REVIEW
Brown, John Russell. "S. Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet."
Shakespeare Survey 15 (1962): 147-155.

Thesis: Zeffirelli's stage production of Romeo and Juliet opened in October of 1960 and didn't close until early in 1962. Brown's review emphasizes the reasons for Zeffirelli's great success, but also reflects on the weaknesses of his production. Brown praises the costuming and casting, and is particularly impressed by the naturalism of the younger characters. He writes, "The greatest innovation of his production lay in unifying words and stage business, in making the actors' speech as lively and fluent as their physical action" (149). On the other hand, Brown also writes, "While Zeffirelli had created an animating style for the story of the young lovers, he had not found a means of comparable liveliness to represent the authoritative figures which Shakespeare has made the centre of many important scenes" (151). Brown also faults Zeffirelli for failing to give scenes of dignity and grief their due. He comments, "Directors working in the English theatre do not respond to Shakespeare's presentation of authority and responsibility and of understanding, compassionate grief. This is surely a loss" (153).

A Note: Almost everything Brown says about Zeffirelli's stage production applies equally well to Zeffirelli's movie.

Bottom Line: Well-written and intelligent.


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   Author: Philip Weller
   Last Modified: 27 March 2002