S’wounds! Did Shakespeare Write Your Favorite Movie?

The Globe Theatre on the South Bank of London.

The Globe Theatre on the South Bank of London.

Recently, Tom made a surprise visit to The Globe Theatre in London to see William Shakespeare’sRichard III.”  He was taking a break from filming his upcoming Warner Brothers Sci-Fi action film, ‘All You Need Is Kill.‘  The experience was so awesome, it prompted Tom to declare, “I love theatre.”

So it got us to thinking: Who is this Shakespeare guy and how many hit movies has he written?!

Okay, so truth is, Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, England in 1564 and died there in 1616.  But don’t let the cobwebs of time fool ya.  Hollywood heavyweights and filmmakers from American Buster Keaton to Australian Baz Luhrmann have looked to ‘The Bard of Avon” for movie making inspiration.  Orson Welles said Shakespeare would have been a great screenwriter.  But Edison didn’t reveal to the world the Kinetoscope until 1861, signaling the beginning of movie making history, 246 years after Shakespeare died.

Since the beginning of film history, more than 400 movies have been adapted from his work, making him the most filmed author…ever…in any language!  Did you know Disney’s ‘The Lion King’ is based on Shakespeare’s blood-soaked tragedy, Hamlet?

Below are five unique movies adapted from Shakespeare classics.  Enjoy a clip and brief history about each.  At the end of this post, we list FIVE Shakespeare plays.  We know you know movies!  So in the comments section, match the film title to the Shakespeare source.


1.  My Own Private Idaho (1991)

River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves star as two best friends living on the streets of Portland as hustlers embarking on a journey of self discovery and finding their relationship stumbling along the way.  Gus Van Sant found inspiration for his critically acclaimed independent film in a series of Shakespearian history plays.  Clue: Hal is his nickname.

2.  West Side Story (1961)

This 1957 Broadway musical smash was turned into a 1961 Academy Award winning Best Feature film.  But both were inspired by one of Shakespeare’s most beloved romantic tragedies.  Two young lovers from opposite sides of town face the fear of death to love each other.

3.  10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

In this favorite teen comedy with Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Kat (Stiles) is the outcast high school girl no guy can get.  That is until she meets rebel Patrick (Ledger) and the game of love and hate is on!  The modern day twist on a Shakespeare comedy is set in Padua Stadium High School.  If that doesn’t give you enough clues, you’ll have to be much shrewder.

4.  Forbidden Planet (1956)

A classic science fiction film set on another planet in deep space, far away from planet Earth.  It included a fool-like character named, Robby the Robot- a first of it’s kind in film.  All that was missing from the Shakespeare source material was a massive storm.

5.  Ran (1985)

Acclaimed Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa created one of the most iconic moments in film history with the climatic bloody battle scene.  However, it’s the intimate family story of a father’s hubris that should give away which Shakespeare play inspired this great film.

PS- if you’re ever looking for the perfect words to put on your tombstone, you might find inspiration from Shakespeare’s brilliant epitaph:

Good friend, for Jesus’ sake forbear
To dig the dust enclosed here.
Blessed be the man that spares these stones,
And cursed be he that moves my bones.

Show us you’re a movie expert.  In the comments section below, match the following Shakespeare plays to the numbered films featured above:

A)  The Tempest

B)  Romeo and Juliet

C)  King Lear

D)  Henry IV, Part I

E)  The Taming of the Shrew

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