10 films you didn’t know were based on Shakespeare
William Shakespeare has been dead for 400 years this year, but we still celebrate his work as though it were only yesterday. In celebration of the bard – and the BBC’s Shakespeare Festival 2016, which continues with The Hollow Crown tonight – we’ve compiled a list of ten films you (probably) didn’t know were based on the works of Britain’s most famous writer.
1. The Lion King (Based on Hamlet)
The Disney film about lions was actually based on the story of Hamlet, which explains why it was so brutal for a children’s film. In Hamlet, the king is murdered by his brother and the king’s son sent into exile before reclaiming the throne. Thankfully, there’s less killing in the Disney version.
2. She’s the Man (Based on Twelfth Night)
Twelfth Night is a typical Shakespearian comedy, playing with love triangles, misunderstandings and deception. In both the film and play, protagonist Viola disguises herself as a man and wins the attention of a very confused Duke. She does so for different reasons, and pretends to be different men, but the outcome is very much the same.
3. 10 Things I Hate About You (Based on The Taming of the Shrew)
The Taming of the Shrew was the inspiration for the wildly successful 90s film 10 Things I Hate About You. Both film and play were about sisters Bianca – pursued by multiple suitors – and the disagreeable Cat, whose father insisted Bianca could not date until Cat did as well.
4. Warm Bodies (Based on Romeo & Juliet)
We can probably name a list of Romeo and Juliet-inspired works off the top of our heads, but did you know the zombie hit starring Nicholas Hoult is also of Shakespearian origin? The love affair between a human and a zombie is pretty different to the two warring families of Verona, but it was an interesting take on a well known classic.
5. Forbidden Planet (Based on The Tempest)
Science fiction 50s film Forbidden Planet seems pretty far removed from Shakespeare – and yet it’s actually a clever reworking of The Tempest. Both stories are about a crazy scientist who lives alone but for a daughter, isolated from the world and seeking to control it through the weather or (in the film) alien technology. This all changes when a group of men enter their new world, the leader of said group falling in love with the daughter.
6. Get Over It (Based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
Get Over It is an example of a more blatant Shakespeare recreation. In Get Over It, students at a high school perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream – and their lives, unexpectedly, begin to parallel the tale.
7. O (Based on Othello)
O is of course a recreation of Othello, which goes a long way to explaining why it’s so messed up. The story is basically about a frustrated man’s plot to bring down the successful Othello, and then loads of murder.
8. Kiss Me Kate (Based on The Taming of the Shrew)
Another Taming of the Shrew-inspired film, Kiss Me Kate is based on the musical of the same name and is about a warring former husband and wife who are portraying the roles of Katherine and Petruchio in an adaptation of the Shakespeare play. Again, their lives begin to mimic the play.
9. My Own Private Idaho (Based on Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2, and Henry V)
The story of a gay hustler’s search for his mother is actually loosely based upon Shakespeare’s plays about Henry IV and Henry V, which feature a strained father-son relationship between the two real-life kings. Although the story is told through the eyes of Mike Waters, it is his best friend Scott who has a Shakespearian-style relationship with his father.
10. A Thousand Acres (Based on King Lear)
The film A Thousand Acres, which is based upon the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, began life inspired by King Lear and shares the same basic plot. Three daughters must share the division of their father’s estate, causing rivalry and in true bard fashion – tragedy.