How has Shakespeare inspired movies?


           Thousands of films have taken inspiration from Shakespeare. Akira Kurosawa, renowned Japanese filmmaker, directed Throne of Blood, which is an adaptation of Macbeth. His Ran, directed in 1985, is inspired by King Lear. My Own Private Idaho, by Gus Van Sant, is influenced by Shakespeare’s Henry IV. Laurence Olivier is probably the most famous filmmaker and actor who have successfully adapted Shakespeare’s play. His Henry V, Hamlet and Richard III are popular films.

           Shakespeare has wielded his influence in India too. Vishal Bharadwaj’s Omkara, Maqbool and Haider have been both popular and critical successes. Jayaraj’s Kannaki, Kaliyattam and Veeram are popular Shakespeare adaptations from Kerala.

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Have Shakespeare’s plays been adapted?


      Shakespeare has been a perennial inspiration for writer for centuries. Innumerable novels, stories and films have been born out of Shakespearean literature. Many films that you have watched may have unacknowledged, uncanny similarities with Shakespearean plots.

      Many of Shakespeare’s plays have been written as short stories and novels without changing their names. Many modern novels are inspired by him. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville is said to be inspired by Macbeth and King Lear.

      Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World has its roots in The Tempest. The same play is the inspiration for Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed. E. K Johnston’s Exit, Pursued by a Bear is inspired by the famous line from Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale.

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The Two Gentlemen of Verona by William Shakespeare

      Some scholars think that The Two Gentlemen of Verona is Shakespeare’s first play; and therefore, it is not as promising as his later plays.

      The play is centred on the love, perseverance and determination of a young girl named Julia who went to extremes to win over her love. Valentine and Proteus were close friends. Valentine set out on a journey and Proteus did not follow him because he had fallen in love with Julia. However, when Proteus went to meet Valentine, he met Valentine’s lover Silvia and fell in love with her at first sight.

      He forgot about Julia completely. Now, the play takes the viewer through many events, in which adventure, luck and velour become prominent themes. Julia, in order to win back Proteus, disguised herself as a man and followed him around. Finally, Proteus, realizing his mistakes, apologized to Valentine and everything ended on a happy note.

      One of the most controversial episodes in Shakespearean plays appears in this play. Convinced of Proteus’ repentance, Valentine appears to hand his love, Silvia, to Proteus.

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Love’s Labour’s Lost by William Shakespeare

      What would happen if someone decides that he would have nothing to do with women and no women would be allowed within one mile of his home? Love’s Labour’s Lost, one of Shakespeare’s early comedies, has misogyny as its central theme.

      Ferdinand, the King of Navarre, and his friends decided that women were not allowed inside their palace for three years, because they wanted to devote their time and energy to learning and research. However, their plans were thwarted when the Princess of France and her ladies arrived for a diplomatic mission to the Court. The Princess, insulted without an entry to the palace, camped outside the court. In the events that ensued, the King fell in love with the beautiful princess and his friends with other women. They eventually relinquished the vow and realized that the ultimate knowledge was the knowledge of love and understanding.

      As the play ends, the marriages are planned and they would take place in a year’s time.

      This is one of Shakespeare’s original plays. Scholars opine that he has not consulted sources that he used for his other plays. Abounding in sophisticated wordplay, the play contains lines such as: ‘Love is a familiar; love is a devil. There is no evil angel but love’.

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Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare

      Some scholars have categorized some of Shakespeare’s plays as problem plays. There are three of them: All’s Well That Ends Well, Measure for Measure and Troilus and Cressida.

      These plays are characterized by their complex sensibilities and confusing plots. There are elements of tragedy and comedy in such plays. Measure for Measure centres around sensuality and depravity in Vienna.

      The Duke of Vienna took a break from ruling and appointed a strict judge Angelo as the interim ruler. A citizen named Claudius was convicted of impregnating a woman he was to marry and was ordered to be executed. Claudius’ sister Isabella, a nun, rushed to plead with Angelo who asked her to submit to his will, if Claudius was to be released. Angelo had been betrothed to Mariana whom he did not marry because she had no dowry.

      As it turned out the Duke, in fact, had not left the palace and was disguised as a friar. He saw to it that justice was served to everyone and the guilty were punished. The play’s main themes include justice, morality and mercy.

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