If you think Shakespeare is dead, think again! What we mean is, the works of William Shakespeare is so alive and well today, in these modern times, through adaptations. And by adaptations, we mean the movies!
Many of the Bard’s famous plays – be it the tragedies or the comedies – have formidable plot patterns that could be readily adapted into another medium. Add a sprinkle of modernization here and there and what have we got? New Shakespearean plot retellings! An example of that is our featured film here: 10 Things I Hate About You.
The famous 1999 film, starring the unforgettable Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles, essays the roles made popular in The Taming of the Shrew. In that Shakespearean comedy, there’s a challenge of having husbands “tame” brides who are “wild.” While it may sound a bit sexist for today’s modern times, this storyline gets retold with better nuances. And in this teen flick, it gets the modern-day flavor of being set in the world of high school dating rituals.
Imagine the Bard’s treasure trove at the movies! Think you can spot other movies like 10 Things I Hate About You? Here are 10 clues!
1. West Side Story
If there is one ultimate Shakespeare-cloaked film in cinema, it has to be the 1961 film version of the musical play West Side Story. It’s an obvious nod to the classic star-crossed lovers plot in Romeo and Juliet. That’s why it’s here in our list of movies like 10 Things I Hate About You.
Who hasn’t fallen in love with this one? Romeo here is Tony, and Juliet is Maria. Instead of being from two warring families, the characters are from two rival gangs. And being set in New York, the gangs are race-based. Tony is from the white side while Maria is from the Hispanic Puerto Rican side.
The film essays the Romeo and Juliet plotline very well. We could see side characters and scenes that are direct adaptations from the original play. The songs also make it more memorable, and more touching, in a way. Go watch this one if you haven’t yet!
2. She’s The Man
Yet another teen movie gets inspiration from Shakespeare’s treasure trove of tales. This time, the 2006 film She’s The Man is a direct adaptation of the Bard’s comedy entitled Twelfth Night.
The 2006 film is about Viola, a teen soccer player who desperately wants to prove that women should have the right to play soccer. She disguises himself as her twin brother Sebastian, enrolls as him in his new school, and successfully joins the soccer team of that school. That new school will later compete in the soccer tournament with her own school’s soccer team later.
Funny enough, Twelfth Night features twins Viola and Sebastian. She also disguises herself as a man here, so he could work with Duke Orsino, and she later falls in love with him. In the teen film, Viola also falls in love with a fellow soccer player named Duke Orsino! So yeah, it fits in our list of movies like 10 Things I Hate About You, don’t you think? Go watch it again to see these fun parallels!
3. Get Over It
More teen comedy madness comes with a Shakespearean plot! This time, it’s the 2001 film Get Over It starring a lot of popular actors today! There’s Kirsten Dunst, Ben Foster, Zoe Saldana, Mila Kunis, and Carmen Electra, to name a few.
This film is in our list of movies like 10 Things I Hate About You because the plot is based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. That multi-character play features persons who are in love with other people, but the person they are in love with are in love with others as well! So see the comedic tinge in there?
Add to that the humorous take on the play-within-a-play device as written by Shakespeare. The play also has characters discussing and staging a play, within this whole play! The same happens in the film, only this time, the film has a play inside of it! And yes, the roundabout lovers are also there in this very interesting plot! Go watch this teen take on the comedy!
4. Warm Bodies
How about a zombie apocalypse retelling of a Shakespearean plot? Then that’s the 2013 romantic movie called Warm Bodies.
The Bard’s material being retold here is Romeo and Juliet. The star-crossed lovers here are crossed out, alright! The Romeo of the film is R, played by Nicholas Hoult, who’s actually a zombie! And the Juliet here is Julie, played by Teresa Palmer, who’s a human still surviving after this post-zombie apocalyptic narrative.
Crazy, huh! That’s why it’s worth mentioning here in our list of movies like 10 Things I Hate About You. You can really go all-out crazy with your adaptations, or go very deep and philosophical about it. We’re glad to see the humor in this one, even if the original is a tragedy. Go watch it and compare!
5. My Own Private Idaho
Filmmaker Gus Van Sant’s 1991 independent film My Own Private Idaho is a nod to not one, but several Shakespearean tragedies, actually. That’s why it’s fit to be here in our list of movies like 10 Things I Hate About You.
This cult classic stars River Phoenix as a down-and-out street hustler who suffers from narcolepsy. Keanu Reeves co-stars as his friend, also a fellow street hustler, but who turns out to be from an upper-class family. They’re both in their late teens, and their customers are either women or men — or both.
The film is actually a combination of many Shakespearean plots. You can see Henry IV, both Part 1 and Part 2 in it. There’s also some elements of Henry V here. There are actual lines that the characters utter which are Shakespearean lines from these plays. Go watch this and see the comparisons!
6. Prospero’s Books
The 1991 film Prospero’s Books is a retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. However, this filmic adaptation is very creative, visually stunning, and very experimental in nature.
The film stars John Gielgud in the role of Prospero. He is the main protagonist of the film. In Shakespeare’s play, the lead character there is also named Prospero. He is basically a person of magic. By his sorcery, he is able to manipulate certain things that lead to events of his liking.
The main narrative here centers on Prospero’s wrath as his rightful claim to become the Duke of Milan was taken away by his own brother. He then plotted it so that his brother would be shipwrecked and his daughter could succeed in claiming their right to the throne. Watch this film for the sheer visual spectacle that it is! We’re sure Shakespeare would love it. And you’ll see why it belongs here in our list of movies like 10 Things I Hate About You.
7. Forbidden Planet
If you want a Shakespearean sci-fi film, then you should go back in time to see the very creative and innovative film called Forbidden Planet.
The 1956 film is indeed a masterpiece in the early sci-fi film genre. It stars Leslie Nielsen and Anne Francis. Their narrative plotlines here are quite similar to that of The Tempest. That’s why we included it here in our list of movies like 10 Things I Hate About You.
While the story takes place in another planet in the far future, the essentials are basically parallel with the Bard’s play. Instead of a shipwreck, a space expedition is sent to a strange planet. And the other humanistic elements of the Bard are also present here, especially what happens to the two lead characters. Go find this in your vintage trove and watch it!
8. Kiss Me, Kate
The 1953 film version of the successful Broadway musical is another nod to Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Thus, it’s but right that it’s here in our list of movies like 10 Things I Hate About You.
This musical rendition is a cool adaptation since the music was created by the legendary Cole Porter. The film version is directed by George Sidney. The cast includes Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel in the leads.
The story doesn’t stray away from the original Shakespearean plot. It’s about this estranged couple who’s starring in a staging of The Taming of the Shrew. Unfortunately, they play the lead characters, too! But their animosity towards each other is what brings the house down in this double comedy. Go watch it, and sing along with the cool tunes!
9. Lion King
You might think that a classic animation film has no place here in our list of movies like 10 Things I Hate About You. But indeed, it does! Once you discover the Shakespearean plot of Hamlet in here, you’ll agree!
Hamlet is about a prince whose father was murdered. The Lion King is about a young prince of the jungle named Simba whose father, Mufasa, was murdered. Hamlet’s own uncle, his father’s brother, was the murderer. Simba’s uncle, Scar, was the one who murdered his own brother Mufasa. Now, do you see the inspiration?
The filmmakers of this 1994 Disney classic said that many of the film’s storylines were inspired from many sources. But it’s clear how the main storyline here is a direct inspiration from Hamlet’s plot. This is why we included it here in our list of movies like 10 Things I Hate About You, or movies that are cinematically cloaked with Shakespeare’s narratives. Bet ya can’t wait to see it again now, with this new info, huh? Go ahead and indulge!
While we have seen lots of teen comedies do Shakespeare, teen dramas also do it in a good way. Such an example is the 2001 film O, an adaptation of Othello.
The film stars Mekhi Phifer in the role of Odin, a remake of Othello. He’s the person on the spotlight in this narrative. A conniving character, Hugo, is played by Josh Hartnett, who is based on the cunning Iago. Meanwhile, the lady of the play is Desdemona, and the teen film version of her is Desi, played by Julia Stiles.
The whole shebang of a Shakespearean drama is also present in this teen-focused film. There’s jealousy and rage, there’s plotting against people and manipulating your way through life. It’s interesting to see how they pulled it off here. See how this fits in our lineup of movies like 10 Things I Hate About You.