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What are you watching for Shakespeare Day?

by David W | Apr 21, 2016
Editor's Note:  Originally posted April 23, 2015.  Movie recommendations in verse.  Shakespeare would be proud!

April 23rd is Shakespeare Day, the day when all of the fans of literature the world over celebrate the man who brought us so many archetypal and memorable characters and stories that we are still performing, studying, and enjoying them nearly 400 years after his death.  In order to celebrate the Bard my own way, I’ve decided to recommend a few interesting adaptations of his plays into the world of film.  However, a simple article would not suffice to honor this man, so what I bring are several movie recommendations in verse!  Hopefully you’ve brushed up on your pentameter because it’s about to get iambic up in here.  Without further ado, a few choice film adaptations of Shakespeare:

Much Ado About Nothing
 
 

While Whedon’s name gets thrown around most oft

When speaking of Avengers and the like,

He used that film’s success to float aloft

His passion projects; This film quite unlike

his many sci-fi works is rather plain,

occurring at his richly furnished manse.

Chromatic’ly, it features only ane,

Which lends a classic air to the romance.

With script well crafted by The Bard’s own hand.

It lends itself to modern film quite well,

This prototype for RomCom hijinks, and

A cast which quickly charms you with its spell.

Alexis Denisof plays Benedick,

Whose face from Angel you may recognize,

And Amy Acker stars as Beatrice,

Another Joss alum; what a surprise!

The physicality here really shines,

And laughs are more abundant than you’d think.

Except for several slightly altered lines,

The dialogue stays true to Shakespeare’s ink.

If William’s work has left you once bemused,

Try this; I bet you’ll find yourself amused!

 
 tromeojulietposter  
 

For those who fancy shlock, I give to you

The strangest adaptation through and through.

Lloyd Kaufman and his Troma troop regale

The audience with content to assail

The sense of decency.  But in this mess

of bovine beasts and punk rock tone of dress

There’s something purely Shakespeare in a way.

The Bard was quite a rock star in his day,

Performing not in front of royal chairs

But in the streets where peasants baited bears.

His plays, although they featured priests and kings,

Were bloody, bawdy, really ribald things.

This film seeks to offend, but in good fun,

And manages to gross out everyone.

The writer’s name be damned? A fallacy!

He just helmed Guardians of the Galaxy!

The screenplay earned him merely fifteen tens,

But I would say he made out in the end.

If in the mood to cringe and shake your head,

Say to this star-crossed film, “I do thee wed.”

 
 The Lion King  
 

Though Hamlet sounds like it refers to Babe,

To Simba’s story it donates its plot.

As murd’rous uncle takes his unearned throne,

The rightful prince absconds o’er grassy wabe,

And finds comfort in Hakuna Matat-a

Adage of friends Pumbaa and Timon,

Not he of Athens, merely meerkat here

And warthog; Guildenstern and Rosencrantz

To guide our hero out of his despair.

Though Disneyfied, some scenes are flush with fear

Like goosestepping hyenas’ song and dance,

But Simba’s madness never comes to bear,

Nor Nala follow in Ophelia’s fate.

One excised song links Scar to Claudius

Who aims to claim his brother’s wife as well.

Now Simba swoops in to reclaim his state

More regal now than young and haughty cuss,

More hero than his tragic parallel.

If you think Shakespeare needed a baboon,

Then grab your kids and watch this great cartoon!

 
 ran  
 

To some, it’s Kurosawa’s masterpiece,

Adapted from the tragedy King Leer.

A royal tale where squabbles never cease,

Between backstabbing brothers; Father dear

Divides his kingdom, but does not foresee

The ruthless countenance within each son

That he has bred through ruling cruelly,

The method same by which his power won.

The warlord’s makeup serves to underline

That he displays Noh softer tendency.

In chaos, man lets go of the divine

Succumbing to the clouds of lunacy.

Whilst stronger is the arrow three-in-one,

With time all plans of men are come undone.

 

Have I evoked any of those high school classroom headaches?  Be that as it may, if you’ve read this far it means I’ve successfully gotten you to read a sonnet on Shakespeare Day.  If you don’t wish to read any verse until next year, I completely understand.

What’s your favorite film adaptation of a Shakespeare play?  Are there any movies you loved that unknowingly turned out to be derived from Shakespeare?  Let us know in the comments below!  As always, if you enjoyed the read, please share this with your friends.




davidDavid loves all sorts of film and music with a soft spot for schlocky B-horror movies, anything with Patrick Swayze, and preposterous concept albums. He adores James Joyce and Virginia Wolfe foremost, but has plenty of Neil Gaiman, Seamus Heaney, and Stephen Jay Gould on his bookshelf as well. Feel free to get in touch with him if you want to argue the merits of why The Fountain should be better regarded among Aronofsky's works or which of The Lord Weird Slough Feg's albums is the best.

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