Our Production Assistant shares her take on the legacy in Shakespeare plays.
Shakespeare; playwright, poet and actor. But also the credited inspiration for 525 films. The 23rd April is thought to mark both Shakespeare’s birth and death, so let’s take a look at some of the finest reworkings of Shakespeare plays available to watch.
Number 1. 7 Hours On Earth (2020) – First up, this alien high school comedy is based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Directed by Patricia Sharp and co-produced by Nostairway we see Outnumbered star, Ramona Marquez play Charlotte in this witty adaptation of the Bard’s most well-known comedy. In Shakespeare’s play the audience is told ‘the course of true love never did run smooth’. When aliens are downloaded into a high school they are bewildered by the relationships they find and they take it upon themselves to fix things before they have to leave earth. 7 Hours On Earth is heart-warming, funny and beautifully made. It is available to rent buy from Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube and MyProduction.
Number 2. Warm Bodies (2013) – Based on that most romantic of Shakespeare plays, Romeo and Juliet.
Nicholas Hoult plays a strangely thoughtful zombie who falls for Julie, the daughter of the head zombie hunter in a post-apocalyptic world. A pandemic has ravaged society and turned most people into blood thirsty zombies, but love offers hope for a new world. If most pandemic movies feel too close to the bone these days then give this a watch for some laughs, impressive zombie moves and the romance of Romeo and Juliet.
Number 3. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) – Based on the funniest of Shakespeare plays The Taming of the Shrew.
Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles play two headstrong high school outsiders. This was the breakout movie for Ledger and Stiles as well as Joseph Gordon-Levitt and is pure 90s teen rom-com bliss. The screenplay adapts the controversial ‘taming’ of the female lead to something more palatable for a modern audience. Julia Stiles resists outside pressure to fit in more, unlike her inspiration Katherina. There are plenty of funny moments in this film, as well as Heath Ledger singing and that iconic poetry reading. And if you like it, there’s a twenty-part TV series out there to watch.
Number 4. Lion King (1994) – This classic Disney animation influenced by Shakespeare’s best-known tragedy, Hamlet.
Scar kills Mufasa so that he can become king just as Claudius murders his brother, King Hamlet. Interestingly, it is Disney’s first animation that was an original story and is not a full reinterpretation of Hamlet, but certainly takes some narrative inspiration. This is probably a good thing too, as Hamlet is Shakespeare’s longest play, with one film of it being 242 minutes long, however the 1994 version of the Lion King is only 88 minutes long.
If you want to you could watch the 2019 photorealistic version with Beyonce and Childish Gambino’s voices, but I think the animated version is more heart-warming.
Number 5. West Side Story (1961) – Another iconic musical film, this time based on Romeo and Juliet.
Instead of the Montagues and the Capulets we have the Jets and the Sharks, and instead of Verona this musical is set in the Upper West Side. The tragedies have a message about the transformative power of love and the danger of hatred. The film’s classic musical numbers will have you laughing and crying. West Side story is everywhere, and its cultural significance is undeniable.
So there you go, the messages contained in Shakespeare plays about love and power may need some slight alterations but they still endure in today’s society, and they make for some great viewing.
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