Saturday, November 5, 2011

Film Review: Zeffirelli's 1968 'Romeo and Juliet'

Today, I watched the 1968 film version of 'Romeo and Juliet' directed and co-written by Franco Zeffirelli.

I studied the play 'Romeo and Juliet' by William Shakespeare last term for school in English and I absolutely loved it. Every single word and line, every hour spent studying and analyzing this amazing play was well spent I can assure you. It's amazing, it's spellbinding, it's Shakespeare and he is the bard. I read the entire play, an analyzing book of the play, and I am annoyed that I did not watch the film sooner.

What stopped me? Well, firstly I vaguely remember telling my dear mother when she was watching this ages ago that it looked like utter crap, laughed and then went back to my room. I'm kind of glad that I did not watch it then because I would not have been able to appreciate this masterpiece with my uneducated by Shakespeare yet mind. And then when I was doing 'Romeo and Juliet' in English I was literally dying to watch this version. I watched some on Youtube but all it did was increase my appetite for this movie. So I begged my mother to find this DVD but she lovingly assured me that she chucked it out. Then I begged her to try and look for it, which she did and failed. It was not in our house. We tore it up from the bottom to the top. So last week I went out for my daily walk, my runners are run down (I desperately need to buy new ones), and I got a big blister that peeled off leaving me with raw skin. I needed a band aid that night so I asked my dad for one (I couldn't locate where the actual supply was since I had only found one lone band aid in our laundry room.) And he told me it was in his bedside table drawer, the very top one. I looked and didn't locate it till he came and found it for me. While trying to find it myself, I opened the bottom drawer and there under a bag sat 'Romeo and Juliet' the 1968 film version by Franco Zeffirelli. I've been putting off watching it this week because it goes for 138 mins.

I loved the film. I loved everything, in fact there was not one thing I could criticize about it. (Which speaks volumes by itself to anyone who knows me very well). It was perfect and beautifully done. Do you know it won Academy Awards for Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design and that it was also nominated for Best Directer and Best Picture? Amazing.

Olivia Hussey plays 'Juliet' who is divinely beautiful and for this role she won the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year - Actress as well as the David di Donatello for best actress (It is the Italian equivalent to the Academy Award).

'Romeo' is played by Leonard Whiting a role which earned him the Golden Globe Award for New Star Of The Year - Actor. He looks a lot like Zac Efron except ten times more yummier. Vampire anyone? Even his mannerisms and his acting skills are like Zac Efron. Yumminess even in the 60s people. (:

I watched this film with subtitles on so I could read what they were saying. I'm not deaf, it's just they talk really fast in Shakespeare's strange lyrical language. And I wanted to digest and absorb everything they said and I'm pleased to report I did. It was absolutely phenomenal to read an entire play and then months later view a film where it is performed movie-like. I'm also pleased to report I understood nearly all of the dirty jokes said by Mercutio and Nurse. I also translated bits for the benefit of my sister and mother who came in to watch too. In my sister's words, "Ah, now I understand why they are laughing."

Here are some pictures from different scenes of the film (and play) which I absolutely loved:

O, She doth teach the torches to burn bright!
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope's ear;
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!
For saints have hands that pilgrims' hands do touch,
And palm to palm is holy palmers' kiss.
Sin from thy lips? O trespass sweetly urged!
Give me my sin again.

Act 1, Scene 5 (The ball at Capulet's house) did not fail to wow me, and the famous balcony scene (Act 2, Scene 2) was extraordinary. The kissing was awkward and sloppy but in a way it was perfect because this would be the first time they would have kissed someone, and the first time you kiss is not perfect. Kissing is an art and I was delighted that it wasn't perfected in the entire film. (After all five days go by in the entire play from Sunday to Thursday)

O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I'll no longer be a Capulet.

A thousand times the worse, to want thy light.
Love goes toward love, as schoolboys from
their books,
But love from love, toward school with heavy looks.

My favourite scene in the movie has to be the Lark/Nightingale Scene, the morning Romeo has to leave to Mantua. Leonard Whiting is totally callipygian and Olivia Hussey was under aged when she filmed this movie (I think she was fifteen at the time of filming) and had to get permission before she did the nude scene. Below are some stills and click here to see an interview where one can easily tell that Hussey and Whiting had a hot off screen chemistry as well. Also, did you know she wasn't allowed to watch the movie because of the nude scene in it (even though she acted in the movie and did that scene) And yet she smokes freely in front of the cameras during her interview (she's just fifteen and she's already a smoker)? Ahh, the 60's were amazing!

It was the lark, the herald of the morn,
No nightingale: look, love, what envious streaks
Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east:
Night's candles are burnt out, and jocund day
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.
I must be gone and live, or stay and die.

More light and light; more dark and dark our woes!

And to sum it all up, I, Just Another Girl will leave you with the amazing playwright (the man that started it all) that has brought forth this wonderful, amazing story (play) that has filled every nook and cranny of our society today. We love you, William Shakespeare.

Don't ask me why, but this photo of Willaim Shakespeare always makes me laugh.

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