Sunday, June 16, 2019

Sunday, June 16, 2019 12:00 am by M. in , ,    No comments
Several national and international media outlets inform of the death of the film, theatre, opera, and television producer and director, Franco Zeffirelli (1923-2019):
Picture Source:
Encyclopedia Britannica

Clive Coot—Fotos International/Archive Photos
Franco Zeffirelli, the Italian director renowned for his extravagantly romantic opera productions, popular film versions of Shakespeare and supercharged social life, died on Saturday at his home in Rome. He was 96.
His death was confirmed by a spokesman for the Franco Zeffirelli Foundation in Florence.
Critics sometimes reproached Mr. Zeffirelli’s opera stagings for a flamboyant glamour more typical of Hollywood’s golden era, while Hollywood sometimes disparaged his films as too highbrow. But his success with audiences was undeniable. (Jonathan Kandell)
E' morto Franco Zeffirelli. Aveva 96 anni. Se ne va un gigante della cultura, del teatro e del cinema italiani. Zeffirelli è morto nella sua casa a Roma, sulla via Appia, dove abitava da tempo, circondato dalla famiglia, e dai suoi amati cagnolini. Sceneggiatore, attore, regista. Il suo contributo alla cultura italiana è stato grandissimo. (Titti Giulano Foti)
He directed lavish opera productions and mastodontic miniseries about Jesus of Nazareth, collaborated with Maria Callas, adapted Shakespeare with critical and popular success Shakespeare (since the mythical Romeo and Juliet 1968 until Hamlet 1990 with Mel Gibson, not forgetting The Taming of the Shrew with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton), brilliantly participated in the Brits-in-Tuscany subgenre with the semiautobiographical Tea with Mussolini 1999. He also was twice appointed as Italian Senator for the Silvio Berlusconi-lead Forza Italia party.

But for us, BrontëBlog, he will always be the director of Jane Eyre 1996.  It seems to us that there is no better farewell to Mr. Zeffirelli than Roger Ebert's article about the film and his work as a director:
The new "Jane Eyre" has been directed and co-written by Franco Zeffirelli, the Italian director of films and opera who is drawn to English literature; he made the Taylor-Burton "Taming of the Shrew" in 1967, a classic” Romeo and Juliet" in 1968, and Mel Gibson's 1990 "Hamlet." The first two of those films were bursting with life and color, but "Hamlet" had a gloomier, damper texture, and with "Jane Eyre," Zeffirelli has banished brightness and created a cold, gray world where, as the dialogue has it, "The shadows are as important as the light."
This is the right approach. Jane Eyre's world must seem an ominous and forbidding place, charged with implied sexuality. In a sense, Jane’s environment is sexuality -- which surrounds her, misunderstood and unacknowledged.
The movie creates the right visual atmosphere, of deep shadows and gloomy interiors; the cinematographer, David Watkin, who also shot Zeffirelli's "Hamlet," makes Thornfield Hall into a place where Jane's bedchamber is sunny and bright, but the spaces controlled by Rochester are ominous. (...)
What I liked about this version is that Zeffirelli is true to the characters. Rochester never really melts, and Jane Eyre is spared the obligatory glamor shot when she takes her hair down and we realize she was really beautiful all along (as when Joan Fontaine starred in the 1944 version, opposite Orson Welles' Rochester). This is a romance between two troubled, wounded people, and by playing it that way Zeffirelli makes it touching, when it could have been recycled Gothic Lite.


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