Italian director Franco Zeffirelli stunned the world when he cast two young unknowns to portray the star crossed lovers in 'Romeo and Juliet', but it was a gamble that resulted in one of the most popular motion pictures of the time, winning international acclaim and two Academy Awards. Shakespeare's classic romance comes to life in a modern, young person's interpretation, bringing new vitality and a fresh insight to the most durable love story ever written.
Leonard Whiting (Romeo); Olivia Hussey (Juliet); John McEnery (Mercutio); Milo O'Shea (Friar Laurence); Pat Heywood (The Nurse); Robert Stephens (The Prince of Verona); Michael York (Tybalt); Bruce Robinson (Benvolio); Paul Hardwick (Lord Capulet); Natasha Parry (Lady Capulet); Antonio Pierfederici (Lord Montague); Esmeralda Ruspoli (Lady Montague); Roberto Bisacco (Paris); Roy Holder (Peter); Keith Skinner (Balthazar). Please contact SFC to add other cast members and characters.
Important: the following essays and comments are authored by Soul Food Cinema readers. Whilst the Editor prays for the spiritual integrity of all content of this site, it should be noted that these represent personal opinions and carry no official endorsement. If you consider any content to be a misrepresentation of Catholic teaching, please contact SFC. May God bless you and enlighten you in your reading.
Articles, Essays and Reviews
Please contact SFC if you are interested in submitting an essay on this film.
Readers' Comments and Opinions
Click the link to comment on this film. You may like to copy the film title and year (as given above) to your clipboard now for pasting into the following form.
The Idolatry of Romantic Love
Mark Banks (United Kingdom)
Opinion: Limited Recommendation
I hope I'm not giving too much away to say that the narrator at the very end of Romeo and Juliet tells us "For never was there a tale of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo". And it's the different interpretations of 'woe' that can be taken from this statement that lead to the ambiguity of the overall moral that can be taken from the story of Romeo and Juliet. Should woe mean 'distress', 'misery' or 'sadness', it could well be taken that the moral of the story is a cautionary one; warning the reader (or in this case the viewer) that these are the things that will inevitably come about as a result of the idolatry of romantic love. However, should woe simply be taken to mean 'misfortune' as in something more akin to bad luck, then the moral of the story is simply that here were two lovers that had their whole lives ahead of them, but a simple case of misinterpretation (with regard to Juliet's death) resulted in the death of them both. What Shakespeare's intentions were I do not know (I've only ever once read the play and have now forgotten it), but in this film adaptation I fear the interpretation is willed to be seen as the latter of the two explanations: one in which the outcome is seen more as an unfortunate accident. Were the intention to warn on the dangers of idolising romantic love, a simple but significant cautionary speech, or a change in direction with respect to the emphasis on the characters' acting, could have been included at some point to give the film more of a feel of a tragedy, and less of a romance; the like of which some youth may wish to emulate. As for the rest of the film, the acting is good, though Olivia Hussey's performance was not quite strong enough to sustain the amount of screen time she was given. The sets and costumes were good; though Juliet's over-the-top bust-revealing dress at the balcony scene meant an inconvenient asserted effort to avert my eyes. This, combined with the brief scenes of partial nudity elsewhere in the film, also mean I'd raise the age rating to at least a 12, from its current PG certificate. Other than that, the poetic language of Shakespeare was re-created to good effect; even if my comprehension of all that was going on went by the wayside in the process. Overall, the technical qualities of this production are very good, but I have strong reservations about its thematic content.