William Shakespeare is without a doubt the most celebrated playwright of all time and is considered as the greatest writer in the English language. Considering this fact, it isn’t surprising that his plays were an inspiration to a number of films. Whilst some TV adaptations are more obvious (such as 2012’s The Hollow Crown), there are others which would not strike you at first glance to be adapted and are quite loosely tied to his plays. Here are 5 films you might have not known were inspired by Shakespeare!
West Side Story (1961)
Echoing Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, broadway musical and film adaptation of West Side Story (1961) is about forbidden love and romance across familiar barriers in a large city, with a constant feud from both sides of the family. This leads to violence and death and at the end, we get the reconciliation between the two families. Despite their differences; these plays definitely have similarities with each other
10 Things I hate About You (1999)
This movie is one of the most iconic romantic comedies released in the 90s. Starring Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles, the film is a classic modernisation of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Whilst not everyone has read this Shakespearean play, Baptista, the father of Katherine and Bianca (they even used the same names!), desires to find husands for both his daughters and despite Bianca getting several admirers, the father wants his eldest Katherine, the “shrew”, to marry first. Lucientio, the character wanting to marry Bianca finds Petruccio, who only wants to marry, to “tame” Katherine, so Lucentio can marry Bianca. Besides this, the poem Kat read at the end is the derivative version of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 141.
Warm Bodies (2013)
This paranormal romantic comedy has been best described as the undead take on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Based on Isaac Marion’s novel of the same name, the movie centers around the development of the forbidden relationship between ‘Julie’ and the zombie ‘R’. With ‘M’ being ‘R’s best friend, this echoes Mercutio being Romeo’s own best friend. We also have Nora who is Julie’s confidant, who wants to take up the profession as a nurse which we see her do at the end. Similarly to this, in Romeo and Juliet, the nurse is Juliet’s bosom friend and she helps her communicate with Romeo.
She’s the Man (2006)
Despite many not noticing at first, this 2006 comedy starring Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum is based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. The film portrays Bynes as Viola Hastings who disguises herself as her twin brother Sebastian Hastings to play on his college’s football team after hers was cut. We see that Viola (both in the play and in the movie) deals with a conflict which leads her to dress up as a man. Despite this conflict being a different one, this film is definitely loyal to Shakespeare.
The Lion King (1994)
Despite many controversies about whether or not this film was adapted from Shakespeare, The Lion King (1994)is actually inspited by Hamlet and this is true as it was confirmed in the 1994 special edition DVD release of the film, The Lion King Platinum Edition. Both the main characters Simba and Hamlet are princes; both have shady uncles running around which leads to a battle between them and invoking revenge; both witness the death of their fathers and then said fathers reappear as ghosts and lastly, both have an internal conflict which the audience can witness while watching the movie and reading the play.
With a vast variety of adaptations from all over the world, this helps not only strengthen Shakespeare’s legacy, but also giving the people modernized echoes of his plays re-made into films (if you’re not into reading them). Enjoy!