Directed by: Franco Zeffirelli
Company: Paramount Pictures
Runtime: 138 minutes
This is one of the most beloved Shakespearean works ever. And, after I have watched it, I just saw a pure Shakespearean movie.
I guess I don’t really need to give the story of it since it’s already known to all. But for the sake of some readers, I’ll just give a very brief preview of it. The movie is basically an adaptation of the timeless play of love by William Shakespeare, the tragic tale of the famous star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet and their dueling families, the Montagues and the Capulets.
I admit – it captured an atmosphere I haven’t experienced before. Maybe it’s the fact that it really tried to stay as near as possible to its source material, thus giving the “authentic” feeling of being in the period.
I am quite impressed on how it really gave a feeling that the whole thing is genuinely Shakespearean. It’s all lavish – the costumes are catchy, the production design is grand. In other words, the film is set on epic proportions.
In many ways, I can sing a lots of praises for this film, mainly because it has a lot of good things in it.
The music is wonderfully played throughout the film. In some parts, its emphasis on poetry and romance is so wonderfully interpreted into music that watching the film is like listening both to poetry and to music.
The sound is quite impressive, if you’ll look at the production background of the film. The movie was shot with a camera that caused a lot of noise, so, as a remedy, the dialogues and others were all separately recorded and looped. And based on how clear it was, the sound is already noteworthy.
The film editing was also precise, mainly because it needed to be concise and yet, you feel that it just constantly moves, and not dragging. And it somewhat does its job to bring a cohesive story. Some brilliant cuts, some tense fight scenes, and the film’s brilliant climax – that scene at the mortuary. It’s so tense and thrilling to watch because of the editing.
The cinematography lives up to the film’s colorful setting. Some shots are just okay, and some are really interesting. The shots at the beginning of the film, complimented with the beautiful narration, makes the whole atmosphere of the ill-fated romance right at the start of the film. and it’s a great sign. I’m not really expecting to see those dated but fun to see fast zooms, but I’m fine with that. Last words for this is the shots of both their bodies brought side by side, which were just haunting.
The screenplay is genius. Adapting the play is common, but to make it brilliant is an another way. In a way, the film is a feast for the eyes. But it should be noted that this is a Shakespearean movie, and giving emphasis to the poetry is important because it’s the main reason that you made the film at the first place. And I can say that this adaptation is well-done, based on its screenplay. Just a bit of trivia: I was sort of laughing when Juliet enters to a room as her mother calls her since I instantly had a strange comparison of Hussey’s and Gwyneth Paltrow’s delivery of the lines.
Also, the balcony scene is one perfect move from the screenplay and for the movie itself. This is a pivotal part, since this is, not only extremely famous, but the sign of the development of the romance.
The acting is well-done all the way, though I’d only note the three actors who somewhat stood out.
Of course, we have Olivia Hussey as Juliet. Juliet is a very delicate character, and just one false move, and she is ruined. The secret of the success of the role is care and appropriateness. Like what I said, Juliet is a very delicate character since she’s the innocent one here. Even Romeo is already aware of the realities of the dueling families, but Juliet is just having the idea of it, she’s not aware yet of the violence. And Hussey plays it so well.
Leonard Whiting as Romeo is perfect. He simply feel real as Romeo. I had already forgotten Leonardo DiCaprio’s rendition of the character, since it’s very different, both in treatment and in style, but as far as my (humble) knowledge is concerned, Whiting is the one that I can really imagine as Romeo.
Their balcony scene is a very romantic scene. I can feel the romantic ‘spark’ between the two when they have their line deliveries. I don’t know, but it simply goes down to history as one of the best romantic scenes of all-time. And their finale at the mortuary is just achingly perfect. I can’t stop bringing myself to tears with this scene because it’s so real.
Aside from the two, I’d just like to mention Pat Heywood as the nurse. She kind of resembles Frances McDormand in a way. Anyway, she was an important emotional anchor for the film. She was just laughing in many parts, but she serves more than that. As a connection between the two, she may just be tagged as quirky, but I can sense that there is something under her big clothes and her laughs. A nomination should be given to her.
So, there you go. I sang all the praises. And it’s pretty much many. But why I didn’t LOVE the film?
Isolation. The movie is brilliant. But unfortunately, it never really tried to be accessible to the audience. Many movie lovers love this, but I’m sorry. I don’t.
Yes, there are parts that you do get involved in the situations, but it just happened rarely. Most of the time, it’s lavish, but not connecting. The romance do work, and it’s just the few parts where we really get to understand how it is to be there. But as a movie of epic proportions, I am looking for the “in-there” feeling. Even in personal stories, I need that.
But the film doesn’t place you in there. You are just stuck in front of a screen, watching this movie. Movies like this should be EXPERIENCED, but we’re just drawn by the visuals and the music, but you just can’t be there.
And I can blame that to the director. He made a big production. And I’m quite impressed. However, he just didn’t do that much effort for the viewers to connect to the movie.
The movie is beautifully rendered, it’s a classic and timeless romance, but it’s far from perfect. It’s lacking in connection.
For this, the movie gets:
What are your thoughts, dear reader?