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9 Films You Didn’t Know Were Based On Shakespeare’s Work

It’s a widely held belief that the great writer William Shakespeare celebrated April 23rd as his birthday, making today his 450 birthday. Of course, this is difficult to confirm since he was born before Facebook. What did people do without birthday reminders?

In honour of what we’re pretty sure would be Shakespeare’s four and a half century birthday, we’re taking a look at films you may not know were based on his work.

Film: West Side Story
Based On: Romeo and Juliet
Synopsis: Two star crossed lovers meet in the Upper East Side, they sing a little and they dance a lot. The Jets and the Sharks replace the Montagues and the Capulets and most of the details are the same as the original, except Juliet/Maria lives.

Film: 10 Things I Hate About You
Based On: The Taming of The Shrew
Synopsis: Not only is 10 Things a great adaptation of the original story, but it also sits firmly in place as one of the best teen films ever made. With a cast that includes Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon Levitt and the late Heath Ledger, the film still stands up 15 years later. Plus, I always liked that the title rhymed with Shakespeare’s play.

Film: Get Over It
Based On: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Synopsis: The 2001 film starring Ben Foster and a very young Kirsten Dunst and Mila Kunis isn’t based entirely on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but the play is performed within the film, with Foster’s character often reimagining real scenes taking place within Shakespeare’s story.

Film: She’s The Man
Based On: Twelfth Night
Synopsis: When her twin brother takes off for a few weeks, Viola, played by Amanda Bynes, assumes his identity and goes undercover, scoring his spot on the boys soccer team. Many of the characters in the film are named after characters from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

Film: The Lion King
Based On: Hamlet
Synopsis: If more of Shakespeare’s work was adapted into Disney films I feel like high school English would have been way easier. Essentially, Scar is Claudius, Simba is Hamlet, Sarabi is Gertrude, Mufasa is King Hamlet and Pumba is hilarious.

Film: The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride
Based On: Romeo and Juliet
Synopsis: It seems only fitting that the next film in the Lion King franchise is also based on a Shakespeare play. This time, Disney adapted Romeo and Juliet, with Simba and Nala’s daughter falling in love with a lion from Scar’s tribe.

Film: O
Based On: Othello
Synopsis: Julia Stiles and Andrew Keegan, both of whom appeared in 10 Things I Hate About You, pop up in a second Shakespeare adaptation, this time starring alongside Mekhi Phifer, who plays OJ, the character based on Othello. The violent and disturbing film is a fitting tribute to one of Shakespeare’s darkest pieces of work.

Film: Warm Bodies
Based On: Romeo and Juliet
Synopsis: Nicholas Hoult plays R, a zombie who dreams of days when he can walk faster than two kilometers a day. When he falls in love with the very alive Julie, she falls back and the undead begin to return to the living. R = Romeo and Julie = Juliet?

Film: Gnomeo and Juliet
Based On: Romeo and Juliet
Synopsis: Okay, this one is easy. I just wanted to include it because it’s SOOOO cute.