Hello all of my beautiful blog readers!!! It is Tuesday which means I am in Oregon and it is storming right now!!! So I am stuck inside but at least it gives me time to write a post! Obviously I have been on a serious 90’s kick lately (well when am I not on a 90’s kick honestly) but I decided to switch it up a bit and turn the focus to one of my other passions which is film. I, like most of you, absolutely LOVE filling my free time with watching movies. My question for you is how many of you knew that some of the movies you were watching were ACTUALLY modern renditions of Shakespeare plays? I am sure if you were Shakespeare fans like me then you caught on pretty quick (or if maybe the movie shared the same title lol) but there are a lot of people who paid NO attention during English class and really had NO IDEA. This sparked my interest and brought about today’s post.
Let’s start with my absolute FAVORITE modern day Shakespeare movie adaptations:
Everyone should know this movie. If you don’t then you need to stop reading this and go rent it. RIGHT NOW. I’m serious. Anyway while those of you who have clearly been living under a ROCK are out doing that lol the ones who have seen it can continue reading. Why is this one of the greatest film adaptations of all time? Where do I even begin… For starters Baz Luhrmann is the director and his resume speaks for himself. If you don’t know who Baz Luhrmann is *shakes head*then I am happy you are at least reading this post because he is brilliant and you should really check out his work. He is most notable for what is called “Red Curtain Cinema” which is seen in Romeo and Juliet, Moulin Rouge, and Strictly Ballroom; all three films open with a Red Curtain (similar to if you were at the theater) and allow the audience to understand how the movie will end from the opening sequence. They are made up of the same plot: unlikely couples who fall madly in love, and although all three are completely different movies, they are known as “The Red Curtain Trilogy”.
What makes Romeo and Juliet so magnificent is that while it is a modernization of Shakespeare’s play it still retains the original Shakespearean dialogue. And while you think that might seem so weird, considering everything else appears to be in that current 90’s time except the way they are speaking, it actually isn’t weird at all. I barely even noticed it and thought it would be weird done any other way. The changes made from the original play to the modern film were done so beautifully because they all still went together as if it were the same.
For example: The rival families in the movie were simply just two warring business empires, one run by Montague, the other run by Capulet. This helped bring about understanding to what the families were feuding over (since back in Shakespearean time those feuds were over things we just wouldn’t fight over now).
Also, they couldn’t very well have a sword fight in the middle of a beach and have it make sense, but the guns that took their place were labeled “Dagger” and “Sword”. The fierce competition between the companies was obviously spread down to the younger relatives within each family (just like in the play) only the younger boys are depicted almost as if they are in Gangs.
Another modern aspect of the film was of course when Mercutio has invitations to sneak the Montague Boys into the Capulet party and he gives Romeo Ecstasy. Luckily it was a costume party of course and also holds one of my all time favorite movie scenes: The Fish Tank.
That is where they fall in love at first sight and shortly after discover, how do they put it, “My only love sprung from my only hate”. I am sure you all know the rest even though this movie does a really beautiful twist on the whole thing. From the costume and set design to the casting (I mean Paul Rudd and Jamie Kennedy? So great) to the soundtrack which includes Garbage, The Cardigans, and Radiohead who Baz Luhrmann actually requested to write a song for the film. The band was sent the last 30 minutes and Tom Yorke said “When we saw Claire Daines hold the Colt 45 against her head, we started working on the song immediately”. The title is “Exit Music (For a Film)” and although it wasn’t released on the movie soundtrack (at the bands request) it was later released on Radiohead’s album: “OK Computer”.
Okay moving on to the next (I promise the others won’t be as long):
EVERYONE who is ANYONE knows this movie. It was the first movie we all remember seeing that beautiful Australian actor for the first time. Heath Ledger. Add to the mix the little Joseph Gordon Levitt! Yeah you all know him but he is not so little anymore!!! Julia Stiles was the star girl (which you will see how many much she loved doing these Shakespeare remakes) and Andrew Keeegan if you can remember him at all.
In case you all watched this movie a million times with no idea that is was an adaptation of a Shakespeare play I will help you out right now. Remember reading The Taming of the Shrew? Well, this lovely film was the modern version of that, only minus the Shakespearean dialect and plus tons of teen angst. They’re all in high school, there is one sister who can’t date until the other (Stiles) does, so the popular guy (Keegan) pays the outcast guy (Ledger) to take her out. The plan backfires and Ledger falls for Stiles and Joseph Gordon Levitt gets the other sister. YAY! Of course no one can forget the memorable 10 Things I Hate About You poem at the end *tear*.
Let’s see what else do we have….
Oh yeah! Remember Hamlet? I would hope you do considering that is where I got the title of this post from and it is probably the most well known line from Shakespeare EVER! Okay so here is another great film because similar to Romeo & Juliet, it is set in modern times, but holds true to the Shakespearean dialect. Hamlet is played by Ethan Hawke and Ophelia is played by Julia Stiles (yep there she is again). Hamlet is a film student in New York and his Uncle takes over as CEO of the “Denmark Corporation” by killing their father. Bill Murray and Casey Affleck also make appearances in the film and subtle things are replaced with modernization (ie. instead of carrying actual flowers Ophelia carries around Polaroids of flowers because she is an amateur photographer).
As I said before about Julia Stiles loving these movies….
Here she is again in the modern day version of Othello. Mekhi Phifer plays Odin James (Othello), or OJ, and is star of the basketball team. Stiles plays Desi (Desdemona) the dean’s daughter and Odin’s girlfriend. Hugo (Iago) is the coach’s steroid-addicted son, played by Josh Hartnett, who plants seeds of doubt in OJ’s mind that leads them all to a violent fate. Roderigo is Roger who has a crush on Desi and easily manipulated by Hugo. Andrew Keegan, another Shakespeare fan apparently, is in this film also as Michael Cassio (Cassio) just another basketball player and friend.
This movie is pretty messed up with the plot of convincing Desi’s dad that Odin raped her and slowly taking everyone else down with him so that he can finally have his “day in the spotlight” as he puts it in the voice over in the end. Not a bad movie if I do say so myself, although I am a fan of the original story, Othello is a difficult one to top. It was also intended for release around the time of Columbine so had to be delayed for two years.
These last two I am going to do all together and pretty quickly because in my opinion they aren’t really worth talking too much about haha.
We will start with She’s the Man which was inspired by The Twelfth Night. It stars Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum and centers around the plot of Viola entering her brothers school in his place but falling for Tatum in the process. Viola gets cut from the girls soccer team and the sexist coach will not allow her to play with the boys so she poses as her brother who is in London and not returning to school. Later on she comes clean and is allowed to stay on the team. Yay.
Lastly we have Get Over It loosely based off of A Midsummer Nights Dream Kirsten Dunst plays Kelly (Helena), Mila Kunis, and Shane West plays Striker (Demetrius). Other actors include Ben Foster, Sisqo (I know it’s hilarious), Mila Kunis, Zoe Saldana, and Martin Short.
Thus concludes my post on the modern film adaptations of Shakespeare’s most famous works. I definitely recommend Romeo & Juliet if you haven’t seen it yet. Hamlet and O are on my list of recommendations as well! I think it is safe to say you have all seen 10 Things I Hate About You and as for the others… That brings us back to my title. Obviously it is from Hamlet… But my question is: Do you think that some of these film makers should have butchered Shakespeare by making some of these awful films? I didn’t even include the Disney Channel original movie Motocrossed (another adaptation of The Twelfth Night). So let me know what you think, which movies were done well and respectfully to Shakespeare and which movies, in your opinion, were not.
[Currently Listening to: Talkshow Host by Radiohead]