We may have briefly encountered Shakespeare during our schooldays, but we hardly realise that he is right in our faces throughout our lives. Our filmmakers have kept him alive like no other medium has. As we celebrate the great bard’s birth anniversary this weekend, April 23, we look at some of the best film adaptations based on his works. Go, make your movie marathon plan, right away!
10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
Heath Ledger has never looked more adorable than he did in this teen adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Taming Of The Shrew. Set in a high school, we see naïve Cameron (Joseph Gordon Levitt) hire the quintessential bay boy Patrick (Ledger) to woo Katarina (Julia Stratford). One simply cannot miss the sonnet at the end of the movie recited by Katarina. This 90s rom-com sure must have made Good Old Willy weep tears of joy in his grave.
She’s The Man (2006)
Who knew Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night would lend so brilliantly to a ten sports comedy. Amanda Bynes as Viola Hastings is adorably powerful. Viola poses as her twin brother to join the rival high school’s soccer team and falls for Duke (before Channing Tatum became the famous Channing Tatum). I wish there were more such teen Shakespearean adaptations to make the Bard even cooler for syllabus. Best part about the movie is that they have retained the character names from the play – Sebastian, Duke and Viola.
Roman Polanski’s Macbeth (1971) sure is one of the iconic adaptations of the Shakespearean tragedy. And nobody must have thought a better retelling could happen until Australian director Justin Kurzel painted the silver screen with some of the goriest and most violent vision. A lot was said before the film released about French actress Marion Cotillard playing Lady Macbeth. However, all doubts were cleared as the film made it to the Cannes and Cotillard and Michael Fassbender delivered what could possibly be their best performance ever. Unlike other adaptations, Kurzel’s Macbeth also pulled of the herculean task of sticking to the original text. Watch it for some of the most picturesque and stunning cinematography.
Bollywood’s ace filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj has adapted three Shakespearean tragedies till now – Omkara (Othello), Maqbool (Macbeth) and Haider (Hamlet). Each better than the previous one. And Haider remains his bravest work ever. Considering the political climate of the country, Bhardwaj fearlessly presented the atrocities on the Kashmir valley and the brutalities of AFSPA with Hamlet serving as the bigger, subtler fabric. Not to miss the representation of the Oedipal angle between Tabu’s Gertrude and Shahid’s Hamlet.
Romeo + Juliet (1996)
Yet another outstanding effort in which the original text is used verbatim. However, that only makes this romantic tragedy a funny piece considering the characters are set in present day Verona. Imagine Leonardo Di Caprio’s Romeo floundering in Hawaiian shirts and gangs chasing each other in fancy convertibles. Baz Luhrmann, known for his larger-than-life vision, doesn’t leave any stone unturned in creating a masterpiece in this Shakespearean adaptation.
While most filmmakers choose to adapt the Bard’s tragedies for the big screen, Gulzar gave Bollywood of the time timeless comedies in Angoor – a retelling of The Comedy of Errors. The story follows the misadventures of identical twins who get separated during childhood, and the laugh riot that ensues when they meet years later.
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