(Save Romeo & Juliet before someone let's them live!)
On the R & J note, I think even a selective comparison of Franco
Zefferelli's film with Bas Luhrmann's (?) recent 'modernized' version
would be very useful for kids. When I was in 6th grade, a group of us put
on a condensed version of the play, so the story was always familar to
me--I couldn't imagine not knowing it.
However, around the time the recent Romeo & Juliet came out, I met an 11
year-old girl who she was really excited about going to see the movie.
She had seen the trailer and asked me about the part where Romeo is
climbing up a wall to Juliet in the window--she thought Juliet had been
kidnapped and he was coming to rescue her. I was shocked--she said she
had never read the play--then her 14 year old brother chimed in that he
had never read it either. I said, well, you must know the plot, its been
retold in movies time and time again--the boy and girl from thw opposite
side of the tracks, from rival groups--star-crossed lovers?... They
looked at me blankly. Not even West Side Story? They'd never heard of it.
Essentially, it occurred to me what a tragedy (no pun intended) it would
be for these kids' first and perhaps only familiarity with Romeo & Juliet
to come from the music video version. I myself enjoyed it a great deal
for its *differences*, but I can't imagine not having something to
compare that to--especially Claire Danes vs. Olivia Hussy (I think that's
the name of Zefferelli's Juliet).
I even remember a Wonder Years episode about Zefferelli's R & J being the
fad movie for all of those kids to go see.
Just some thoughts,
MFA Film Production Program
University of Southern California
School of Cinema-Television
Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite