Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. United Kingdom/Italy, 1968. BHE Films, Verona Produzione, Dino de Laurentiis Cinematografica. Screenplay by Franco Brusati, Masolino D’Amico, Franco Zeffirelli, based on the play by William Shakespeare. Cinematography by Pasqualino de Santis. Produced by John Brabourne, Anthony Havelock-Allan. Music by Nino Rota. Production Design by Lorenzo Mongiardino. Costume Design by Danilo Donati. Film Editing by Reginald Mills.
Shakespeare’s most popular play is adapted once again to the big screen, and unlike George Cukor’s version with Norma Shearer and Leslie Howard, this one features protagonists who are much closer to the correct age. Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting play the “star-crossed lovers” from two different families embroiled in a vendetta. Unable to avoid their attraction to each other, the couple proceed to attempt a secret marriage that only ends in tragedy because of foolish mortal weakness. Franco Zeffirelli does such a wonderful job with this version because he doesn’t apologize for its drippy romanticism: the dialogue maintains Shakespeare’s richness, but there is also plenty of effort coming from the bright costumes and melodramatic score by Nino Rota. Also features a wonderful performance by a very young Michael York as Tybalt.
Academy Awards: Best Cinematography; Best Costume Design
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Director (Franco Zeffirelli)
Golden Globe Award: Best English Language Foreign Film
Nomination: Best Director (Franco Zeffirelli)