Shakespeare is looked upon as the greatest writer in the English Language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist.
He created many words and phrases still in use today and the very mention of his name can make teenagers turn pale and quake in fear. Fortunately Hollywood in the late ’90’s and early years of the 21st century saw a gap in the market and a number of High School adaptations were made.
10 Things I Hate About You is my personal favourite (I have no idea why – I just enjoy it so much), based on The Taming of the Shrew. It is about a new kid must find a guy to date the meanest girl in school, the older sister of the girl he has a crush on, who cannot date until her older sister does.
She’s the Man, based on The Twelfth Night is about teenager Viola Hastings whose brother decides to ditch schoolfor a couple weeks in London, Viola heads over to his elite boarding school, disguises herself as him, and proceeds to fall for one of her soccer team-mates. Little does she realize she’s not the only one with romantic troubles, as she, as he, gets in the middle of a series of intermingled love affairs.
The darkest adaptation in this list, based on Othello, the main character is now Odin James (‘OJ’), star of the basketball team and the school’s only African American student. Desdemona is Desi, the dean’s daughter and Odin’s girlfriend. Iago is Hugo, the coach’s steroid-addicted son, who plants seeds of doubt that fester in Odin’s mind, leading them all to a violent fate.
One of the best-known updates, Romeo+Juliet is set in modern day Verona Beach. Unusually for a modern version the director (Baz Luhrmann) used the original Shakespearean language and apart from a few changes the movie is almost exactly the same as the play.