Movies Based On Shakespeare's Plays

In the spirit of the Yorkshire Playhouse putting on the production of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [revised]” we have compiled a list of movies throughout the years that you may not have known were based off of Shakespeare’s plays.

Movie #1: The 1956 movie “Forbidden Planet” was based on Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest.”

In Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” the characters get stranded on an island, whereas in “Forbidden Planet” the space crew ends up on a seemingly uninhabited planet.  Similarly to “The Tempest” storyline, the daughter falls in love with an outsider despite her father’s objections.  Morbius, played by Walter Pidgeon, covers the part of Prospero, or the father.  He keeps a protective hold over his daughter Alta, played by Anne Francis, who would be Miranda in “The Tempest".

Movie #2: Disney’s famous movie “The Lion King” was based on Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.

It’s crazy to think that one of the most popular Disney movies of all time, “The Lion King”, got it’s premise from “Hamlet” and the biblical stories of Moses and Joseph.  Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two of Hamlet’s friends, are undeniably substitutes for Timon and Pumbaa.  Also, Scar killing his brother Mufasa in order to become king is directly from Hamlet.

Movie #3: The popular teen movie, “10 Things I Hate About You,” was based off of “Taming of the Shrew.”

This one is a lot more literal in it’s presentation.  Katherina is Katherina, Bianca is Bianca, Cameron is Lucentio, and Katherina’s love interest bad boy Patrick (played by Heath Ledger) is Petruchio.  The shrewish older sister Katherina, played by Julia Stiles, needs to start dating so her younger sister Bianca (played by Larisa Olynik) can date Cameron (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt).  Lucentio and Cameron both disguise themselves as tutors to get closer to Bianca.

Movie #4: Another popular teen movie that was based off of a Shakespeare play is “She’s the Man.”  “She’s the Man” is based off of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.”

In both “She’s the Man” and the Twelfth Night” the main character's name is Viola.  Viola, who is played by Amanda Bynes in “She’s the Man”, disguises herself as her brother Sebastian, which also happens in “Twelfth Night".  In “She’s the Man” Viola’s love interest is Duke Orsino, who plays soccer at Illyria, and in Shakespeare’s version he is Duke of Illyria, Orsino.  See how they do the not-so-subtle play on names?

Movie #5: A more recent movie to come out that was based on a Shakespeare play is the zombie love story, “Warm Bodies”, which was based on Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet.”

Star-crossed lovers can’t get any more different backgrounds than a human and zombie falling in love.  “Warm Bodies” hones in on the forbidden love between the human Julie, played by Teresa Palmer, and zombie R, played by Nicholas Hoult.  There is even a balcony scene in the movie that gives a nod to Shakespeare’s original creation.  If you pay close attention to the names, it becomes more obvious that the movie is based on of “Romeo and Juliet”.  For example, even R’s friend, Marcus, in the film sounds a lot like Mercutio in the play.

Movie #6: Another movie that was based on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” is “West Side Story.”

Change out Italy for New York City’s Upper West Side, and the well-off families of Capulet and Montague in exchange for the rival gangs of the Jets and the Sharks, and you’ve got “West Side Story’s” version of “Romeo and Juliet".  “West Side Story” mixes the forbidden love element of “Romeo and Juliet” into a musical that covers issues of race, immigration, and class conflict.  In “West Side Story” Polish-American Tony is Romeo and Puerto Rican Marie is Juliet in this newer adapted version of the centuries old classic.

Movie #7: The 1953 movie “Kiss Me Kate” was based on Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew.”

Another rendition of “Taming of the Shrew” comes from the classic movie “Kiss Me Kate”, created by American song writer and composer Cole Porter, where two main actors' disagreements are jeopardizing the play they are trying to perform which is “The Taming of the Shrew".  People who have seen both may notice the similarities of the two but probably never truly understand how much of Shakespeare’s play was mixed into the film.