Just Like Romeo and Juliet

I can’t remember how old I was when I first saw Zefferelli’s Romeo and Juliet, but I’m pretty sure I was well and truly way too young to even partially comprehend exactly what I was watching, let alone the take in the nuances of the unparalleled tragic brilliance of what is arguably Shakespeare’s most famous and poignant play.

zefferelli olivia hussey child pornography ?

It was however, one of those movies that, even though I saw it when I was quite young, really stayed with me… and I think the dead/not dead/double suicide scene left an indelible mark on my impressionable developing psyche… but psychobabbling the impact that it may or may not have had on my notions of romantic love can be dissected on some other occasion!  😀

Anyway, I’m writing about it now, because I have recently found out that the actress who played Juliet in this particular version of the film, one Ms Olivia Hussey (yes, unfortunate name I know!) was only 15 at the time the film was made. This apparently meant she was too young to actually attend the film’s premiere, because in 1968 it was given a rating of 18+ due to nudity… even though it was she herself who was the only person who actually appeared nude in the film!  How bizarre is that?

olivia hussey underage bed scene nudity

And while we are discussing her under aged status… how is it that this filmed representation of this 15 year old girl was not considered child pornography?  Was it because it’s Hollywood and they damn well did what they chose back then?  Was it considered ‘art’?  Or was it because the gravitas inherent in any Shakespearean play transcends such mundanity?  Either way the question was suitably sidestepped or ignored in order for it to be deemed suitable for a gaggle of very silly and impressionable teenage girls at the Catholic high school I attended…?   Go figure!

olivia hussey bed scene under aged


2 thoughts on “Just Like Romeo and Juliet

  1. If you know the play, you will know that Juliet has just turned 14, so this is an accurate portrayal. Clair Danes was just 17 when she played Juliet, a minor in some jurisdictions, but legal in others – as btw, was Hussey. The age of consent in Italy is 14. So by which standard are you judging this to be ‘child porn’?

  2. This movie was filmed in Italy and London and premiered on British screens in 1968. The movie contained depictions of a nude 15 year old Olivia Hussey – which negated her ability to attend the premiere of the film, given she was underaged to view such content in Britain. The age of consent (ie: the age at which a person is deemed legally able to give informed consent to sexual intercourse) was 16 in Britain in 1968… this however has nothing to do with the legality of the use and distribution of explicit imagery of minors being utilised in film (either mainstream or ‘pornography’) for which one would have to have reached a legal majority of 18 in which to make an informed decision to appear nude on film or presumably had the legal permission of the child’s parents/guardians. The point is moot though… this film gained immediate gravitas by virtue of being Shakespearean in nature and is therefore not considered ‘pornography’ at all, but rather, ‘art’.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *