Since the birth of film, there has been Shakespeare. While translating his plays into film may have been the high water mark of many careers such as Lord Laurence Olivier and Sir Kenneth Branagh, other actors and directors have felt the urge to interpret The Bard. Most recently, Michael Fassbender, along with Marion Cotillard starred in the 2015 version of Macbeth and Joss Whedon, the writer and director of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Avengers, used his vacation time between films to shoot a simple updated version of “Much Ado About Nothing”.
Other films though have taken the gist of a Shakespearen play and completely transformed it to a new setting, in frequently strange and wonderful ways. Disney’s “The Lion King” owes much of its substance to Hamlet, and the teen comedy “Ten Things I Hate About You” is really The Taming of the Shrew. The Japanese shogun movie “Ran” that would inspire Star Wars, was itself inspired by King Lear, and the science fiction classic “Forbidden Planet”, which would be the catalyst much of the science fiction television and novels of the 1960’s and 1970’s, was really “The Tempest.”
Any film site on the internet lists great and not so great attempts at adapting Shakespeare and there are always more coming. Sean Bean is set to star as the title character in Caesar, (which does prove he dies in everything); and Rosaline which is based on Rebecca Serle YA novel called When You Were Mine, used Romeo and Juliet as it’s heart. IMDB or the International Movie Data Base lists 1140 versions of Shakespeare’s work on film or television, with another 19 new works on the horizon as of March this year.
Of course, Romeo and Juliet as garden gnomes is a bit much, even for my taste.