Franco Zeffirelli (born Gian Franco Corsi Zeffirelli), Academy Award-nominee and recipient of several accolades, started his career as assistant director to noted Italian film-maker Luchino Visconti for drama-film ‘La Terra Trema’ (1948).
Initially Zeffirelli worked on some TV-movies, and directed documentary ‘Florence: Days of Destruction’ (1966) to help raise monetary aid for the disaster-affected.
Zeffirelli’s first feature-film as director was period romantic-comedy ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ (1967) inspired from Shakespeare’s play, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Next, he co-wrote and directed film-version of Shakespeare’s period romantic-tragedy ‘Romeo & Juliet’ (1968), a major box-office hit which earned him immense popularity and ‘Academy Award’ nomination.
Zeffirelli’s next was a religious film ‘Brother Sun, Sister Moon’ (1972) based on the life of religious figure ‘St. Francis of Assisi,’ followed by TV’s epic miniseries ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ (1977) which fetched high ratings and brought him global appreciation.
After successful opera productions, Zeffirelli directed American neo-noir sports-drama film ‘The Champ’ (1979) a remake of Oscar-winning 1931 film, and then romantic-drama film ‘Endless Love’ (1981) which faced criticism.
Thereafter, Zeffirelli adapted several operas into successful films such as ‘Cavalleria Rusticana’ (1982), ‘Pagliacci’ (1982), ‘La Traviata’ (1983) which won ‘BAFTA Award’ and ‘Academy Award’ nomination, and ‘Otello’ (1986) which won ‘BAFTA Award.’
Further, Zeffirelli directed biographical drama-film ‘Young Toscanini’ (1988) starring Elizabeth Taylor, and then drama-film ‘Hamlet’ (1990) based on Shakespearean play. His next film ‘Sparrow’ or ‘Storia di una capinera’ (1993) premiered at ‘Tokyo International Film Festival.’
Zeffirelli’s romantic-drama film ‘Jane Eyre’ (1996), adapted from Charlotte Bronte’s 1847 novel, received critical appreciation. His next directorial venture was semi-autobiographical ‘Tea with Mussolini’ (1999) inspired from his experience of growing up with expatriate English women. His last directed feature film was biographical ‘Callas Forever’ (2002), a tribute to opera star Maria Callas.
Based on the well-known play of the same name by William Shakespeare, this Oscar-winning film tells the story of Romeo Montague, a handsome young man, who falls in love with the beautiful and young Juliet Capulet. Although the two want to be with each other, their relationship creates a lot of tension due to the feud between their families.
The Taming of the Shrew is a romantic comedy drama film which tells the story of a woman named Katherine, whose father Baptista Minola, will marry off his youngest daughter Bianca, only if someone will marry Katherina, his eldest one. Problem is that Katherina is quite a shrewish and ill-tempered woman. A young British nobleman named Petruchio takes on the challenge of taming and marrying her.
Tea with Mussolini is a comedy drama war film which tells the story of a young boy named Luca, who is raised by a group of cultured English women, after his mother dies all of a sudden. However, when the Second World War breaks out, it turns their lives upside down.
Jane Eyre is an orphan who was cast out at an early age by Mrs Reed, her aunt, after which she was raised in a harsh all-girls charity school. She eventually learns to become a teacher and seeks employment outside. She is hired by Mr Rochester, and over some time, they fall in love.
The Champ is a sports drama film which tells the story of Billy Flynn, a former boxing champion, who is now addicted to drinking and gambling. When he comes to know that his wealthy former wife is trying to take his child away from him, he decides that he will return to the ring to provide for his son.
Based on the Shakespearean tragedy, it follows Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark, who returns home after his father King Hamlet’s death. He finds that his mother, Gertrude, has married his uncle Claudius, the new king. When King’s ghost appears and reveals that he was murdered by Claudius, Prince seethes to take revenge, but is also aware of the tragedy it may ensue.
Two young lovers, Tao and Valeria decide to go and enjoy a beautiful holiday in private, away from their daily life as well as from their parents.
Endless Love is a romantic drama film which tells the story of David and Jade, two high-school sweethearts in love with one another. However, Jade’s father forbids them from seeing each other, when Jade’s grades start to drop. Out of anger and frustration, David starts a fire on their front porch, which spreads too far. He is convicted of second-degree arson, and sentenced to probation for five years.
Franco Zeffirelli Awards
|Great Performances||Outstanding Individual Achievements - Classical Music/Dance Programming||1986|
|Pagliacci||Outstanding Individual Achievement - Classical Music/Dance Programming - Directing||1985|
|La traviata||Best Production Design/Art Direction||1984|