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100 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive cinematic Romeo & Juliet
Appropriately enough, Zeffirelli's masterful production had its cinematic debut in the "Summer of Love". It is certainly an authentic reflection of the youthful exuberance and vigour of its era. Yet it also succeeds brilliantly in capturing the colour and atmosphere of the Renaissance in Italy. It was filmed on location in Tuscany and Umbria and many of its scenes are so...
Published on 8 Feb. 2003 by A. M. Chugg

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Movie but the Blu-Ray is a ripoff!
At first I thought I'd just picked up a dud copy but after checking on the Net for reviews I found that wasn't the case. I don't know how Paramount thought they could get away with it, but they've just stuck the DVD on a Blu-Ray and given it a Blu-Ray menu. You might not notice it on TV but I have a 1080i projector set up for home cinema, and was gobsmacked when I saw...
Published 12 months ago by Badge


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100 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive cinematic Romeo & Juliet, 8 Feb. 2003
By 
A. M. Chugg - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Appropriately enough, Zeffirelli's masterful production had its cinematic debut in the "Summer of Love". It is certainly an authentic reflection of the youthful exuberance and vigour of its era. Yet it also succeeds brilliantly in capturing the colour and atmosphere of the Renaissance in Italy. It was filmed on location in Tuscany and Umbria and many of its scenes are so gorgeous as to seem almost like canvases by Raphael or Titian, magically brought to life. The music is also outstandingly fine and has now achieved a wide level of circulation beyond the film as a quintessential love theme.
Zeffirelli's decision to cast the leads at their correct ages has been controversial. Certainly, Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey (who were respectively 17 and 15 during filming) do not give performances of technical theatrical brilliance (for that in a Shakespearian lead, you should see Kenneth Brannagh's Henry V). Nevertheless the leads are utterly charming, convincingly passionate, genuinely moving and wholly credible and I would suggest that these attributes are far more essential than technical mastery in the context of this particular play.
In the supporting roles, which are superbly cast, there are many performances of great theatrical accomplishment. Performances of memorable flare are turned in by Pat Heywood as the nurse, Milo O'Shea as Friar Laurence, John McEnery as Mercutio and Michael York as a surprisingly fearsome Tybalt.
It is the greatest tribute to this film, as I know from personal experience, that it has the power to turn intelligent teenage detractors of the Bard into his keenest advocates.

This is undoubtedly the definitive cinematic version of Shakespeare's second greatest work. Beware of pale imitations!
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74 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite film., 17 Aug. 2003
By 
M. Ash (Lancashire, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Other people have mentioned a lack of 'technical perfection' as a criticism of the acting in this film, which I continue to rate as my favourite of all time. This film is not about technical perfection - it is above such calculated and clinical ideas. The concept of Stanislavski's method and similar such approaches has no place here - this film is about the emotional involvement of two outstanding young actors in the awe inspiring work of Shakespeare. Both are beautiful and Olivia Hussey, in particular, makes wonderfully effective use of her powerful eyes throughout.
Zefirelli's direction is detailed but maintains a sense of humanity rarely afforded big screen interpretations of Shakespeare. The setting of every scene combined with wonderful camera work, creates a tangible sense of atmosphere which even overcomes the monoaural sound and early technicolor pictures. Nino Rota's score is divine and serves the content of the film rather than itself - it binds the plot together, building pathos and portraying the sensuality of the famous star-crossed lovers. Costumes are beautifully designed. Unlike many more modern adaptations, the use of nudity in portraying the sexual attraction between Romeo and Juliet is subtle and all the more effective for it. The film does not try to 'be' modern or groundbreaking but, in it sensitive adaptation of a great story achieves an untouchable quality. This is 2 and a quarter hours of movie perfection which, in my opinion, will never be beaten. Do yourself a favour - buy this instead of the rather brash and garish Baz Luhrman modernisation, and enjoy Shakespeare at its best. Stunning.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Film Version?, 2 Mar. 2010
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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Many people class this as the best film version of this classic play, and I must admit that I am one of them. I have seen a few film versions and this is the best by a mile. Romeo and Juliet is one of my all time favourite plays and this film is a treat for the eyes.

Franco Zeffirelli took a daring and controversial decision in placing two unknowns in the lead roles, but when his finished production was seen it more than paid off. Winning the acclaim of critics and viewers this is a film that all should see, and the use of unknowns to play Romeo and Juliet brought home once again that Shakespeare is for everyone and for all time, not just highbrows.

Olivia Hussey as Juliet will steal your heart making us men all in to Romeos, and the inevitable finale of this tragic love story will bring you to tears. There is nothing really to dislike about this, except perhaps a few very minor details which lets face it do not mar the overall performance. As a whole this gets as close as you can to perfection and like me you will never tire of watching this.

Even if you think that you don't like Shakespeare, or have never read any of his plays then you should still see this and you will soon find your mind altered. This is a film that you must see before you die, and it will leave a lasting impression on you.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Perfect Introduction to Shakespeare, 8 Feb. 2010
I first saw this film at the age of 14 and it was a revelation. I remember sitting on my parents hearthrug utterly entranced. Having previously dismissed the thought of Shakespeare as "difficult" and "boring" here was something that felt (in spite of the period setting) totally relevent to me, as a 14 year old girl. I know that I cried buckets at the end, and came away with my attitude to Shakespeare changed forever.

Far more years than I would care to admit to later, I introduced this film, one wet Saturday afternoon to my streetwise 11 year old daughter, I admit that I wasn't sure whether it would "speak" to her like it did to me. I should have had more faith. Yes - as a previous reviewer has said - Leonard Whitings startling resemblance to Zac Efron (an insult to LW in my opinion I'm afraid) was immediately commented on - and off she went. And yes - it ended in tears - as it is supposed to.

Certain elements may show as a little old fashioned "Hollywood" but this is a beautifully simple rendition of a tale as old as time itself.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Saw the film when it was first released, 22 Mar. 2007
By 
Worldlife (Sussex, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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As a young man I was converted to Shakespeare by seeing this film directed by Franco Zeferelli. The magic for me was that instead of actors declaiming lines I felt I was involved with real people, places and circumstances.

Yesterday the film was shown on ITV3 and had 28 minutes of advertisements added to the 2hr 11 minutes running time.

Editing the film at fast speed made me appreciate the balletic movements of the cast location filming

Alas after editing I found the original recording from satellite had no sound on it.

Even although it was now a silent movie I was delighted to see again the beauty of the costumes, use of colour and the exquisite and careful composition. So pleased to find I could purchase a commercial DVD version at the low price of £5.97

Zeferelli's version of La Traviata could be a moving experience for those who say they don't like or understand opera
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive introduction to Shakespeare, 17 Aug. 2003
By 
My first experience of the magic of Shakespeare was through this beautiful film. I was 15 years old, and remember that - going to the "pictures" - Romeo and Juliet was a set "O" Level piece, and that I should watch it. The book was - as I recall it - unreadable. Zefirelli's wonderful film started a love affair with Shakespeare that has endured into my fifties. If you only ever watch one film of a Shakespearian work, make it this moving and truly wondrous masterpiece.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply stunning Shakespear, 16 Nov. 2005
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Like many people, I first encountered Zeffirelli's masterpiece during a school trip whilst studying the play for 'O' level. The film swept me - and my classmates - off our feet; I recall seeing the entire 1st XV front row crying like babies, and time has blunted neither the charm nor the power of the classic tale's definitive version. The performances coaxed from the appropriately very young cast are amazing: it is impossible not to fall in love with Olivia Hussey's mature performance and other-worldly beauty; not to be moved by Whiting's accessible candour or fail to be stirred by Michael York's firebrand Tybalt.
But it is not just the script and direction that excel. The cinematography is perfect: you can smell Verona; feel the sun on your back and the cobbles beneath your feet and the soundtrack has become a literal classic in its own right. All of this sucks you irresistibly further and further into the inescapable momentum of events. For the student, the pacing and production reveal meaning to Shakespeare's words; even the bardic buff will get new insights into the quintessential exploration of love in its many forms, although purists may feel uncomfortable with the occasional liberty taken with the Uncle Bill's original however necessary for the difference in pacing between stage and screen. Forget Verona beach and guns, this is probably the best screen adaptation of any Shakespeare play…ever.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uncomparable, 13 Aug. 2001
This is one of the best adaptions of Romeo and Juilet ever recorded, certainly the best I have seen. The actors, setting, costume and soundtrack all add to the over all effect. Watching this brings to life the spirit of the play. I think Shakespeare would have been proud of Franco Zefirelli. He brings the play to life in a way that can never be achieved from just reading it, and has never been achieved by another film director.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zeffirelli- The Bard's Ambassador, 6 Dec. 2006
By 
JWBlatchley "Julian Blatchley" (Aigina, Greece) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Bravo Zeffirelli! A dramatic and visual spectacular which brings both Shakespeare's great tragedy and renaissance Italy to vibrant life. The Shakespeare buff should delight in this superbly crafted re-telling which, by it's intelligent presentation, fabulous costume, memorable music and inspired locations, should also ensnare and enchant the tyro audience.

There is much to praise here. The dramatic sense and interpretation is excellent. The casting is bold and imaginative, particularly in the probably quite daring selection of little-known and youthful leading players (Hussey and Whiting) who rise above their years and experience to give a rare and authentic sense of the impulsively destructive core theme of this tragedy; they are convincingly headlong lovers, blooming with youth and energy, superbly athletic, sexy, rash and naive. There is excellent support from a very competent cast, especially Michael York's proud and disdainfully quarrelsome Tybalt, and his counterpoise in John McEnery's passionate and dashing Mercutio. The settings are the finest that Italy can offer, the costume magnificent, the music can stand alone as entertainment in itself... in sum this is not just about Shakespeare's dialogue, it is also an audio-visual feast in its own right, a riot of colour and action. The duel between Mercutio and Tybalt is a masterpiece... manhood on display, cockscombs up, bella figura strutting a very public stage; gentlemanly sparring descending to an almost accidental fatal stroke. This is very credible public behaviour for proud young bucks trained to arms and lacking employment. Compare this, then, with the true, unbridled rage of the Tybalt/Romeo fight... Romeo transformed from arbitrator to enraged aggressor, Tybalt pushed to the brink by not only by his quarrel with the Montagu clan but also the knowledge of what he has done. Excellent interpretation, real fire.

If there are faults in this production, it would be churlish to give them much weight in view of the overall effect. The text and plot is somewhat contracted and simplified, but the integrity of the play remains intact and only the truly ascetic mind will object.

For me the lasting impression is of a timeless presentation of Shakespeare's great tragedy coupled with a persuasive portrayal of what life may have been like in the great Italian city-states; enlightened Renaissance art and culture veneered over lingering Medieval superstition and male egotism. Art and order with barely contained lust, violence and sudden death just below the surface, civilisation merely skin-deep. I hope to see it equalled; I do not expect to see it surpassed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Movie but the Blu-Ray is a ripoff!, 17 Feb. 2014
At first I thought I'd just picked up a dud copy but after checking on the Net for reviews I found that wasn't the case. I don't know how Paramount thought they could get away with it, but they've just stuck the DVD on a Blu-Ray and given it a Blu-Ray menu. You might not notice it on TV but I have a 1080i projector set up for home cinema, and was gobsmacked when I saw that the image was blurry and not remastered in HD. I would have expected this from the countless bootleg outfits that operate under the radar on Amazon, but from a major studio? Do NOT pay them money for this.
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Romeo and Juliet [DVD] [1968]
Romeo and Juliet [DVD] [1968] by Franco Zeffirelli (DVD - 2013)
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