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Shakespeare in Film

Shakespeare’s influence can be seen in countless films over the past century. The stories that he tells are appealing not only because of how well the audience can relate to the situations of different characters but also because of the light that is shed on man’s character in general. How many times have you seen a movie about forbidden love or an interracial couple? How many films deal with a man haunted by his actions or seeking revenge? The themes of each of Shakespeare’s plays are universal and do not lose meaning over time. In this post I will give a few more popular examples of Shakespeare’s influence on film.

Forbidden Planet (1956)

1. Forbidden Planet

Director: Fred M. Wilcox

Starring: Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen

(Nominated for an oscar)

Based on: The Tempest

Watch the trailer below:

Romeo + Juliet (1996)


2. Romeo + Juliet

Director: Baz Luhrmann

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes, John Leguizamo

(Nominated for an oscar)

Based on: Romeo and Juliet

Watch the trailer below:





Ran (1985)


3. Ran

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Starring: Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Terao, Jinpachi Nezu

(Won an oscar, nominated for three others)

Based On: King Lear

Watch the trailer below:





Prospero's Books (1991)


4. Prospero’s Books

Director: Peter Greenaway

Starring: John Gielgud, Michael Clark, Michel Blanc

(Nominated for BAFTA film award)

Based on: The Tempest

Watch the trailer below:





West Side Story (1961)


5. West Side Story

Directors: Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise

Starring: Natalie Wood, George Chakiris, Richard Beymer

(Won 10 oscars, nominated for another 1)

Based on: Romeo and Juliet

Watch the trailer below:





Men of Respect (1990)


6. Men of Respect

Director: William Reilly

Starring: John Turturro, Katherine Borowitz, Dennis Farina

Based on: Macbeth

Watch the trailer below:






O (2001)


7. O

Director: Tim Blake Nelson

Starring: Mekhi Phifer, Julia Stiles, Josh Hartnett

Based On: Othello

Watch the trailer below:







10 Things I Hate About You (1999)


8. 10 Things I Hate About You

Director: Gil Junger

Starring: Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Based On: The Taming of the Shrew

Watch the trailer below:






She's The Man (2006)


9. She’s The Man

Director: Andy Fickman

Starring: Amanda Bynes, Channing Tatum, Laura Ramsey

Based On: Twelfth Night

Watch the trailer below:






My Own Private Idaho (1991)


10. My Own Private Idaho

Director: Gus Van Sant

Starring: River Phoenix, Keanu Reeves, James Russo

Based On: Henry IV

Watch the trailer below:







Scotland, Pa. (2001)


11. Scotland, Pa.

Director: Billy Morrissette

Starring: Christopher Walken, James LeGros, Maura Tierney

Based On: Macbeth

Watch the trailer below:






The Tempest (2010)


12. The Tempest

Director: Julie Taymor

Starring: Helen Mirren, Felicity Jones, Djimon Hounsou

Based On: The Tempest

Watch the trailer below:






Categories: Multimedia Essays
  1. Francisco Falgui
    February 14, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    The Shakespeare influence in some of these movies are easy to spot. I didn’t know about the others though. It’s nice that you were able to spot it. Do you know where I can get a copy or where I can view the older movies like Ran and Forbidden Planet?

  2. February 16, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    Thanks! I know you could download them from btjunkie.com.

  3. February 20, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    Just curious, how did you find all these movies? I mean I see some really obscure ones and yet they are influenced by Shakespeare.

  4. March 10, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    I have seen a few and others I learned about simply from looking around on the internet

  1. March 18, 2011 at 11:52 pm

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