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Blu-ray Review A Few Words About A few words about…™ Romeo and Juliet (1968) – in Blu-ray (1 Viewer)

Robert Harris

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I've always been a huge fan of Franco Zeffirelli's Shakespearean outings. From the exuberant 1967 Taylor-Burton epic for Columbia, followed by Romeo and Juliet a year later, to Otello (1986) with Placido Domingo and Hamlet (1990) with Mel Gibson, Glenn Close, Alan Bates and Paul Scofield, his films had always been beautifully crafted.

Criterion's new Blu-ray of Romeo and Juliet is still a magnificent production, regardless of the recent legal maneuverings, of which I have no opinion.

Finally, someone told the tale with age-appropriate actors, and it worked.

Criterion's new Blu, based upon a scan of the original negative is quite lovely, with an overall beautiful image. Grain gives it the full-blown look of a 35mm print.

Not an original Technicolor print, mind you, but lovely Eastman Color. The difference are interesting, and here is a case via which a 4k UHD might have made a different.

The original dye transfer prints were bold in their representation of colors, especially red velvets. They popped. Here, everything looks correct, but without that dye transfer "pop."

Just a different look.

And then, of course, there's that gorgeous Nino Rota score, and the cinematography of Pasqualino De Santis (Juliet of the Spirits, The Damned, Death in Venice).

Image – 5

Audio – 5 (Monaural)

Pass / Fail – Pass

Works up-rezzed to 4k - Yes

Upgrade from DVD or import Blu-ray - Yes

Very Highly Recommended

RAH


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Dick

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Just watched this again. "Recent legal maneuverings"? If you're referring to the incredibly tasteful, momentary flashes of nudity, I have never been able to figure it out. If you blink you won't even see the breasts. OOhhh! So horrible -- the fleeting sight of healthy human breasts! Yes, the gorgeous Olivia Hussey was only 15 when this was made, but...a 24-frame glimpse of her chest, controversial? Who would we be protecting if we cut those frames? Oh, and Leonard Whiting's buttocks....oohhh! how traumatic for American audiences! The horror!
 

Dick

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I would also like to point out that, in 1968, this film was G-Rated! Is this a solid example of how paranoid, prudish and ridiculous a large chunk of us have become since?
 

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Robert Harris

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I would also like to point out that, in 1968, this film was G-Rated! Is this a solid example of how paranoid, prudish and ridiculous a large chunk of us have become since?
I believe you may have answered your own question. I can only relate that in 1968, my friends and I thought nothing of it.
 

Peter Apruzzese

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I would also like to point out that, in 1968, this film was G-Rated! Is this a solid example of how paranoid, prudish and ridiculous a large chunk of us have become since?
This came out just before the start of the ratings system in November 1968 and, IIRC, films released prior to that date automatically received a G rating unless they later submitted them for a revised rating.
 

Stephen_J_H

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This came out just before the start of the ratings system in November 1968 and, IIRC, films released prior to that date automatically received a G rating unless they later submitted them for a revised rating.
Not exactly: when films carried the warning circa 1967 "Suggested for Mature Audiences", they would get either an M or R depending on content. Otherwise, you are correct. The prudishness really kicked in during the late 70s, and of course in 1984 when the PG-13 rating was born.
 

jayembee

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Just watched this again. "Recent legal maneuverings"? If you're referring to the incredibly tasteful, momentary flashes of nudity, I have never been able to figure it out. If you blink you won't even see the breasts. OOhhh! So horrible -- the fleeting sight of healthy human breasts! Yes, the gorgeous Olivia Hussey was only 15 when this was made, but...a 24-frame glimpse of her chest, controversial? Who would we be protecting if we cut those frames? Oh, and Leonard Whiting's buttocks....oohhh! how traumatic for American audiences! The horror!

I imagine the "recent legal maneuverings" alluded to refers to this:

 

roxy1927

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I saw it in the early 70s and I thought at that time it had an M rating. I don't remember when GP started exactly.
 

uncledougie

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“The new ratings system began with four categories: G (general audiences), M (mature audiences, changed in 1969 to PG, parental guidance suggested), R (restricted, no children under 17 allowed without parents or adult guardians), and X (no one under 17 admitted).”
Edit: That’s actually not completely accurate, it was GP until 1972 I think, changed due to audience confusion.
 
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Stephen_J_H

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I saw it in the early 70s and I thought at that time it had an M rating. I don't remember when GP started exactly.

“The new ratings system began with four categories: G (general audiences), M (mature audiences, changed in 1969 to PG, parental guidance suggested), R (restricted, no children under 17 allowed without parents or adult guardians), and X (no one under 17 admitted).”
One of the few times that movie posters can be reliable for such things. M was renamed to GP in 1970, then the more logical PG in 1972.
romeo_and_juliet.jpg
 

uncledougie

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Correct, and I believe with changing perspectives, Romeo and Juliet was changed from G to GP (and amended to PG) somewhere along the line. The system took awhile to settle down somewhat.
 

Stephen_J_H

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Correct, and I believe with changing perspectives, Romeo and Juliet was changed from G to GP (and amended to PG) somewhere along the line. The system took awhile to settle down somewhat.
Resubmission to the MPA does play a role here. Planet of the Apes [1968] is still rated G and contains violence and brief male nudity.
 

roxy1927

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Yes you're right. I just looked up the opening day newspaper ad for The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes in '70 and it has a GP rating.
 

Sultanofcinema

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This should interest you. I saw both Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid and Patton (roadshow engagement). Both were rated M. Patton advertised its M towards the end of the credits which surprised me. When the films continued to play into 1970, the ratings were changed to GP, the general release of Patton lost footage to add more showings on a wide run and Butch Cassidy lost two scenes that were never restored to the the film. At the end of Patton for some home video editions, the large M has been replaced with a GP. I kept both of my copies to reflect both the M and the GP.
 

uncledougie

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Resubmission to the MPA does play a role here. Planet of the Apes [1968] is still rated G and contains violence and brief male nudity.
If released today, none of these films would want or accept a G rating - it’s sad that it’s considered a box office kiss of death. There were numerous originally G-rated films that wouldn’t get that today in any case. R&J being just one example, Apes another.
 

Sultanofcinema

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Hey Roxie, Saw Private Life of Sherlock Holmes in 1970 when it opened for two weeks at the Willowbrook Cinema in Wayne, NJ. It was rated M initially and then took on the GP. Wasn't Walkabout GP?
 

Stephen_J_H

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Patton advertised its M towards the end of the credits which surprised me.
Films throughout the 70s and 80s contained the rating clip at the end of the film. On Universal Titles, this was followed by the infamous "When in Hollywood... Visit Universal Studios" graphic.
 

roxy1927

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Sherlock Holmes had it's world premiere and exclusive NY tri state area run at Radio City in Oct '70 with a GP rating. I doubt it would have opened in Wayne NJ at the same time let alone before.
 
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