On May 25, local time, the Los Angeles Superior Court agreed to the request made by Paramount Pictures, formally dismissing the compensation claims made by the two leading actors of the 1968 version of "Romeo and Juliet" earlier this year, and made a decision not to file the case. in conclusion.
Released in 1968, "Romeo and Juliet" was directed by Italian Franco Zeffirelli and produced by Paramount. Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting, who played Juliet and Romeo in the film, were only 16 and 17 years old, respectively. The film was a huge success upon its release and was nominated for four Oscars, eventually winning two statuettes for Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design. White and Hussey also won a Golden Globe for their performance and became household names.
However, on December 30, 2022, the two entrusted a lawyer to file a lawsuit, demanding that Paramount Pictures pay 500 million U.S. dollars on the grounds that the bedroom nude scenes shot by the two in the film involved sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, fraud, etc. offense. Paramount Pictures, as the copyright owner of the film, released and released the film and launched various audio-visual products, and is also suspected of disseminating child pornography and obscenity. The injuries, the pair said, left them with anguish for decades as they demanded huge sums of money.
The poster of the film is selected from the nude scenes of the two.
It is reported that the film was shot in June 1967, and both of them were under 18 years old at that time, and both were minors. According to it, director Franco Zeffirelli originally told them that they would not need to actually strip for the intimate bedroom scenes, but would instead be filmed in flesh-colored underwear. But on the day of shooting, they were informed that "for the success of the film", they needed to go into battle naked; and they were comforted that they don't need to worry too much, because the camera and camera positions will be pre-set and their private parts will be avoided. As a result, there were still scenes of the male actor's bare buttocks and the female actress' bare chest in the screened film. In the opinion of the lawyers representing the two, this has violated the relevant laws of the United States and California and constituted harm to minors.
Zeffirelli (left) and the two leading actors on the set.
However, on May 25, the judge Alison Mackenzie (Alison Mackenzie) ruled that the evidence provided by the lawyers was not enough to prove that the film had the bad nature of "child pornography", so "Romeo and Juliet" "As a work of art, it is still protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution, and is still within the scope of freedom of speech and freedom of creation. "The plaintiff could not conclusively prove that the nude scenes violated the law, and in fact the plaintiffs also admitted that the nude scenes involving minors would only be considered child pornography if they were 'sufficiently sexually suggestive' .In the end, the plaintiff was unable to submit any authoritative opinions to prove that the film has enough sexual implications." The judge said in the ruling.
In response to this decision, the lawyers representing the two actors said that they were very disappointed and did not rule out the possibility of continuing the case to the federal court. "They believe that justice will be served one day," said the attorney representing them. "They have waited 55 years before, and if they need to wait more time to appeal in the future, they are willing to wait."
It is reported that if the case is to be appealed to the federal court, the two actors may use the Blu-ray disc of "Romeo and Juliet" newly produced by American Standard during Valentine's Day on February 14 this year as important physical evidence. According to his lawyer, Standard and Paramount re-restored the film in high-definition. In the high-definition picture of this Blu-ray disc, the nude parts of the two parties have also been presented more clearly than before. As a minor at the time, such nudity must have involved child pornography, so I believe that a higher federal court will support their claim for compensation.
The new version of the video disc produced by Standard Company has restored the picture in high-definition, which may become important physical evidence.
Intriguingly, back in 2018, Olivia Hussey was interviewed by Variety to promote her autobiography "The Girl on the Balcony", and also mentioned this character from "Romeo and Juliet". A naked scene. She said, "The director filmed this scene very tastefully, and this is also the need of the plot." In addition, in an interview with Fox News, she also said that in the United States at that time, such situations were "taboo", but It is very common in European movies. "It wasn't a big deal, and Leonard wasn't shy at all. It was a movie, and I forgot I wasn't wearing any clothes."
It is reported that the reason for choosing to file a lawsuit at the end of 2022 is also because California passed a new law last year, allowing such cases of sexual abuse and infringement of minors that have already passed the statute of limitations to file a claim within last year. . As a result, in the days leading up to the Dec. 31 deadline last year, courts across the state received a flood of claims against the Boy Scouts of America, the Catholic Church and other organizations, including the two stars of "Romeo and Juliet." Claims against Paramount Pictures.
"Romeo and Juliet" director Franco Zeffirelli passed away in 2019 and is no longer able to respond to the allegations made by the two actors. However, the director's adopted son Giuseppe Zeffirelli said earlier, "It's really embarrassing. After 55 years, two old people who thought it was because of this work that they became famous Actors, suddenly wake up and publicly announce that they have been abused, and it has caused them to feel anxiety and discomfort for years." In 2018, taking advantage of the global anti-sexual assault movement, actor Jonathan Schaech ( Johnathon Schaech also accused Zeffirelli in his real name of sexually assaulting him on the set of "Sparrow" (Sparrow) more than 20 years ago. Zeffirelli, who was still alive at the time, did not respond positively to this.
Actor Jonathan Schaech (right) has accused director Zeffirelli of sexual assault.