Archives For Olivia Hussey

Olivia Hussey in Zeferelli's adaption of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

Olivia Hussey in Zeffirelli’s interpretation  of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

“You know how Harold Bloom says that Shakespeare invented us? It’s a fascinating idea, and you can go quite far with it,” said  Director Mike Nichols in a New York Times interview several years ago.

What Mr. Nichols was referring to is the BIG IDEA  that William Shakespeare ( with his complex characterizations of men and women and their triumphs and tragedies against backgrounds of power, compromise and fancy etc.)  — painted a portrait so brilliant  of  modern  man and woman, that civilization stepped into the portrait. The  conception of man rendered by Shakespeare became western man.

This was a concept espoused for many years and still is by Yale professor, Harold Bloom, who is a Shakespeare scholar and comes just this side of deifying the Bard.

Yes, of course, there were the esteemed Greeks and Romans who had painted man with a fine and ironic palette — but they had not suffered through seven hundred years of the dark ages. Fictional men were land grabbing  barbarians or kings and then they died. Fictional women were good for child-bearing and then they, too, died. Along came the renaissance and, later William Shakespeare. Through his intuitiveness with poetry and theatrics , he shined on  humankind a most brilliant light . No one fully knows of Shakespeare’s religious beliefs yet TIME Magazine maintains there are 1400 Biblical references in his collected works.  Many scholars believe the Bard helped in 1611 with the translations associated with the King James Version of the Bible. One of is most quoted passages “What a piece of work is man” is a loving homage to Psalm  8, according to scholars.

As this is Valentine’s Day, no other single storyteller created a more impactful view of romantic love than William Shakespeare. Is there anything more beautiful than his rendering of Juliet and her Romeo? For centuries, this romance and its  highly charged,electric language has touched people is such a way that the very essence of tragic love seemed to be etched on our hearts before we ever saw  or read it. It’s as if the play reads our hearts due to its transformational manner. As Harold Bloom mystically says, “You don’t read Shakespeare, Shakespeare reads you.”

My favorite movie version of Romeo And Juliet remains the interpretation  directed by Franco Zeffirelli. It stars  Olivia Hussey  as Juliet. Ms. Hussey’s performance spills over in radiant youth and her multi-faceted performance carries the mark of  angel, lover, bride, reaper and poet.  My good friend, producer Ileen Maisel has just made a new medieval version of   the classic  love story starring the gifted, Hailee Steinfeld , who was nominated for an oscar for her performance in True Grit. As Ileen’s version will not be available until later this year, I have posted the balcony scene from Zeffirelli’s version. The wonder of the Shakespeare’s remarkable words and Ms. Hussey’s lovely performance still stand strong against time. Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! May someone sweet to you say words as beautiful as these…

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