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We take a look at the top 10 greatest Shakespeare movies. I think we all remember our first encounter with Shakespeare was in the classroom, endlessly combing over lines the teacher asking for ‘the hidden meaning’ and us all trying to think what we can use for our end of term essay.
For us all help comes in great film directors that can take the story and create something that we understand and can quickly take in. Some of the greatest actors of all time have appeared in Shakespeare’s plays in film, many adapted.
Greatest Shakespeare Movies
Love’s Labour’s Lost (2000)
Love’s Labour’s Lost is a 2000 reworking of the comic play name by William Shakespeare, directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh. The first feature film to be made of this lesser-known comedy. Sadly, Branagh’s fourth film of a Shakespeare play was met with box-office and critical displeasure.
The film turns Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost into a romantic (Hollywood) musical. With a set and costume design which evokes Europe 1939. Timothy Spall, Richard Briers and Geraldine McEwan all Shakespearean veterans star together with Hollywood actors Alicia Silverstone and Matthew Lillard and Broadway and West End star Nathan Lane.
Music by Patrick Doyle, Cinematography Alex Thomson and Edited by Neil Farrell.
Top 10 Greatest Shakespeare Movies – The films budget was $13 million and had a Box office take of $299,792.
Much Ado About Nothing (2012)
Much Ado About Nothing is a 2012 black and white American romantic comedy film adapted for the screen, produced, and directed by Joss Whedon, from William Shakespeare’s play of the same name. The film stars Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, Reed Diamond, Fran Kranz, Sean Maher, and Jillian Morgese.
The film premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival and had its North American theatrical release on June 21, 2013.
Music by Joss Whedon, Cinematography Jay Hunter, Edited by Daniel Kaminsky and Joss Whedon.
Top 10 Greatest Shakespeare Movies – The films budget was kept a closely guarded secret as Whedon covered most of it himself, it’s estimated at $500,000 and had a Box Office take of $5.3 million.
Henry V (1944)
You’ve got to have one Laurence Olivier in any Shakespeare list, so it’s this grand, experimental take on Henry V.
Henry V is a 1944 British Technicolor film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play of the same name. The on-screen title is The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France. It stars the great Laurence Olivier, who also directed it. The play was adapted for the screen by Olivier, Dallas Bower, and Alan Dent.
The Film also started Renée Asherson, Robert Newton, and Leslie Banks. Music by William Walton, Cinematography Jack Hildyard and Robert Krasker, Edited by Reginald Beck.
The film begins as a recreation of a stage production of the play in The Globe, then gradually turns into a stylised cinematic rendition of the play, with sets reminiscent of a medieval Book of Hours.
Top 10 Greatest Shakespeare Movies – The films budget was set at £350,000 but hit £475,708 (or $2 million) with a Box office take of over $2 million.
West Side Story (1961)
West Side Story is a 1961 American romantic musical tragedy film directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins.
The film is an adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name, in turn inspired by Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet.
Released on October 18, 1961, through United Artists, the film received high acclaim from critics and viewers, and became the second highest grossing film of the year in the USA. Nominated for 11 Academy Awards, winning 10, including Best Picture, and becoming record holder for most wins for a movie musical.
The film has been deemed “culturally significant” by the United States Library of Congress and was selected for the National Film Registry in 1997.
Starring Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Rita Moreno, George Chakiris and Russ Tamblyn. Music by Leonard Bernstein and Irwin Kostal, Cinematography Daniel L. Fapp, A.S.C. and Edited by Thomas Stanford.
Top 10 Greatest Shakespeare Movies – The films budget was $6 million and took $44.1 million at the Box office.
Throne Of Blood (1957)
Throne of Blood is a 1957 Japanese samurai film co-written and directed by Akira Kurosawa. The film plays with the plot of William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth from Medieval Scotland to feudal Japan, with stylistic elements drawn from Noh drama. The film stars Toshiro Mifune (Macbeth) and Isuzu Yamada (Lady Macbeth) in the lead roles.
As with the play, the film tells the story of a warrior who assassinates his sovereign at the urging of his striving wife. Kurosawa was a fan of the play and intended to make his own adaptation for several years, delaying it after learning of Orson Welles’ Macbeth (1948). Among his changes was the ending, which required archers to fire arrows around Mifune. The film was shot around Mount Fuji and Izu Peninsula. There’s no other Macbeth adaptation that captures the play’s creeping doom.
William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet (1996)
William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (shortened to Romeo + Juliet) is a 1996 American romantic crime film directed, co-produced, and co-written by Baz Luhrmann, co-produced by Gabriella Martinelli, and co-written by Craig Pearce, being an adaptation and modernization of William Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo and Juliet.
The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in the leading roles of Romeo and Juliet, who instantly fall in love when Romeo crashes a party and meets her, despite being members of feuding families. Brian Dennehy, John Leguizamo, Pete Postlethwaite, Paul Sorvino, and Diane Venora star in supporting roles. And the soundtrack is killer too.
Music by Nellee Hooper, Marius de Vries and Craig Armstrong, Cinematography Donald M. McAlpine, Edited by Jill Bilcock.
Top 10 Greatest Shakespeare Movies – The film budget was $14.5 million and took $147.5 million at the Box office.
Much Ado About Nothing (1993)
Much Ado About Nothing is a 1993 British/American romantic comedy film based on Shakespeare’s play. Adapted for the screen (directed by) Kenneth Branagh, who also stars in the film. The film also stars Branagh’s then-wife Emma Thompson, Robert Sean Leonard, Denzel Washington, Michael Keaton, Keanu Reeves, and Kate Beckinsale in her film debut.
The film was released in May 1993. Earning $22 million at the U.S. box office and $36 million total worldwide, which, despite failing to reach the mark set by Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet, made it one of the most financially successful Shakespeare films ever released.
Much Ado About Nothing was filmed entirely at Villa Vignamaggio, Greve in Chianti, Florence. Tuscany, Italy.
Music by Patrick Doyle, Cinematography Roger Lanser and Edited by Andrew Marcus.
10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
10 Things I Hate About You is a 1999 American teen romantic comedy-drama film directed by Gil Junger and starring Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Larisa Oleynik.
The screenplay, written by Karen McCullah and Kirsten Smith, is a loose modernization of William Shakespeare’s late-16th century comedy The Taming of the Shrew, retold in a late-1990s American high school setting.
In the story, new student Cameron (Gordon-Levitt) is besotted with Bianca Stratford (Oleynik) and, in order to get around her father’s stringent rules on dating, efforts to get bad boy Patrick (Ledger) to date Bianca’s ill-tempered sister, Kat Stratford (Stiles). The film is titled after a poem written by Kat about her poignant romance with Patrick. Much of the filming took place in the Seattle metropolitan area, with many scenes shot at Stadium High School in Tacoma.
Music by Richard Gibbs, Cinematography Mark Irwin, and Edited by O. Nicholas Brown.
Top 10 Greatest Shakespeare Movies – The budget for 10 Things I Hate About You was $16 million, with a Box office take of $53.5 million.
A British film adaptation (2011) of William Shakespeare’s tragedy Coriolanus, written by John Logan and directed by and starring Ralph Fiennes who plays the titular character. This is Fiennes’ directorial debut.
Starring Gerard Butler as Tullus Aufidius, Lubna Azabal as Tamora and Ashraf Barhom as Cassius. Although the film is not open about its contemporary Eastern European setting, a title card states the film is set in “A Place Calling Itself Rome”. Coriolanus was filmed in Serbia, Montenegro and the UK.
Music by Ilan Eshkeri, Cinematography Barry Ackroyd, and Edited by Nicolas Gaster.
Top 10 Greatest Shakespeare Movies – The film had a budget of $7.7 million with a Box office take of $1,072,602.
Hamlet is a 1996 film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play, adapted and directed by Kenneth Branagh, who also stars as Prince Hamlet.
The film stars Derek Jacobi as King Claudius, Julie Christie as Queen Gertrude, Kate Winslet as Ophelia, Michael Maloney as Laertes, Richard Briers as Polonius, and Nicholas Farrell as Horatio. Other cast members include Robin Williams, Gérard Depardieu, Jack Lemmon, Billy Crystal, Rufus Sewell, Charlton Heston, Richard Attenborough, Judi Dench, John Gielgud and Ken Dodd.
The film received four Academy Award nominations for the 69th Academy Awards for Best Art Direction (Tim Harvey), Best Costume Design (Alexandra Byrne), Best Original Score (Patrick Doyle), and Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) (Kenneth Branagh).
Hamlet has been regarded as one of the best Shakespeare film adaptations. With a hefty budget of $18 million and a star studded cast, it was disappointing that the film only had a Box office take of $4.7 million.
Take a look at what’s on at Blackpool Grand Theatre this Autumn / Winter 20/21
Blackpool Grand set out a COVID-Community Communication Programme (CCCP) during the Coronavirus pandemic. Our aims were simple, to CONNECT, COMFORT and UPLIFT. We would Connect people by offering tutorials on communication tools like Zoom and conduct community face-to-face meetings (book readings, youth groups and more). Comfort through stories of heritage, memories and storytelling, and to Uplift visitors spirits through laughter and exercise. Please do enjoy and if you can afford to donate please do.
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Government’s Culture Recovery Fund – Blackpool Grand awarded £491,000
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