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"For never was a story of more woe, than this of Juliet and her Romeo",
This review is from: Romeo & Juliet (DVD)
"Two Households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes,
A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life;
Whose misadventured piteous overflows
Do with their death bury their parents' strife."
The above comes from the prologue of this fabulous film, directed by the great Franco Zeffirelli.
This is a British-Italian adaptation of William Shakespeare's (1564 to 1616) play of the same name (written circa 1595). The play is Shakespeare's only romantic tragedy.
This movie, set in the fifteenth century renaissance period, follows Shakespeare's plotline fully, and retains much of his dialogue but some small details have been changed. Certain scenes and dialogue from the play were omitted. They had to be or this movie would have been much too long.
The chemistry between the fifteen-year old Olivia Hussey (who plays Juliet Capulet) and the seventeen-year-old Leonard Whiting (who plays Romeo Montague, a part originally to be played by Paul McCartney) captures the essence of Shakespeare's play, which is about youth, desire, & death and captures the exhilaration of first love. (Indeed, it was teens, not Shakespeare fanatics, who made this the most financially successful Shakespearean film ever made at that time.) Both Hussey and Whiting act their parts with an awkward grace.
Sir Laurence Olivier spoke this film's prologue and epilogue. (The written play actually has no epilogue.) Look for a young Michael York in an important role.
The lavishly beautiful sets and costumes turn this film into a Renaissance painting (especially on DVD), and it's so sensuous that it seems you can almost smell the fruit in the Veronese marketplace. In fact, this movie won Academy Awards for "Best Cinematography" and "Best Costume Design."
(Note that on the back of this particular movie's DVD case, it says it received "four Academy Award nominations." This is not correct. It actually won two Academy Awards in the categories indicated above and was nominated for "Best Picture" and "Best Director.")
The background music is beautiful and adds to each scene. Note that the lyrics to this music was not written by Shakespeare.
This movie was filmed at various locations in Rome.
Finally, the DVD (the one released in 2000) is perfect in picture and audio quality. It has one extra.
In conclusion, this movie of the "star-crossed lovers" is most worthy to be included in William Shakespeare's cinematic canon. I leave you with a question Juliet asks in this movie:
"O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?"
(1968; 2 hr, 20 min; wide screen; 18 scenes)
<<Stephen Pletko, London, Ontario, Canada>>