For someone who’s been around for nearly half a millennium, William Shakespeare certainly knows how to stay current. In honor of the Bard’s big day, we’ve assembled a few of our favorite more recent classics that have done justice to his work (and, no, Anonymous didn’t make the list). Check out the clips below and share your favorite Shakespearean takes on film in the comments below!
It’s so hard to choose just one scene from Baz Luhrmann’s innovative William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet, which brought the star-crossed lovers of Verona into modern times by way of a California suburb back in 1996. The gas station prologue was shocking when it first hit theaters, and my jaw still drops hearing Shakespeare’s words come out of the mouths of gun-toting teenagers (Jamie Kennedy! John Leguizamo!) clad in Hawaiian shirts.
More inspiring words were never written than the St. Crispin’s Day speech from Henry V. In fact, just doing a Google search, it comes up many times over as “The Greatest Speech Ever Made.” Here’s Kenneth Branagh with a classic interpretation. Not-so-obscure fact: This speech is the origin of the phrase “band of brothers.”
NEXT: Two versions of the Shrew, plus Keanu
Meet the Shrew. Sure they took some major liberties, but 1999’s Ten Things I Hate About You reached a young, hip audience. Plus this offshoot of The Taming of the Shrew stars the late Heath Ledger and a young, floppy-haired Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Of course, they do pale in comparison to the original knock off — Keenan Wynn and James Whitmore in the 1953 film version of Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate.
We all had our doubts about Keanu Reeves’ ability to carry 1993’s Much Ado About Nothing. I’m still not convinced, but there’s a nostalgia factor here. Plus, masks!
What are your favorite Bard moments of recent times? Mel Gibson in Hamlet? Or the recent Ralph Fiennes version of Coriolanus? Or Gnomeo and Juliet? Or does Sons of Anarchy have enough Hamlet to suffice?