Video Picks Archive
This week my picks are Shakespeare in Love (1998 - ) and Romeo and Juliet (1968 - Franco Zeffirelli - ).
A little controversy erupted last March when the first film beat favorite Saving Private Ryan for the Best Picture Academy Award. Certainly, in most any other year, this film would win hands down. Joseph Fiennes stars as a young William Shakespeare, still struggling against his rival, Christopher Marlowe (Rupert Everett, in an uncredited cameo). Will desperately needs a success with the first production of Romeo and Juliet. Gwyneth Paltrow plays an aristocrat named Viola who admires his poetry, and auditions for the play disguised as a boy, since women weren't allowed to act at the time. She gets the part of Romeo, who she plays opposite a real young boy playing Juliet. Will finds out her secret, and they have a love affair throughout rehearsals, but they must keep her secret, or the show will be shut down. A brilliant romantic comedy that is also a witty satire of show business. For Shakespeare fans, the screenplay is filled with references to his plays, even showing how they may have been inspired. Winner of seven Academy Awards altogether, including Best Actress (Paltrow) and Best Supporting Actress for Judi Dench's brief, but show-stealing performance as Queen Elizabeth. In case you're confused, the director was never the head coach for the Oakland Raiders.
The second film is one of the best film versions of the Bard's classic tale of star-crossed lovers. Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey play the leads. This is one of the few films to actually cast actors of the appropriate ages for these roles. Franco Zeffirelli does an excellent job of translating the work to the screen, making it come to life. But, as with any film based on a play, it can never be done exactly right. It is certainly a tremendous effort, with an unforgettable score by Nino Rota. Winner of two Academy Awards (Cinematography and Costume Design), and three Golden Globes, including Most Promising Newcomer Awards for Whiting and Hussey.
For more information, visit the Internet Movie Database:
Shakespeare in Love (1998)
Romeo and Juliet (1968/I)
Guide to Star Ratings
Capsule Reviews © 1999 Matt Heffernan