Romeo and Juliet. 1968. Great Britain/Italy. Directed by Franco Zeffirelli. Screenplay by Franco Brusati, Masolino D’Amico, Zeffirelli. With Leonard Whiting, Olivia Hussey, Michael York. 138 min.
In addition to remaining faithful to the text, Zeffirelli, in a rogue move, cast his leads with actual teenagers, far closer to the star-crossed lovers’ ages in Shakespeare’s text. These fresh faces (Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey), flush with the unknown stirrings of passion, are far more believable than, say, the hoary forty-somethings (Leslie Howard and Norma Shearer) of George Cukor’s 1936 version. Shot in and around the Italian towns suggested by Shakespeare, Zeffirelli’s film won well-deserved Oscars for cinematography and costume design.