This week marked the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth. The great Bard gave us 16 comedies, 10 histories, 12 tragedies, 154 sonnets, and five longer poems. Many of his plays have been transferred to the big screen and many others have inspired films that might not share the exact same stories or titles, but were clearly inspired by Shakespeare’s plays.
Great adaptations have been filmed by great artists such as Kenneth Branagh, Orson Welles, Akira Kurosawa and Laurence Olivier. But here are some of the films that might not seem at first sight Shakespearean and might surprise you:
10 Things I Hate About You (1999) inspired by Taming of the Shrew
In the late 90s flick, Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles, star in the high school version of the Taming of the Shrew.
I think that anyone who was a teen in 90s, has seen this movie… At least us girls...
O (2001) inspired by Othello
Again starring Julia Stiles (those were her glory days); Othello set in a high school and centered on basketball player Odin.
She's the Man (2006) inspired by Twelfth Night
A more embarrassing, unnecessary, yet short of fun to watch “version” of the Twelfth Night, starring Amanda Bynes (remember her?); you can totally live without having seen this one…
The Lion King (1994) inspired by Hamlet
Yes. Lion King. The Disney animated film. It might not strike you at first, but Lion King is sooo the Hamlet story. Minus the Hakuna Matata song.
Much Ado About Nothing (2013) inspired by Much Ado About Nothing
This latest version of the same titled Shakespearean play, is a really good adaptation of the original text, but in the modern era with a modern touch.
Warm Bodies (2013) inspired by Romeo and Juliet
Yes, I mean the Zombie film. Even if it was not Romeo & Juliet inspired, I would still like this film; what’s not to like? Zombies & Shakespeare… amazing combo!
My Own Private Idaho (1991) inspired by Henry IV Part 1
One of Gus Van Sant’s best films that features the late River Phoenix, is indeed inspired by Henry IV and Henry V.
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (1990)
This film is not so much inspired by a play of the Bard, rather than two characters that actually play a very small part in Hamlet. In this hilarious 1990 film starring Gary Oldman and Tim Roth, the characters seem to be unaware of the greater story that they are part of and try to deviate from it.
And then there are those films that were not inspired by Shakespeare’s plays, but rather from his own life: Shakespeare In Love (1998) was inspired by his life as we know it (with a small romantic twist), giving Gwyneth Paltrow her first (and hopefully last) Academy award and Anonymous (2011) was inspired by Shakespeare's life according to the Oxfordian Theory; saying that Shakespeare did not actually write his plays.
But, for me, the best non-traditional adaptation of a Shakespeare play will always be Baz Lurman’s: Romeo + Juliet. The cast, the direction, the music, the editing; the Lurman way to transfer the legendary play to the modern era...
Ever since I first set foot on a cinema theatre, I knew that something magical was happening there....