Romeo and Juliet

Movie Information

In Brief: If there must be film versions of Mr. Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet — and, since the movies have been churning them out in various forms for 116 years, it seems we must — then Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 version is as good as any and better than most. It should, however, be noted that it is very much of its time with its youthful cast looking like they stepped off the cover of Tiger Beat magazine. Even at the time, it was sometimes derided as the "Pepsi Generation" version of the play. I'm not at all sure that's necessarily a bad thing, but I'm well past finding the story a great tragedy of star-crossed lovers, and more on the side of viewing the title characters as self-dramatizing hormonal teenagers. That, I know, makes me a curmudgeon, but them's the breaks. Of course, one of the big things at the time of its release — at least among the teenage girls I knew — was the film's then-startling (now tepid) nudity, specifically Romeo's bare backside. (I'm sure this fueled many a youthful fantasy — and in the name of culture, too.) It briefly thrust Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey into the spotlight but didn't exactly propel them to stardom (Hussey's next best-known film is the 1974 slasher picture Black Christmas). Regardless, this is a reasonable version of the play.
Genre: Shakespeare Tragedy
Director: Franco Zeffirelli
Starring: Leonard Whiting, Olivia Hussey. John McEnery, Milo O'Shea, Pat Heywood, Michael York
Rated: G

The Hendersonville Film Society will show Romeo and Juliet Sunday, April 17, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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