It’s Shakespeare’s birthday! Try to talk like Shakespeare. Or check out Turner Classic Movie Channel’s list of their favorite Shakespeare adaptations. Can you name three movies inspired by Shakespeare set in high school? Two that became Broadway musicals? Or one set in outer space?
All of Shakespeare’s plays have been filmed, many more than once. Some of my favorites are:
1. Twelfth Night A shipwreck survivor disguises herself as a man and gets involved in many mix-ups as she finds herself falling for her boss and being fallen for by the woman he has asked her to woo on his behalf.
2. A Midsummer Night’s Dream An all-star cast appears in Shakespeare’s merriest romantic comedy, with the entanglements of three romantic couples and a little fairy dust.
3. The Taming of the Shrew Famously bombastic couple Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor play famously bombastic couple Petruchio and Kate in this raucous battle of the sexes. It is not only the shrew who is tamed.
4. Henry V Kenneth Branaugh’s fierce version of one of Shakespeare’s most thrillingly heroic stories is brilliantly done — and a lot of fun to compare with Laurence Olivier’s very different WWII-era version.
4. Hamlet Mel Gibson stars in one of several great versions of the play about the conflicted Danish prince.
6. The Merchant of Venice Al Pacino plays Shylock in the story of a money-lender driven to revenge by the defection of his daughter. Lynn Collins is luminous as the heroine Portia.
7. As You Like It Another woman-disguised-as-a-man story and another lovers-in-the-forest story — but this time transplanted by the film-makers to Japan in a very colorful production with a radiant Bryce Dallas Howard as Rosalind.
8. Macbeth Orson Welles’ version of the Scottish play is arresting and provocative.
9. The Tempest I’m still waiting for a worthy version of my favorite Shakespeare play, but until that happens, this version of the story of the shipwreck survivors on an island with a sorcerer and his daughter is worth seeing.
10. Shakespeare in Love This multi-award winner makes no pretense of historical accuracy but it is wise, exciting, and ravishingly romantic.