10 best Shakespeare movie adaptations

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Although William Shakespeare formed the basis of much of what we consider modern English and created a theater of poetry and intellectual insight still unmatched today, it is difficult to translate his particular magic into cinema. . Whether it’s because something is lost of the elemental energy that exists between the live actors and the audience or the film comes with some expected aesthetic considerations that just don’t fit the bard’s language is debated. but the cinematographic adaptations of his works which work are few. and far in between. Fortunately, there are a few filmmakers who have been able to capture what makes the plays so special, and below we list 10 of Shakespeare’s best adaptations.


ten Ran (1985)


In this adaptation of King Lear, Tatsuya Nakadai plays the old Lord Hidetora Ichimonji, a ruler who chooses to abdicate his throne and divide his land between his three sons, plunging his country into a war that ends up consuming his reason and his life.

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Run (which translates to “chaos” or “turmoil”) is Akira Kurosawa’s end-of-life masterpiece and is frequently featured among the greatest films ever made. A family drama that unfolds on a large scale, Run is a visually stunning and heartbreaking epic of human cruelty with few rivals in cinema.

9 My Own Private Idaho (1991)


Loose adaptation in the extreme of Gus Van Sant’s Henry IV stars River Phoenix as a gay sex worker with narcolepsy. When he crosses paths with the son of a rebel politician (Keanu Reeves), the two hit the road, traveling from Portland to Idaho to Italy on a journey of tricks and self-discovery. The two stars are at their peak, and Van Sant’s remix of Bard’s poetry makes for a lavish and sexy road movie that’s as thoughtful as it is fresh.

8 Hamlet (1996)


In an act of extreme madness or genius, depending on your perspective, Kenneth Branagh directed and starred in this screen treatment of Hamlet which featured Shakespeare’s completely unabridged script. The resulting 242-minute opus will test the patience of even the most die-hard purists, but it features a cast of some of the best talent ever assembled for a project, including Derek Jacobi, Julie Christie, Charlton Heston. , Judi Dench, Gérard Depardieu, John Gielgud and a young Kate Winslet.

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While Branagh might not be reinventing the wheel as a director, you have to admire his ambition, and Hamlet is far more touching and watchable than a four-hour speech-a-thon is allowed to be. .

7 Romeo and Juliet (1968)


Although there is a lot to like about the modern and wacky version of Baz Luhrmann Romeo and Juliet, the interpretation of the time by the late Franco Zeffirelli is the most faithful to the heart of history. Starring a handsome boy group Leonard Whiting and then 15-year-old Olivia Hussey as the titular Cursed Lovers, this Italian production remains Shakespeare’s last film to date nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.

6 Titus (1999)


Before she was declared some sort of persona-non-grata for her catastrophic work on Spider-Man: Put Out The Dark, Julie Taymor lived up to the notoriety and prestige of her visionary staging of Disney’s The Lion King and directed this equally inventive film by Titus Andronicus, one of Shakespeare’s meanest and least beloved works.

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An epic tragedy filled with gruesome violence and caustic humor, Taymor chose Anthony Hopkins as the titular Roman general and Jessica Lange as the barbarian queen who opposes him. While Taymor could be accused of over-styling and over-complicating the piece, Titus feels like Caligula meets Hellraiser and unlike any other film adaptation of Shakespeare.

5 Midnight Chimes (1966)


Orson Welles was no slouch when it came to Shakespeare, but Midnight chimes is easily her finest hour with the bard, made at the peak of her creative powers.

When Henry IV (John Gielgud) seizes the throne of England, he starts the War of the Roses and clashes with the rebel Hotspur (Norman Rodway) and his forces. Her heir, Prince Hal (Keith Baxter) is a slacker and womanizer who prefers to party with his ruling street kid friends, the most influential of whom is his father figure, Falstaff (Welles).

sprawling, elegiac and seductive, Midnight chimes is easily one of Shakespeare’s greatest adaptations in any medium.

4 Much Ado About Nothing (2012)


To some, Kenneth Branagh’s still-famous Tuscan version of one of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies is the adaptation of choice, but Joss Whedon’s charming and relaxed populist take reminds us of something we often forget: Shakespeare is for everyone.

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Filmed in his own home with a stable of actors from all his projects and sparked off by his own wine-soaked readings that he would host with them, Whedon’s A lot of noise won’t win the hearts of those who treat the iambic pentameter with its verses, beats, stressed and unstressed syllables like gospel, but it is a charming and heartfelt treatment of the material that brings poetry back to the average viewer.

3 Macbeth (2015)


The most recent film adaptation to Stick Landing, this Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard directed the tale of Macbeth is just faithful enough to the source material without sacrificing its own visual poetry. Justin Kurzel’s film is greatly aided by Fassbender, whose performance easily joins the ranks of Shakespeare’s greatest cinematic performances.

2 Throne of Blood (1957)


A film a little less than its masterful Run, Kurosawa’s first turn with the bard is always a wonderfully sullen and effective play. Starring screen icon Toshirô Mifune as an upstart samurai named Washizu who after a spirit foretells that his future is being pushed by his power-hungry wife, Asaji (Isuzu Yamada) to commit murder, Kurosawa masterfully transplants the Macbeth history in feudal Japan for this dark epic.

1 Coriolanus (2011)


Based on one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known works, Ralph Fiennes’s debut film is an yet underrated update of material that is striking and relevant to today’s headlines.

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Fiennes plays Caius Martius (aka Coriolanus), a haughty and brutal Roman general who finds himself pushed by his mother (Vanessa Redgrave) to campaign for a consul post. Badly brought up and unfit for public office, he started a riot which had him expelled from Rome. Full of rage, Coriolanus tracks down his greatest foe Tullus Aufidius (Gerard Butler) and enlists him to help him destroy the city he once served.

Powerful and endowed with a deep cultural resonance for modern audiences, Fiennes’s film Coriolanus is a must.


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