Serious film enthusiasts may roll their eyes at this, but until recently, the only movie adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet that I'd ever seen was Baz Luhrmann's 1996 version. I don't remember Zeffirelli's 1968 interpretation ever being played late at night on TV for younger generations. It was a behind-the-scenes feature on the Shakespeare in Love DVD, during which costume designer Sandy Powell speaks so enthusiastically about Zeffirelli's picture, that prompted me to see it.
Now I understand what all the fuss was about. Renzo Mongiardino, the celebrated 20th-century designer who did such richly layered interiors for Lee Radziwill,
was the film's production designer. Emilio Carcano and Luciano Puccini were responsible for the art direction and Danilo Donati did the costume design.
Brilliant color seems all the more dramatic because it is juxtaposed with dull, rustic surfaces including lots of earthy stone, natural wood, and tarnished metallics. And as bright as some of the clothes are (much brighter by the way than they appear in these screen grabs), the hues are never exactly primary colors; the reds lean toward scarlet or persimmon, the yellows skew toward gold, and the blues are peacock or faded Prussian. A side note: I noticed cheerful daisies in several scenes and wondered if the choice of flowers had more to do with historical accuracy or 1960s fashion. Maybe a bit of both?
I think a lot of people who work in creative, visual fields -- interior design, event planning, jewelry design -- would enjoy the DVD.
A nice combination for a holiday gift would be both the 1968 and 1996 adaptations along with Shakespeare in Love. It's interesting to compare and contrast them.
Alternatively, you could pair Zeffirelli's movie with Roomscapes: The Decorative Architecture of Renzo Mongiardino.
Or the more affordable Architectural Digest: Special Italian Edition from January 1994.
To learn more about Radziwill's walls covered with lacquered Sicilian scarves, see this past post and the NY Times story.
Image four, Radziwill in the 1960s in her London drawing room, republished in Domino, April 2006; Image five © Mark Hampton from Mark Hampton: The Art of Friendship, by Duane Hampton, Harper Collins, 2001; Image six is a a Horst photograph from Horst Interiors.