Romeo and Juliet (1968 film)
|Romeo and Juliet|
Widescreen DVD cover
|Directed by||Franco Zeffirelli|
|Produced by||John Brabourne
|Screenplay by||Franco Brusati
|Based on||Romeo and Juliet by
|Narrated by||Laurence Olivier|
|Music by||Nino Rota|
|Cinematography||Pasqualino De Santis|
|Editing by||Reginald Mills|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Release dates||October 8, 1968|
|Running time||138 minutes|
The film was directed and co-written by Franco Zeffirelli, and starred Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey. It won Academy Awards for Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design; it was also nominated for Best Director and Best Picture. Laurence Olivier spoke the film's prologue and epilogue and reportedly dubbed the voice of the Italian actor playing Lord Montague, but was not credited in the film.
Being the most financially successful film of a Shakespeare play during that time, it was popular among teenagers partly because the film used actors who were close to the age of the characters from the original play for the first time. Several critics also welcomed the film enthusiastically.
In Verona,Italy, the longstanding feud between the Montague and the Capulet clans breaks out in a street brawl, broken up by the Prince of the city. The same night, two teenaged children of the two families — Romeo (Montague) and Juliet (Capulet) — meet at a Capulet feast and become deeply infatuated. Later, Romeo stumbles into the secluded garden under Juliet's bedroom balcony and the two exchange impassioned pledges. They are soon secretly married by Romeo's confessor and father figure, Friar Laurence, with the assistance of Juliet's nursemaid. Unfortunately, another street duel breaks out between Juliet's first cousin Tybalt and Romeo's best friend Mercutio when Tybalt insults Romeo. Since Tybalt is Juliet's cousin and Romeo has just been married to Juliet, he sees Tybalt as family and refuses to fight him, leading Mercutio to be a loyal friend and fight for him. This leads to Mercutio's death. Romeo retaliates by fighting Tybalt and killing him, and is punished by the Prince with banishment instead of the death penalty.
Unaware of Juliet's secret marriage, her father has arranged for her to marry wealthy Count Paris. In order to escape this arranged marriage and remain faithful to Romeo, Juliet consumes a potion prepared by Friar Laurence, intended to make her appear temporarily dead for forty-two hours. Friar Laurence plans to inform Romeo of the hoax so that he can meet Juliet after her burial and escape with her when she recovers from her swoon, so he sends another Friar, Friar John, to go and give Romeo a letter to make him aware of his dearly beloved's "death." However, when Romeo's servant, Balthasar, sees Juliet being buried, he thinks she is dead, goes to tell Romeo and unfortunately reaches him before Friar John. In despair, Romeo goes to Juliet's tomb and kills himself there by drinking a poison. Awakening shortly after he expires, Juliet discovers a dead Romeo and proceeds to stab herself with his dagger to join him. Later, the two families attend their joint funeral together and agree to end the feud.
- The balcony scene: At the Palazzo Borghese, built by Cardinal Scipione Borghese in the 16th century, in Artena, 20 miles south of Rome.
- The church scenes: At a Romanesque church named St. Pietro in Tuscania, 50 miles northwest of Rome.
- The tomb scene: Also in Tuscania.
- The palace of the Capulets' scenes: At Palazzo Piccolomini, built between 1459-62 by Pope Pius II, in the city of Pienza, in Siena province.
- The street scenes: Also in Pienza.
- The fight scenes: In Gubbio, a town in the region of Umbria.
- Leonard Whiting as Romeo
- Olivia Hussey as Juliet
- John McEnery as Mercutio
- Milo O'Shea as Friar Lawrence
- Pat Heywood as The Nurse
- Robert Stephens as The Prince
- Michael York as Tybalt
- Bruce Robinson as Benvolio
- Paul Hardwick as Lord Capulet
- Natasha Parry as Lady Capulet
- Antonio Pierfederici as Lord Montague
- Esmeralda Ruspoli as Lady Montague
- Roberto Bisacco as Paris
Controversial rating distinctions
The film was originally rated G in the United States, but, re-rated PG upon its 1973 re-release, primarily because of a nude scene featuring the young leads. It was rumored that Olivia Hussey was only 16 at the time of the movie's premiere in Britain, where the film received an "A" (Adult) rating, and thus not allowed to attend due to (her own) nudity, but this is an urban myth. While her birth year is usually given as 1951, Hussey reflected decades later that this was a publicity stunt (one which caused some degree of trouble with young men she dated at the time and understood her to be years older; presumably due to the obvious advantages of being younger in the motion picture industry, the actress has not otherwise bothered to correct erroneous reports of her age).
The film earned $14.5 million in domestic rentals at the North American box office during 1969.
It was re-released in 1973 and earned $1,700,000 in rentals.
"Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet"
The film's love theme was widely disseminated, notably in "Our Tune", a segment of BBC disc jockey Simon Bates's radio show. In addition, various versions of the theme have been recorded and released, including a highly successful one by Henry Mancini, whose instrumental rendition was a Number One success in the United States during June 1969.
There are two different sets of English lyrics to the song.
- The film's version is called "What Is a Youth?", featuring lyrics by Eugene Walter, and sung by Glen Weston. This version has been released on the complete-score soundtrack release.
- An alternate version, called "A Time for Us", featuring lyrics by Larry Kusik and Eddie Snyder. This version has been recorded by Johnny Mathis and Andy Williams, among others. Josh Groban performed "Un Giorno Per Noi", an Italian version of "A Time for Us".
- A third version is called "Ai Giochi Addio", featuring lyrics by Elsa Morante, and has been performed by opera singers such as Luciano Pavarotti and Natasha Marsh.
In popular culture
Thom Yorke cites the film as one of the inspirations for the Radiohead song "Exit Music (For a Film)", which was written specifically for the ending credits of the 1996 film William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet. Said Yorke, "I saw the Zeffirelli version when I was 13, and I cried my eyes out, because I couldn't understand why the morning after they shagged, they didn't just run away. The song is written for two people who should run away before all the bad stuff starts. A personal song."
Japanese manga artist Rumiko Takahashi referenced the Zeffirelli film in two of her manga and anime works. In one episode of Urusei Yatsura, devious troublemaker Ryoko Mendou invites the series' male protagonist, Ataru Moroboshi, to have a "Romeo and Juliet" rendezvous with her, and wears a dress based on Olivia Hussey's from the 1968 film. Later, Takahashi's Ranma 1/2 featured a storyline in which the lead characters, Ranma Saotome and Akane Tendo, are cast as Romeo and Juliet in a production of the play at their high school. Takahashi designed Ranma and Akane's costumes for the play with Whiting and Hussey's outfits in the Zeffirelli film in mind.
- Alexander Walker, Hollywood, England, Stein and Day, 1974 p399
- "Romeo and Juliet, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
- Adler, Renata (9 October 1968). "Movie Review - Romeo and Juliet (1968)". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
- Ebert, Roger (15 October 1968). "Romeo and Juliet". Chicago Sun Times. Archived from the original on 21 December 2007. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
- Liner notes (back cover) from Romeo & Juliet: Original Soundtrack Recording, 1968, Capitol Records ST 2993
- "Did You Know?". IMDb. Retrieved 3 August 2009.
- "Big Rental Films of 1969", Variety, 7 January 1970 p 15
- "Big Rental Films of 1973", Variety, 9 January 1974 p 60
- "Romeo & Juliet: Nino Rota: Music". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2012-03-07.
- "Nino Rota Romeo & Juliet Soundtrack HDtracks high resolution audiophile music downloads". HDtracks.com. 1999-12-04. Retrieved 2012-03-07.
- Bronson, Fred (1992). Billboard's Book Of #1 Hits (3rd ed.). New York, New York: Billboard Publications, Inc. p. 255. ISBN 0-8230-8298-9.
- The storyline spans chapters 74 through 77 of the manga and episode 39 of the anime titled Kissing Is Such Sweet Sorrow! The Taking of Akane's Lips. http://www.furinkan.com/ranma/misc/index.html
- Romeo and Juliet 1968. The first website on the film created by Barbara Bach.
- Comprehensive webpage on Romeo & Juliet, featuring magazine articles and film reviews (archived).
- "Virtuoso in Verona" — 1968 review in Time (magazine)
- Romeo and Juliet at the Internet Movie Database
- Romeo and Juliet at allmovie