From Gus van Sant to Orson Welles: Looking Back at the Best Shakespearean Adaptations on Film

For the last century or so, many a filmmaker has tried their hand at revamping the wonderful world of William Shakespeare. It’s certainly no easy feat but there have indeed been a handful of minds who’ve mananged to capture the essence of the text in a way that allows it to rise from the page and come to life with vigor, whereas others sadly just fall flat.  There are those which have provided literal and deeply precise re-workings of plays such as King Lear, Richard III, Hamlet—brilliantly acted and cinematically challenging, yet a bit stale. Then there are the Baz Luhrmann’s of the world who take Billy Shakes’ age old words and wind them into a modern world, blowing dust off the pages and infusing classic tragedies with a renewed sense of purpose and thrill. And lastly, there are those who have abstractly crafted their own contemporary tales based on various pieces of Shakespearean a la My Own Private Idaho.

And this weekend, we’ll see the premiere of Joss Whedon’s absolutely charming, sexy, smart, and delightful Much Ado About Nothing—which mixes both the classical precision with modern thrill to give us unqiuely totally refreshing. So if you’re in the mood to revisit some favorite adaptations in anticipation for Whedon’s Much Ado, here are our favorites for you to peruse. Enjoy.


Romeo + Juliet, 1997



Richard III, 1955



Hamlet, 2000



Ran, 1985



Hamlet, 1948 



My Own Private Idaho, 1991



A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1935 



Much Ado About Nothing, 1993



West Side Story, 1957



Hamlet, 1996



Othello, 1952 



10 Things I Hate About You, 1999 

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