Romeo and Juliet (1968) No Ordinary Love Story

By: Alex Phuong (A Toast) –

William Shakespeare is iconic. Scholars have studied his plays, and people perform productions of his work often. The universal themes that Shakespeare explores also provide great material for filmmakers. Ironically, many film audiences cannot understand Shakespeare’s language even though many celebrate his work. There are very rare instances in which a Shakespearean adaptation resonates with viewers, and Franco Zeffirelli’s production of Romeo and Juliet does just that.

A Toast

This film features break-out performances from Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey as the star-crossed lovers in fair Verona. Both of them received Golden Globes as promising newcomers as well. It is actually amazing how two very young performers were able to speak Shakespeare’s dialogue in an articulate manner. The film also features outstanding cinematography, such as the camera movements in the famous balcony scene, and marvelous Academy Award-winning costumes. Zeffirelli himself earned a “Best Director” nomination for his work on this film, and this is one of the few Shakespearean adaptations to receive a “Best Picture” nomination.

Even if the people watching this film might not understand everything that the characters are saying verbally, they can still have an emotional connection to the tragedy of what is perhaps the world’s most enduring love story. Some might also criticize the mature content in this film, but it is actually necessary to show the dynamic nature of these two lovers as they transition from adolescence to adulthood. Paramount Pictures used the tagline, “The world’s most enduring love story is the motion picture to be seen forever,” and people actually have been enjoying this beloved film for decades (and hopefully for all time).


Romeo and Juliet is a love story that continues to endure because of its simple, yet profound, examination of love itself. It has inspired some of the greatest romantic films ever made, including West Side Story (1961), Romeo + Juliet (1996), and Titanic (1997). Some people also believe that Leonard Whiting (Romeo) actually looks a lot like Zac Efron from the High School Musical series. The first High School Musical film also shares parallels to Shakespeare’s play because Troy and Gabriella had trouble expressing their love for each other within the halls of East High. Given the popularity of the original play, it is certain that Shakespeare’s famous tragedy will live on in this acclaimed Oscar-winning film version.

Romeo and Juliet (1968) Drinking Game

Take a Drink: during every iconic scene that you might have learned about in your English classes (like the balcony scene).

Take a Drink: every time any of the characters use the word “love.”

Drink a Shot: whenever the lines sound like rhyming poetry (i.e. “Good night, good night. Parting is such sweet sorrow, That I shall say good night till it be morrow”—Juliet).

About Alex Phuong

Alex Andy Phuong earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University-Los Angeles in 2015. His love affair with cinema began after discovering Turner Classic Movies in the summer of 2004. His favorite film director is Woody Allen, and his favorite movie star is Kate Winslet.

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