Known as the Bard (or Billy Wobbledagger, for those who love their cheese), William Shakespeare has long been regarded one of the greatest writers in the English language. Children the world over have studied his plays and filmmakers have cut, copied and pasted his stories into endless adaptations for the screen.
With the latest adaptation of Macbeth coming to your screens as one of your Sunday night movie choices on 26 February, we thought we’d take a look ten movies inspired by Shakespeare’s work.
- Romeo and Juliet (1996)
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in the title roles, this modernisation by Baz Luhrmann brings style, edge and a killer soundtrack to the story of the star-crossed lovers.
Watch Claire Danes all grown up and paranoid in the sixth season of Homeland Express from the U.S. every Tuesday at 02:00 and in prime time at 20:00 on M-Net Edge.
- 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
If you could never quite wrap your mind around Shakespeare’s English, then you can enjoy the wit of his comedy without the archaic language in this modernisation of The Taming of the Shrew. The cast sizzle in their roles, particularly Allison Janney as the sassy Ms. Perky and the late Heath Ledger in his Hollywood breakout role.
Watch Alisson Janney find another kind of funny in the fourth season of Mom every Tuesday at 18:00 on M-Net.
- Hamlet (1996)
Kenneth Branagh is undoubtedly the biggest Bard fan in Hollywood. He has directed and starred in several cinematic adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays, including Hamlet. Taking on the titular role of the Danish prince, Branagh (who is also on directing and screenwriting duties) transplants the tragedy to the 19th century, but retains every single word of the original dialogue.
- Macbeth (2015)
Long before it was unfathomable to mention the name of Voldemort, it was (and remains) a big no-no to speak the name of the Scottish play. Full of “bloody daggers” and lacking the “milk of human kindness”, this grim yet glorious adaptation casts Michael Fassbender in the title role, with Marion Cotillard playing his wife.
Watch Macbeth, your Sunday night movie on 26 February at 21:00 on M-Net Edge.
- Much Ado About Nothing (1993)
One of Shakespeare’s wittiest comedies, Branagh stays true to form and spirit. Placing himself yet again behind pen and camera as writer and director, he also steals the show with Emma Thompson as the warring lovers, Benedick and Beatrice.
- Much Ado About Nothing (2012)
From the man who brought you Buffy and The Avengers, comes this stunning black-and-white adaptation. With original dialogue intact, but placed in a modern setting, the cast features Joss Whedon regulars Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Nathan Fillion and Clark Gregg.
- Shakespeare in Love (1998)
It’s not based on a Shakespeare play, but rather on the man himself. Revolving around the writing and production of Romeo and Juliet, the movie won Judi Dench her first Oscar, for playing Queen Elizabeth I. In her acceptance speech she modestly stated “I feel for eight minutes on the screen I should only get a little bit of him,” but she was so undeniably brilliant in those eight minutes, she totally deserved it.
- The Tempest (2010)
In Shakespeare’s day, young males had to play the female characters. In 2010, the concept was turned on its head when Helen Mirren was cast in the traditionally male role of Prospero. Renaming the character Prospera, the talented dame is supported by an incredible cast that includes Russell Brand, Djimon Hounsou, Felicity Jones, Alfred Molina, and Ben Whishaw.
Watch Ben Wishaw as the newest Q on the James Bond pop-up channel.
- Titus (1999)
Shakespeare loved revenge stories and they don’t get any grislier than this adaptation. With Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange in the lead roles, it’s vividly told and visually powerful, directed by Julie Taymor in her feature film debut.
- Throne of Blood (1957)
If you can change era and gender, you can change location. Based on Macbeth, the action and ambition of Shakespeare’s great tragedy is moved to Japan. A stylistic and intense adaptation, it’s helmed by the acclaimed Japanese director Akira Kurosawa.
Shakespeare not thy thing? We have two other Sunday night movies for you to choose from.
On M-Net 101 at 20:05, Aaron Eckhart and Morgan Freeman rule the White House in London Has Fallen.
On M-Net Movies Premiere at 20:30, Hugh Jackman drops his adamantium claws for the inspirational sports drama Eddie the Eagle.
What will you be watching? Share your choice on social media using #SundayNightMovie.