Unlikely Films Based on Shakespeare Plays – Part 1

William Shakespeare is one of history’s most celebrated playwrights. The fact that his works are still performed over 400 years after he wrote them is a testament to his adoration that is as strong now as it ever was. It’s no secret that many of these plays have been adapted to movies, some with the same script others tailored to fit modern times, either way the still capture the core essence of his original tale. There are some however that may not be so obvious in the interpretation, let us take a look at a few of them.

Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night is one of Shakespeare’s comedy plays that centres around Viola, a woman who disguises herself as a man, whilst in this disguise she falls in love with Duke Orsino, though he has eyes for the Countess Olivia. Just to make things slightly more complicated the Countess in turn falls in love with Viola, believing her to be a man. Naturally hilarity ensues. There have been a number of films based on the story but did you know that the 2006 teen rom-com She’s The Man was one of them? In this film Viola Hastings (Amanda Bynes) enrols in her twin brothers’ school disguised as him in order to join the boy’s soccer team after the girl’s team got dropped. The film however was not well received and may want to be avoided by fans of the source material.

The Taming of the Shrew

Another of his comedies The Taming of the Shrew is the tale of a man who courts a particularly headstrong woman or ‘shrew’ and goes through a series of demeaning psychological torments in order to ‘tame’ her. These torments include things like denying her food and drink until she becomes obedient to the man. By todays standards of course this story is highly sexist however it was all in jest in the 1590s so that must be taken into account. Despite this we still see adaptations made and did you know that the popular 1999 rom-com 10 Things I Hate About You is one of these? In order to fit the tale into a modern setting (both literally and figuratively) it’s set once again in a high school, this time the story follows a new student named Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who begins dating a girl named Bianca (Larisa Oleynik), in order to quell her fathers strict rules, he employs the help of the school bad boy named Patrick (Heath Ledger). His task is to date Bianca’s bad-tempered sister Kat (Julia Stiles). It’s a somewhat loose adaptation and was well received by audiences. The film was adapted into a TV series a decade later which ran for 20 episodes before eventually getting cancelled. It did however serve as a breakout role for both Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger, the latter of which received an Oscar for his performance in The Dark Knight before his untimely demise.


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