Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Franco Zeffirelli, R.I.P.

Italian director Franco Zeffirelli died at the age of 96. Though he only made 14 movies, his name was well recognized throughout the world. One only needed to say his last name. THE TAMING OF THE SHREW and ROMEO & JULIET defined the late 1960s opulent productions. In a recent interview, Anjelica Huston said she dreamed of going to "... Italy having a romance on set with Franco Zeffirelli." It would have been a bit difficult for her since Zeffirelli came out as gay. His other credits include OTHELO (1986), HAMLET (1990) and JANE EYRE (1996). His career took a hit after directing the contemporary teen romance ENDLESS LOVE (1981), which critics eviscerated. But he'll be forever remembered for those lush epics, a style of filmmaking that's all but gone today.

Zeffirelli and Richard Burton during the filming of THE TAMING OF THE SHREW(1967)

Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting in ROMEO & JULIET (1968). The film was a massive hit!

Judi Bowker and Graham Faulkner in BROTHER SUN, SISTER MOON (1972). Another lush production by Zeffirelli.

Above and below: Zeffirelli's JESUS OF NAZARETH (1977) was one of the best mini-series of the decade. It had an all-star cast. Robert Powell played Jesus.

1 comment:

Richard Svensson said...

Zeffirelli was definitely one of the few, true "auteurs" of cinema history. His productions were both eye-fillingly opulent, as well as very intimate.
Swedish director Ingmar Bergman relayed an amusing anecdote about how RAI television first approached him about making a mini series about the life of Jesus. Bergman sent them the synopsis of his concept, which was about each episode concentrating on a character observing the passion of the Christ during his last day: Mary Magdalene, Judas, Pontus Pilate, Peter, etc. All filmed on the island of Gotland in Bergman's native Sweden in a sort of avant garde way. The Italian representatives grew a bit pale, paid Bergman, said thanks, but no thanks, and gave the job to Zeffirelly instead, who produced exactly the mini series RAI and everybody else was expecting.