“Zefirelli’s performers breathe understanding into every ornate phrase, translating the sixteenth-century prose into something fresh and modern.” – Common Sense Media
Argued by many to be one of the best Romeo and Juliet adaptations ever released, the 1968 version of the classic tale of tragedy features Franco Zeffirelli’s incredible eye and direction (if the Academy Awards aren’t proof enough of that) and stars Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey as the infamous, star-crossed lovers. This Shakespearean adaptation was welcomed warmly by both young audiences and critics; praised for its cast, sets and direction; and for being an overall fantastic and exciting take on an old plot that has been redone a thousand times over.
The film follows a centuries-old story about the feud of the Montagues and the Capulets, and the two young lovers caught in the crossfire of it all. It is a story that has been told and retold over and over and over, but what makes Zefirelli’s interpretation of this tale stand out is his unique eye and impeccable ability to present the old story with a fresh perspective, through a brand new lens. This, as proven by the film’s massive success and multiple awards, was something that both viewers and critics deeply appreciated.
Zefirelli is able to show the romance on screen in a way that makes the young lovers’ innocence shine, which is, all at the same time, reflective, inspirational and relatable – something that helped the film achieve the success that it did. The setting of the story and the way it was told had the uncanny ability to catch young people’s attention ans to reflect both their rebelliousness and the struggles they faced.
There is little to be said of Zefirelli and this film save that it is a well put-together piece of art that reaches out to viewers and touches both their minds and hearts.
The 1968 version of Shakespeare’s classic old tale is my favorite film adaptation so far. It gives off a very historic and simple feeling, which is how, I feel, Shakespeare would have intended any film adaptation of his great play. It does not play around too much with the script, or change the settings and characters all too much. The 1968 Romeo and Juliet adaptation stays largely true to Shakespeare’s original text. In addition, it does a splendid job of presenting the plight of the young lovers, who aspire for love in the face of adversity and their families’ war.