 2004
This movie opened me to the wonders of Shakespeare, not to mention the beauties of Leonard Whiting. The music and the settings were so majestic and fulfilling. I would suggest this movie to anyone who has a curiosity of Romeo and Juliet, it still stands well 35 years later - forget that trash done by DiCaprio.

The theme song still stands as one of my favorite pieces of music - I will stop and listen when it so infrequently comes on the radio. Take the opportunity to rent this movie or see if you can catch it on television - it does show up now and then. A treat for all the senses.
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The Definitive Interpretation of this Story?
gavin694216 June 2016
When the now-famous "star-crossed lovers" of two feuding families meet, forbidden love ensues.

Film critic Roger Ebert has written: "I believe Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet is the most exciting film of Shakespeare ever made". I don't know about that sentiment, but it certainly is the best version of the story ever filmed. I mean, you can say some great things about the Leonardo DiCaprio version, and some might appreciate "Tromeo and Juliet", but this really captures the story...

This makes a great breakout role for Olivia Hussey (who never got as big as she should have). But also, who plays the monk? I absolutely loved his character, and it is a role that I think goes largely unnoticed in most variations.
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Kirpianuscus13 September 2015
its freshness. it has the difference by another adaptations. it impose the vision of Zeffireli to be not only seductive but realistic. each detail, each scene, the song, the tension, the atmosphere, all is Shakespeare. sure, the director has experience in opera. sure, the mark of Zeffirelli is the axis of the success. but it is only a part from the force of film. the fragility of gestures, the feelings of an one age, the beauty of words who becomes the words of the viewer not exactly the lines of characters, the state of soul, all, each are the key of a memorable discover of the play. something soft and with the status of personal memory transforms Romeo and Juliet in personal experience of the public. and that is one motif for admire it.
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