Recaps & Reviews

Top 5 Movies You Didn’t Know Were Based On Shakespeare

This weekend Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing receives its long waited wide release, and based on the title alone most people are all ready aware that it’s based on a work by the bard himself, William Shakespeare.  Shakespeare adaptations have been around since the  motion picture’s inception, and whether you see the movie or not usually depends on whether or not you like the bard’s poetic words.    Like Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet from the mid 90’s, Much Ado About Nothing keeps the original language, but changes the setting to a more modern location.  Some movies however don’t make it so easy on you spotting their original author.  Not only does the setting change, but the words do as well.  We’ve listed our top 5 of these productions below.

Related Link: Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing Is Shakespeare At It’s Finest

The Lion King:  Disney didn’t try to hide the fact that their hit movie (not to mention musical) is loosely based on Hamlet.  A father deposed from his throne by cowardly means, an Uncle taking his place and sending the son away, and even a visit from a parental ghost appear in this flick.  It was probably for the best that this movie was converted, considering most kids may not have enjoyed listening to Simba going into long soliloquys.

West Side Story:  This winner of 10 Oscars, including best picture, changed the Montagues and Capulets into the Jets and Sharks, and and made them rival gangs instead of families.  This musical is still one of the best adaptations of the bard’s work, and if he were alive today he’d probably enjoy it too.

O:  Taking the story of Othello, and centering it around a young baseketball star instead of a solider was quite original and unique.  Mekhi Phifer, Josh Hartnett and Julia Stiles star in this tale of jealousy that will leave you stunned, even if you have read the play.

10 Things I Hate About You:  Julia Stiles is also one of the stars in this adaptation of Taming of the Shrew.  This romantic comedy was actually the launching pad for both Stiles and her co-star Heath Ledger’s careers.

My Own Private Idaho:  Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix star in this movie that is an adaptation of not one, but two Shakespeare plays.  Henry IV and Henry v are both represented here in this early work by Gus Van Saint.  Even though the language of the movie is paraphrased from the bard’s original text from time to time, the plot does stray a fair bit at times.