The 1978 adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic play has been said by many to bear the closest resemblance to the setting and script of the original play and dialogue. Set in Italy in the 1500’s as Shakespeare’s own Romeo and Juliet was, the BBC version of the old story about warring families and star-crossed lovers tries to depict the classic tale as closely to how Shakespeare intended it.
Released as a part of the BBC Television Shakespeare, a series of adaptations of William Shakespeare’s plays, this Romeo and Juliet adaptation is well-loved by many viewers despite not being widely advertised or well-known. Under the direction of Alvin Rakoff on a budget incomparable with most other big adaptations of the prized play that have been produced by the big-money Hollywood machine, the film successfully does what it is supposed to do – and that is tell the tale of the young, titular lovers. It manages to do this impressively so, given the resources that were alloted for it.
Patrick Ryecart, who plays Romeo and Rebecca Saire, who plays Juliet (and gained much attention for being only fourteen years old at the time of production) do a well enough job of portraying the two ill-fated lovers as what they are – young victims of the heart and the feud of grown-ups.
The film is quite direct and cut-and-dried in its approach to presenting the play in the media of film. Not to say that it is uncreative and an injustice to the work of Shakespeare, the film does a good job of telling the story and presenting the dialogue in a way that is both alluring and accurate. Preferred by lovers of the original play’s setting, characters, and dialogue, it is definitely a movie worth looking into if what you’re looking for is an adaptation that sticks to the script as much as possible.
If what you are going for is authenticity, then this film version of the play is the one for you. The BBC series that features many of Shakespeare’s works does an excellent job of presenting his plays through film and of course they did not miss out on Romeo and Juliet. As far as I have seen, this film adaptation of the old play comes closest to the original script when compared with other versions. It is set in Italy in the 1500’s, just as Shakespeare intended, and it follows the story of the Capulets and Montagues as close to the T as I’ve seen.