Directed by: Carlo Carlei
Shakespeare’s ultimate romantic story, has been told and re-told throughout the ages, in all sorts of settings and as interpreted by numerous individuals (including modern-day, musical settings as in West Side Story). Here it is put back in a very traditionally setting, in a renaissance locale. While it can (and has) been said that Romeo and Juliet is the story of two crazy, love-struck teens go off the deep end for each other and wind up killing themselves, another interpretation is that the story shows us love at both its purest and most tragic consequences.
The last time this story was presented on the big screen in a traditional setting was Franco Zeffirelli’s version back in 1968 (although there was the updated version Romeo + Juliet with Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in 1996 and the martial arts version Romeo Must Die in 2000). So, it having been quite some time since its last representation through film, this version offers a new generation of viewers the unique opportunity to enjoy and cherish literature's most enduring romance (Imagine what it would be like to be a writer and have your work still adapted and enjoyed a hundred years after your death.)
So here we are in the fair city of Verona, Italy. Romeo and Juliet are children of a pair of ever- feuding Hatfields and McCoys…er…Montague and Capulet families. They have their first fateful meeting at a feast and immediately fall deeply in love (yeah, like when does that ever actually happen?). Still, despite the fact that their families are sworn enemies, the pair of teens steal away and are secretly wed. As we all know, it is not long before a chain of truly fateful events forever alters the lives of both families for all times.
Yes, we totally know what is going to happen in this film, but it is still worth going to see it, listen to the great iambic pentameter of Shakespearean speech, and to see the amazingly beautiful architecture of the city that stands in for Verona. Plus there is all that amazing sword fighting that occurs as the two clans vent their ire and hatred against each other. (Oh, and if we are permitted a bit of editorializing on our way out, we feel it necessary to point out that this story should serve as ample proof that if we were all armed we'd be so much safer.) Still, while this was not so much as thrilling as was Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing earlier this year, it is still worth watching. Yes, no matter how many times we see this film (and we are set to see it again next year in Romeo and Juliet in Harlem), we will go to see it again.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular articles and movie reviews.