A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that four centuries haven't diminished the relevance of this tragic and brilliantly worded story, in which the examples of two feuding families drive home a fatal point. Still, teens may see the story as a glamorization of suicide and the subject is well worth discussing with them.
What's the story?
Franco Zeffirelli's ambitious production of ROMEO AND JULIET brought Shakespeare to the masses in 1968. He did it not by dumbing the play down, but by casting two talented unknowns, Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey (ages seventeen and fifteen, respectively) as the leads. Much like Titanic would thirty years later, Romeo and Juliet struck a chord with teenagers, who found its beautiful young stars' urgency and tragic plight irresistible. Shot in Italy, Zeffirelli's faithful production of the tragedy also features a very young Michael York as Tybalt.
Is it any good?
Zefirelli's performers breathe understanding into every ornate phrase, translating the sixteenth-century prose into something fresh and modern. This stands in stark contrast to the peculiar travesty Romeo + Juliet, in which Leonardo DiCaprio and others spew Shakespeare's lines without understanding them,
When Romeo first spies Juliet, you believe--even before he speaks--that he's irreparably in love. Their balcony scene is wonderfully passionate, and the finale all the more potent for Laurence Olivier's uncredited narration. (But a cautionary note to parents: Teens may see the story as a glamorization of suicide and the subject is well worth discussing with them.)
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