Our Favorite Shakespearian Adaptations

Hailee Steinfeld, Douglas BoothWe’re super excited for the brand-new Romeo and Juliet adaptation out this week! There have been tons of versions of this classic tragedy, but it’s always cool to see what a new set of actors can do with their roles.

Shakespeare’s plays are awesome enough in their own right, but they’ve also given us tons of great adaptations. These fantastic movies take Shakespeare’s classic tragedies, comedies, and romances and put their own twists on them. Which of these Shakespearian adaptations do you love the most? Check out our picks now and vote below!

Leonardo Dicaprio, Claire Danes, Baz LuhrmannRomeo + Juliet

This version of Romeo and Juliet asks the question that everyone’s been wondering: What would happen if the Capulets and the Montagues had guns and muscle cars? In all seriousness, Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation is totally original. Plus, did we mention that we love us some early Leonardo DiCaprio?



Heath Ledger Julia Stiles Kat Patrick10 Things I Hate About You

This modern-day adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew is a cult classic, and for good reason. The relationship between Kat and Patrick is the perfect mix of Shakespearian wit and high-school drama. We can watch them snark at each other and slowly fall in love over and over.



Amanda Bynes, Channing TatumShe’s the Man

She’s the Man has it all: insane love triangles, hilarious cases of mistaken identity, a tarantula named Malvolio, and Channing Tatum. Sure, it might be only be (really) loosely based on Twelfth Night, but it’s still a fun movie. The only question remaining is how anyone could ever mistake Amanda Bynes for a dude.



Joseph Fiennes, Gwyneth PaltrowShakespeare in Love

While this movie isn’t strictly based on a single play, it has lots of fun in-jokes for Shakespeare lovers. It’s super exciting to pick out the lines from Hamlet and Twelfth Night (or at least it is for us literary nerds). Plus, the romance between Shakespeare and Viola makes us wish this were a true story.



DisneyThe Lion King

One of our very favorite Disney films is also loosely inspired by Hamlet! Simba’s Hamlet, Scar is Claudius, Nahla’s Ophelia, and Timon and Pumbaa are, of course, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Our minds are blown. We can never watch this movie the same way again.



Joss Whedon, Alexis DenisofMuch Ado About Nothing

This movie’s got an awesome cast, beautiful cinematography, and a script that’s true to the original while bringing a new perspective to the classic tale. Also: Joss Whedon plus William Shakespeare. What more could you ask for? It’s a dream team we didn’t even know existed!



Which of these adaptations does the most with its source material? Vote now! Which versions did we leave out? Let us know in the comments!

20 thoughts on “Our Favorite Shakespearian Adaptations

  1. Henry V, directed by Kenneth Branagh. HANDS DOWN MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE SHAKESPEARE MOVIE ADAPTATION. Probably because it kept it so close to the original source material. And it was genius.

    And also… dare I mention David Tennant and Patrick Stewart in Hamlet? *happy sigh* Also a big favorite.

    • What about the Hollow Crown series? My favorite films in the series were Richard II and Henry V. It had Ben Wishaw, Jeremy Irons and Tom Hiddleston. It was fantastic. Why how could they leave out Henry V. Kenneth Branagh or Tom Hiddleston, you can’t go wrong with Henry V.

  2. I’d say Lion King 2 is way more of a Romeo Juliet thing than the first Lion King (though it will always be my favorite movie of all time)

  3. How am I supposed to decide?! Such great movies. Had to go with good ol’ Leo DiCaprio, in the end. Can’t beat that. Then again, Lion King, Much Ado, Shakespeare in Love… Ugh, decisions.

  4. West Side Story wins hands-down!
    Also the best original text adaptation of Shakespeare will always be the 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet. Always.

  5. And you forgot Falling for Hamlet! I suppose it’s not really huge, but my teacher wrote it and it’s your basic modern retelling of Hamlet.

  6. The Baz Lurhmann version was terrible! I get so annoyed watching that. They ruined Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare in Love is so good though.

  7. I think it’s a dangerous book and it demonstrates the perils of one-sided, unconditional love. But even though I hate it I found myself wishing that Timon of Athens could have been a little more like that maligned tree.

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