In the movie, this scene is substantially cut. Romeo and Balthazar enter the graveyard, Balthazar then parts company with Romeo, who breaks his way into the crypt. The appearance and killing of Paris are edited out. Leonard Whiting, in interview with Russell Jackson (Jackson 2007 at p.213), confirms that the full scene involving Paris was filmed – “According to Whiting, the director told him that he had two pieces of news for him: the good news was that this was the best acting he had done in the film, the bad that he was not going to use it. The cut was necessary to save time.” As with the omission of the apothecary scenes, the deletion deprives us of seeing an important development in Romeo’s character – his propensity to use violence in order to get his way.
However, the cutting of important parts of the original Shakespearian play was not simply a matter of merely reducing its length. Zeffirelli had a clear strategy in mind when he directed this movie. In interview, he stated:
“I think the cuts were sound…We had to cut the killing of Paris. You don’t want that. I mean young people wanted us to have the romantic meeting between the dead girl – who was not dead – and Romeo who had threatened to kill himself. If he was a murderer – “Ugly boy, ugly boy!” – it wouldn’t have worked. And besides, the thing was already long enough.” – Staging Shakespeare – Seminars on Production Problems at p.245 (ed. Glenn Loney. Garland Publishing. 1990. New York).
Script content: © 1968, Paramount Pictures Corporation
This typescript version: © 2018, Peter Hibbert and the Romeo and Juliet 1968 Movie Database
Revised Scene – Final version
Original scripted scene
Below is Scene 61 from the shooting script, as originally written for the movie.