How Long is Too Long?

Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting were 15 and 16 years of age when they starred in Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet, which was released in 1968.

If you grew up in the 1980’s you’ve probably seen it, as I did. It was a long time ago and while it had a certain soft-core eroticism about it, I don’t recall it being particularly shocking.

I mention this because the two actors, currently in their 70’s, are suing Paramount Pictures – the studio that released the film, according to The Hollywood Reporter – for sexually exploiting them as well as distributing nude images of adolescents.

And while I want to be careful about making judgements about someone’s lived experience – especially if it’s one that I haven’t had – over five decades have passed since the event Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting are accusing Zeffirelli of.

Franco Zeffirelli died in 2019.

If we’ we’re talking about murder or rape I’d have no issue with what the two actors are doing, though nudity – especially when there’s a such thing as artistic nudity – is another matter.

And you could call Zeffirelli’s movie a lot of things, though porn isn’t one of them.

Though what makes Hussey and Whiting’s claims a bit harder to swallow is that both actors received Golden Globes for their performance and the former starred in Zeffirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth in 1977.

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