Who doesn't love the plays of William Shakespeare? A poet, playwright and actor, Shakespeare is widely regarded as the best English language writer and one of the world's finest dramatists. His works, which include 38 plays and 154 sonnets, have been translated into every living language and they are performed moreso than any other playwright living or dead.
During his lifetime (1564-1616) the man was not quite as revered as he is today, but he received a tremendous amount of critical praise. The cleric and author Francis Meres singled him out from a group of English writers as "the most excellent" in both comedy and tragedy. It is not known when Shakespeare started writing, or even if the works contributed to him are actually his, but it is believed that his first play was Henry VI Part One.
I first heard of Shakespeare much like most other children do, through English class in elementary school. Throughout my education I have been exposed to the great English writer's work, the first play I read being Hamlet. I suppose, because he is mandatory curriculum, it is easy for one to become desensitized to the genius that is Shakespeare. As a child you may find him a bore, but as an adult I absolutely adore his work.
As a result of North America's fascination with this writer we have hundreds of films dedicated to his every word. Richard III (1912) is the first surviving feature length silent film, whereas the first silent short adaptation was King John in 1899. When sound was introduced it took a while for Hollywood to make another adaptation, but when they did they blew all others out of the water. Laurence Olivier's Hamlet (1948) is largely considered the greatest adaptation by many film critics.
The following are my ten favourite Shakespeare adaptations. They may not be objectively "the best" but they're a damn sight better than Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet farce.
10. Forbidden Planet (1956)
|A weird sci-fi Shakespeare adaptation|
9. West Side Story (1961)
|Romeo and Juliet in the form of dancing|
8. Caesar Must Die (2012)
|Inmates in a high security prison perform Julius Caesar|
7. Richard III (1955)
|Sir Laurence Olivier plays an evil hunchback very well|
6. Macbeth (1971)
|Directed by Polanski, right after the Sharon Tate murder. Appropriately violent|
5. Hamlet (1948)
|Sir Laurence Olivier at his best!|
4. Ran (1985)
|Akira Kurosawa actually burned down that house. No CGI necessary!|
3. Richard III (1995)
|Richard III set in WWII|
2. Chimes at Midnight (1965)
|Orson Welles and Shakespeare is a perfect mix|
1. Throne of Blood (1957)
|As epic as it is haunting. Those are real arrows being shot at Mifune!|