What better birthday to celebrate than one of the best storytellers in history — William Shakespeare? Of course, everyone thinks of Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet when thinking of Shakespeare, but his play still inspire and are the basis of many movies. Being a movie buff, here are my top 5 picks of movies based on Shakespeare.
Much Ado About Nothing (1993)
Based on a play of the same name, this is really a fantastic comedy film about mistaken identity and suppressed affections with an all-star cast. On the British side, we have Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson and Kate Beckinsale. On the American side, Michael Keaton is perfect as the bumbling Dogberry and Denzel Washington plays a noble Prince.
West Side Story (1961)
Romeo and Juliet turns to the streets of New York for the retelling of this classic Shakespeare story. Maria and Tony fall in love, despite being a part of rival gangs. The ending does change a bit with this adaptation, but not enough to keep it from winning the Oscar for Best Picture in 1961.
10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
It is easy to see where this one comes from, The Taming of the Shrew. Bianca and Cameron are forbidden to date until shrewish older sister, Kat, is dating as well. Kat, played by Julia Stiles, gets set up to date “bad boy” Patrick, portrayed by Heath Ledger. Cameron even disguises himself as a language tutor, just as Lucentio did in Shakespeare’s original play.
Based on Shakespeare’s work King Lear, Ran, is the story of two sons that are battling over the division over their father’s estate. This is a film everyone should see and is masterfully directed by Akira Kurosawa. One of the greatest epics of all time.
Forbidden Planet (1956)
That’s right, one of the truly classic sci-fi films is based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Instead of being stranded on an island, the story here takes place on a planet with a utopian society. As with the play, the planet's ruler, Morbius, sees his daughter fall in love with one of the outsiders, despite his objections. This film also gave us one of the most-recognizable robots in film history, Robby the Robot. A must see for everyone.
Jim is Art Director at Half Price Books Corporate.