• Romeo And Juliet (Umbrella Entertainment) DVD Review

    Released by: Umbrella Entertainment
    Released on: February 5th, 2020.
    Director: Franco Zeffirelli
    Cast: Olivia Hussey, Michael York, Leonard Whiting, John McEnry, Patrick Heywood
    Year: 1968
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    Romeo And Juliet – Movie Review:

    Based on William Shakespeare’s classic work of the same name, Franco Zeffirelli lavish 1968 production of Romeo And Juliet takes place in the Italian city of Verona. Here, we learn that the Montague family and the Capulet family have long been engaged in a seemingly endless feud.

    “Two households, both alike in dignity in fair Verona where we lay our scene. From ancient grudge break to new mutiny where civil blood makes civil hands unclean from forth the fatal loins of these two foes a pair of star-crossed lovers take their life, whose misadventured piteous overthrows do with their deaths bury their parents' strife.”

    As fate would have it, Romeo Capulet (Leonard Whiting) pushes aside family matters and attends a Capulet ball where he falls quickly and deeply in love with the beautiful Juliet Capulet (Olivia Hussey). They begin a courtship and soon elope, which furthers the tension between their warring households.

    It doesn’t end well.

    Franco Zeffirelli’s film is a beautiful picture to look at. It’s remarkably well shot, the cinematography from Pasqualino De Santis is nothing if not striking and the use of light and color in the picture is consistently impressive. There was obviously a decent budget behind this attempt to make Shakespeare more accessible to the masses, and the end result works quite well. The attention to period detail is admirable and the ornate costumes and authentic Italian locations put together for the sets always look fantastic. Even if Shakespeare isn’t your ‘thing’ it’s hard not to admire the technical achievement that this lushly photographed film represents.

    Hussey and Whiting are very good together. Not only are they the right age to play their respective characters, they handle the romance and the drama and the intrigue required of the story very, very well. They have chemistry and that chemistry results in believability, which is key to making any story, particularly a love story, work the way that this picture does. The supporting players are all very strong as well, including but not limited to Sir Laurence Olivier as the narrator, but it’s the two young leads who do most of the heavy lifting and who make the strongest impression, their work feels pure.

    Zeffirelli took some criticism when the film was released for editing out chunks of the work that inspired the film, and for making some changes (the film’s controversial scene where we see Romeo and Juliet in bed together, clearly having consummated their love, was a sticking point upon release, the brief nudity in this sequence likely the bigger issue!) but he did this judiciously and no one who pays attention to the picture should really have to take issue with any of what’s been excised. The movie flows nicely and it tells its story without any noticeable gaps.

    Romeo And Juliet – DVD Review:

    Romeo And Juliet comes to DVD from Umbrella Entertainment in an anamorphic widescreen transfer framed at 1.66.1 widescreen. This transfer is clearly taken from an older existing master, likely the same source used for the Paramount DVD that came out in 2000. As such, the image is watchable enough to be certain, but it’s soft and doesn’t provide the kind of detail that you might hope it would. Colors look okay, if a bit flat and the picture is clean and stable – just soft.

    Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono audio options are offered up in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. The English track sounds clean and clear, if never amazing. For an older DVD single channel mix, the quality is fine. The dialogue is always easy to follow and the track is balanced. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion to note. Subtitles are available in English, English SDH, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish.

    Extras are limited to menus, chapter selection and a trailer for the feature.

    Romeo And Juliet – The Final Word:

    Franco Zeffirelli’s take on Romeo And Juliet is an impressive and elegant adaptation of a classic work of English literature. The production values are fantastic and the performances are very strong. Umbrella’s DVD looks and sounds okay for a DVD, but it does make us of an older master. Still, this is a film very much worth seeing.