Los Angeles County choose Alison Mackenzie confirmed she would grant Paramount Photos’ movement to throw out a lawsuit over a nude scene within the 1968 movie Romeo and Juliet, citing the First Modification.
Earlier this 12 months, lead actors Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting sued Paramount for sexual exploitation and youngster abuse over the usage of nude footage within the film, which was captured once they have been 15 and 16, respectively. Within the go well with, the actors claimed that their consent was violated by the movie’s director Franco Zeffirelli, who died in 2019.
In January 2020, the statute of limitations for childhood sexual assault civil claims in California was suspended for 3 calendar years. The Romeo and Juliet go well with towards Paramount was filed simply forward of the December 31, 2022 cut-off for survivors of childhood sexual assault to file a civil criticism for abuse no matter their age.
Mackenzie, nevertheless, discovered that the plaintiffs had not complied with the provisions of the momentary suspension of the statute of limitations for youngster intercourse abuse claims. The choose additionally rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that the nude scene may very well be thought of “youngster pornography.” Moreover, she mentioned the movie qualifies for First Modification safety.
“Plaintiffs haven’t put forth any authority exhibiting the movie right here will be deemed to be sufficiently sexually suggestive as a matter of legislation to be held to be conclusively unlawful,” the choose wrote in her resolution. “Plaintiffs’ argument on the topic is restricted to cherry-picked language from federal and state statutes with out providing any authority relating to the interpretation or utility of these statutory provisions to purported works of inventive benefit, such because the award-winning movie at situation right here.”
In her ruling, Mackenzie quoted from an appeals courtroom precedent that mentioned youngster pornography is “notably repulsive,” however “not all pictures of nude kids are pornographic.”
The actors’ lawyer, Solomon Gresen, denounced the choice and mentioned there are plans to file one other model of the go well with in federal courtroom.
“We firmly imagine that the exploitation and sexualization of minors within the movie trade should be confronted and legally addressed to guard susceptible people from hurt and make sure the enforcement of current legal guidelines,” Gresen mentioned in an announcement.
On the time of the go well with submitting, Tony Marinozzi, who serves as a enterprise supervisor for each Hussey and Whiting, defined that Zeffirelli violated Hussey and Whiting’s consent by filming them nude with out their data.
“What they have been informed and what went on have been two various things,” Marinozzi mentioned in an announcement. “They trusted Franco. At 16, as actors, they took his lead that he wouldn’t violate that belief they’d. Franco was their pal, and admittedly, at 16, what do they do? There are not any choices. There was no #MeToo.”
Gresen added in an interview with Selection, “These have been very younger naive kids within the ’60s who had no understanding of what was about to hit them. Hastily they have been well-known at a degree they by no means anticipated, and as well as they have been violated in a approach they didn’t know methods to cope with.”
The director’s son, Pippo Zeffirelli, slammed the lawsuit, saying the scene in query was “removed from pornographic.”
“Zeffirelli himself was accused of being reactionary exactly as a result of, again and again, he spoke out towards pornography,” Pippo famous. “The nude pictures within the movie specific the wonder, the switch, I’d even say the candor of mutual giving and don’t comprise any morbid feeling.”
Zeffirelli’s tackle the basic Shakespeare play was nominated for Finest Image on the Academy Awards, whereas he additionally earned a nod for Finest Director. The movie finally received two Oscars, one for Finest Cinematography and one other for Finest Costume Design.
Although the nude scenes garnered controversy upon the movie’s launch, Hussey herself brushed it off in a 2018 interview with Selection celebrating Romeo and Juliet‘s fiftieth anniversary. “No person my age had completed that earlier than. It was wanted for the movie,” she mentioned on the time.