Romeo & Juliet, 1968

dir. Franco Zeffirelli




This film is the ultimate ‘traditional’ telling of the story. The young sensuality of unfulfilled lust burns intensely between the notorious duo and Zeffirelli takes us right to the edge of what is acceptable to portray on camera, sexuality crackling between the lovers, just how it should be, just like it is in the real world, just like it was, remember? ‘Sexual discovery’. Those two must have had the biggest crush on each other for real to create those looks they give each other. I’m pretty certain of that because as the roles become more demanding so their apparent ability deteriorates until you end up with a shockingly poor climax and the lamest reaction I ever seen in a Romeo when he is told the bad news by Balthazaar.




It’s filmed on location in the real Verona, which is beautiful and special and clearly Shakespeare must had a deep understanding of Italian culture because the storyline and dialogue fits the setting like a glove.




Mercutio is FANTASTIC. The modern one played by Harold Perrineau (the compelling Michael from the television series Lost) is every bit a worthy contender, but this guy really pushes the envelope on how crazy Mercutio can be, clinically speaking. There is no doubt that Lurhmann references this original performance with Perrineau during the Queen Mab speech, which ends with a flustered and confused madman, shouting at the universe, lost in his own rage and confusion before Romeo tugs on his sleeve and brings him back down to earth.




But despite the gradual decline of skill from the leads as the movie progresses this film must deserve four stars as the first two thirds are so wonderful and adored by so many. It’s a typical example of the saying ‘they just don’t make ‘em like they used to’ because it’s so quaint, so simple, yet so utterly charming and enjoyable regardless of its shortcomings. Again, I imagine women will have a far better appreciation of this film than your average Schwarzenegger fan but nonetheless it was an ambitious project and well worthy of the critical acclaim it has received over the decades.




My favourite scene is the opening sequence – they go all out to have a full scale riot in the village. It is hilarious! Men, women, children, everyone joins the fray and by the time the Prince shows up the town square has been reduced to rubble.


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