326 of 331 people found the following review helpful
on September 12, 1998
I saw this film approximately 20 times during my college years. Franco Zeffirelli's production was revolutionary for 1967, in using teenage actors for the tragic Romeo and Juliet, and his choices were perfection: the young Olivia Hussey is a heartbreakingly beautiful, vulnerable and courageous Juliet, while Leonard Whiting is a sensitive, poetically handsome and appealing Romeo. Zeffirelli's career as a director of opera is put to spectacular use here--each scene is meticulously crafted to be an accurate representation of an actual Renaissance scene. Stunningly beautiful clothing, furniture, food, glass, sculpture--it is an overwhelming feast for the eyes. The backgrounds are the preserved medieval towns of Northern Italy, and the gorgeous settings, such as the Borghese palace for the balcony scene, give the entire film the appearance of an animated Renaissance painting. Zeffirelli took some liberties with Shakespeare's original script,excising some of it for the sake of brevity, but unless you are a die-hard Shakespeare purist, it is a minor flaw in this unforgettable film. The other key roles are acted to perfection by classically-trained performers like Robert Stephens, Michael York and John McEnery (a fiery and very exciting Tybalt and Mercutio). I never saw it in a theater without the sound of many girls weeping aloud by the end of the film--I was often one of them. Leslie Howard was a better actor, and Leonardo DiCaprio/Clare Danes are more contemporary, but if you love beauty, this is THE quintessential Romeo and Juliet on film. END
167 of 175 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2002
I was practically forced to see this movie in High School. When our English teacher announced that we would be watching Romeo & Juliet, the entire class sighed. About 30 seconds into the flick, Olivia Hussey graced us with her angelic presence. Sweet Lord in heaven I don't think I've EVER seen a more beautiful woman. My male counterparts were in awe. Unlike other sexy stars today who are actresses in their own mind & couldn't win a certificate of completion in a sock puppet show...Olivia Hussey was FANTASTIC. Let's not cut the rest of the cast short. Zeffirelli took a big risk casting no names in the title rolls, but Whiting & Hussey had a chemistry that looked so damn believable it appeared more as a reality based docudrama than acting.
It has been 12 years since I first saw the picture & it still mesmerizes me. I cannot channel surf past this movie without watching it in its entirety. 1/2 way through, 10 minutes remaining...it doesn't matter. It may have something to do with the major crush that I STILL have on Olivia Hussey...(God how old is she now??? 51???) Really though, the movie is fantastic. Give it a chance. If it is your first Shakespeare film, you will not be disappointed. If you're a teeny bopper who was drawn into Baz Luhrmann version mainly due to Leonardo's box office draw, Please see the real thing. I'm not knocking Baz, but "Aint nothing like the real thing baby."
For never was a story of more woe. Than this of Juliet and her Romeo. (Not Decaprio) ;)
97 of 107 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 1999
Franco Zeffirelli's Oscar winning 1968 Romeo And Juliet is a revolutionary masterpiece! This is a flamboyant and very popular adaptation of the famous Shakespearean tragedy, in which actual teenagers play the leads. Two young lovers, who come from feuding families, desperately wish to stay together. They go to a gentle friar for help, and, in hopes their wedding will end the conflict, he comes up with an ingenious plot to unite them. However, when a miscommunication destroys their plans, they make a tragic decision - a decision that brings peace, but too late to help the lovers themselves.
Olivia Hussey is the heartbreakingly beautiful, vulnerable, and courageous woman, who shines as sweet Juliet. Leonard Whiting's poetic good looks, sensitivity, and cleverness, make his portrayal of young Romeo seem unparalleled. In addition, Michael York is outstanding as the feisty Tybalt, John McEnery is brilliant as lively punster Mercutio, and Milo O'Shea is absolutely wonderful as the ever so bright, Friar Lawrence.
Zeffirelli's career as an opera director is put to spectacular use here. Each scene is meticulously crafted to be an exact replica of the Renaissance with stunningly beautiful clothing, jewels, furniture, food, glass, and sculpture - it is an overwhelming feast for the eyes. The preserved medieval towns of Tuscany, and the lovely Borghese palace where the balcony scene is set, give the film the look of an animated Renaissance painting. Zeffirelli took some liberties with Shakespeare's original script for the sake of brevity, but unless you are a die-hard purist, this is a minor flaw.
The true shining star in this film is the delightful, Ms. Pat Heywood who steals the screen with each moment she graces it. She plays Juliet's Nurse and does so with such power, whimsy, and conviction that you simply must love her. Pat Heywood gave the commonly droll Nurse character life and vibrancy I have yet to see in a performance of this play live of filmed. In either case, the characters in this film play extraordinary parts and they do it with such poignancy!
50 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 1998
Franco Zefirrelli's 1967 film was revolutionary in using teenaged actors to play the two most famous lovers of all literature. Olivia Hussey is heartbreakingly beautiful, a vulnerable and courageous Juliet, while Leonard Whiting's poetic good looks make him a sensitive and appealing Romeo. Zefirrelli's career as an opera director is put to spectacular use here--each scene is meticulously crafted to be an exact replica of the Renaissance. Stunningly beautiful clothing, jewels, furniture, food, glass, sculpture--it is an overwhelming feast for the eyes. The preserved medieval towns of Tuscany, and the lovely Borghese palace where the balcony scene is set, give the film the look of an animated Renaissance painting. Zefirrelli took some liberties with Shakespeare's original script for the sake of brevity, but unless you are a die-hard purist, this is a minor flaw. I saw this film a dozen times in the theater, and never without the sound of girls weeping by the end--I was often one of them. Leslie Howard was a better actor, and Leonardo DiCaprio/Clare Danes more modern, but if you love beauty, this is THE quintessential Romeo and Juliet on film. END
109 of 132 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2003
Like a lot of people my age, I first saw this as a 13 yr old student in the spring of '69...it had a huge influence on me then, one that has probably echoed through my life and my tastes in film (classics, Shakespeare, period movies, etc.) as I was at that very suggestable age.
In all fairness, this movie is 36 years old and yes, the teen stars would be in their 50s by now. This means some aspects of the film are unavoidably dated...how couldn't they be? It was intended to be a Romeo and Juliet for the hip baby boom teenagers of the 60s! Visually, it exploited the similarity in "hippie" clothes and Beatle hairstyles to very real styles of the late 15th century, right down to the girls with their hair parted in the center and worn long and straight. (Check out ANY high school year book from the late sixties and early seventies!) At the time it came out, this was a revolutionary and remarkable idea; also casting real teenagers in the parts.
Franco Zeffirelli originally produced this kind of a Romeo and Juliet on stage in '62, casting Judy Dench (yes, the "M" from the newer Bond movies...she was a young hottie 40 years ago), and using the same kind of pseudo real Renaissance setting. This '68 film followed his highly successful version of Taming of the Shrew with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
The costumes and location filming in R&J are still gorgeous and hold up very well. Few movies set in this Renaissance period even today are so accurate. Danilo Donati's costumes are just amazingly beautiful. (A whole generation of brides were married in high-wasted dresses after seeing this.) Nino Rota's musical score is lush and beautiful, slightly resembling his score for the Godfather. You still catch the theme from R&J on the radio sometimes (or in elevators); it's the ultimate in romatic scores.
Olivia Hussey, 16 at the time of filming, is radiantly beautiful and has a wonderful, husky voice. She does a remarkable job despite her youth and lack of acting experience. I think she has influenced the way Juliet's have been cast and acted for the last 30+ years -- even Baz Luhrman has obviously seen and been affected by her. There is a BBC version of the play in which the actress virtually mimicks her line readings. Sadly, I think she was typecast from this role and never went anywhere careerwise. The last things I saw her in were pathetic horror films, like Pscho 4. I don't think Hollywood knew what to do with her lush, delicate beauty.
Leonard Whiting is much less successful. Franco Zeffirelli is gay, and his intepretation of Romeo is clearly meant to be homosexual or at least bisexual. Leonard Whiting was a handsome, but slightly effeminate boy and he's not got nearly the grasp of the material or the acting ability of Olivia Hussey -- they seem mismatched. There is a subplot interpretation of Mercutio as having some kind of sexual attraction or relationship with Romeo. It is interesting, but unbalances the story a bit.( I didn't notice this when I was a teen, but as an adult viewing the film it is absolutely glaringly obvious.)
I notice a lot of debate as to whether THIS or the Baz Luhrman film of '96 is the definitive version...I think that's stupid. Shakespeare has been around a long time. This is his most produced play. There is room for LOTS of difference interpretations. I have seen many others on the stage. And there will be billions more in the future. I like Baz Luhrman's version, although I think his creative inventiveness (which is wonderful) flys out of control by the end of the film; however it's good and interesting, a visionary treatment and it's very worthwhile to view BOTH of these films to get a sense of what it is to try and film Shakespeare.
Zeffirelli's version offers a very pared down script, lots of authentic looking visuals and very exciting and well-staged fight sequences; plus gorgeous costumes and music. Olivia Hussey's Juliet is absolutely a classic, moving interpretation that I have never seen performed better on stage or in film.
In short -- anyone who loves Shakespeare, or Romeo and Juliet, or lush period flicks, will totally be absorbed in this beautiful film. It's also a wonderful, easy-to-take, never-boring, introduction to Shakespeare and from there, his other works. Would I have become a Shakespeare buff at such an early age without having been introduced to the material this way? I doubt it!
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 1999
Romeo And Juliet - No Ordinary Love Story...
Franco Zeffirelli's Oscar winning 1968 masterpiece was filmed in Italy (Verona, I believe though I'm not 100% sure of that). The film is rich in costume and scenery and the performers are simply extraordinary. Olivia Hussey (Death On The Nile; It; Psycho IV: The Beginning; etc.,) shines as sweet Juliet, Leonard Whiting's (Frankenstein: The True Story; The Legend Of Young Dick Turpin; Rachel's Man; etc.,) portrayal of young Romeo is unparralled and of course Michael York (Logan's Run; The Island Of Dr. Moreau; Austin Powers; etc.,) is outstanding as fiesty Tybalt. But the true shining star in this film is the delightful, Ms. Pat Heywood (Who Slew Auntie Roo?; Root Into Europe; etc.,) The Secret Garden; who steals the screen with each moment she graces it. She plays Juliet's Nurse and does so with such power, whimsy and conviction that you simply must love her. Pat Heywood gave the commonly droll Nurse character life and vibrance I have yet to see in a performance of this play live or filmed. The scene where she goes to the church to meet Romeo is absolutely side-splitting!
My sole complaint with this film was that there was a bit of trimming done to the original script. Some of the dialogue was cut down, but only true, hard-core Shakespeare fans would likely notice. You've tried the rest? Then watch the BEST!
Concerning the ages of the stars: I include this mainly as a side note, for it's been my experience that there is always some confusion, question and disagreement concerning the age of the young stars. Here is their birth information in hopes of settling any debates. Hussey was born April 17th 1951 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Leonard Whiting was born June 30th 1950 in London, England, UK and Michael York was nearly ten years their senior (May 27th, 1942 - in Fulmer, Buckinghamshire, England, UK).
Not that it's ever been a debate -- as far as I know it hasn't -- but I do not know Ms. Heywood's birthday...Just for the record :)
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2005
We are currently reading R+J in my English Lit class. We were given the chance to view two films: Zeffirelli's classic and Luhrmans version. Zeffirelli's blew me away. I love the fact that finally the two characters are played by people of the correct age, people who would actually understand how Romeo and Juliet were feeling, how they would react. The various productions with twenty-somethings in the lead role just do not seem to have the same naivity, innocence and "first-love" that is essential. Olivia Hussy and Leonard Whiting capture it perfectly.
A must see
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 2006
I first watched this movie as a college freshman in 1969. I first watched this movie with a young woman who was friend of mine at the time. I won't give the movie all the credit, but 3 years later we were married. This a beautifully done movie, with a great sound track. A wonderful introduction to Shakespeare. My wife used it for years to teach Shakespeare to her HS English/Lit students. Watched it again recently by myself as my wife is no longer with us, the movie and the memories of watching with her as 18 year old kids brought tears to my eyes. Highly recommended.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2000
I had worn out my video copy of this fine film. The Whiting/Hussey pairing is just phenominal. Two unknowns, at the time, really deliver the passion. This sure kills the most recent version, with Clair Danes and Leo, which is filmed like a two hour MTV video nightmare. I think a Leo and Danes traditional R&J would have been interesting. The sets in this 1968 version are delicious. The cinematography and other technical aspects reallly shine on the DVD's clear images. It's always amazing to compare the DVD to the video. Once again the DVD presents radiant images that really bring a film to life. If you buy this DVD be aware that essentially you get a beautiful, well acted, well crafted film, but you don't get much of what we've come to expect on DVDs. No documentary, commentary, background information, alternate scenes are provided. For me, the beauty of the crystal clear images is worth the price of the DVD. For me, Juliet will always be Olivia Hussey... When I read the play I still see her face delivering the lines. This is one of the finest Shakespeare adaptations to film.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2005
There are few things on this planet that bring me joy and at the same time sadness. Romeo and Juliet is one of them. No other movie besides this have I felt so much over fictinous characters in my entire life. I have been told and learned that love is beautiful and when you see your soulmate it is magical, but I learned myself what true love is. I wa so tied into this epic of a movie that I told myself it was real, this wasn't a movie. It felt real, as if I was watching it in live action not just on a screen. Everything was perfect in this movie. The clothing made it more realistic, the actors were selected as if by God for these parts, the music and the scenery. the scenery was just breath taking and made everything imaginable. If shakespeare as alive today, I think he would be very, very fond of this movie. In fact, I think he would love it and be very proud. Romeo and Juliet is a play which can be extorted in different ways to suit the directors need, Zeffirelli took this play and created a in-living-colour masterpeice. I am so jelous that my father, who was a freshman in high school when this came out, was able to on a field trip go to hollywood to see this in theaters. This is my favourite movie for many reasons, one of them being it makes me bawl so hard I practically melt away my face, it makes me understand love in a different view (i'm fifteen.) and I have fallen in love with Shakespeare's work. I think of Shakespeare is a shear genuis. How could someone think of a story like this? I know I couldn't, could you? I think the direct quite,"For never was a story of more woe, than this of Juliet and her Romeo." sums up everything perfectly.