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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