By Emina Sabic
Anyone who does not like Shakespeare is stupid. OK, maybe not stupid but they obviously have no taste. The lovely lad from Stratford-upon-Avon covers all manner of sins; romance, tragedy, comedy, sex, all written in such a beautiful way that it makes your heart bleed. What is there not to love?
Part of the reason Shakespeare’s plays have stood the test of time is because they adapt so well to films aimed at a teenage audience. As a teenager all you want to do is fall in love and have big, epic romances. Not to mention the ability to answer insults with the kind of rapier wit that smoulders on the pages of Willy Bard’s works. Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me? You’ve obviously never been a fourteen year old girl.
Therefore, I have compiled a little list of the best of the bard, teen film adaptation style.
“O” directed by Tim Blake Nelson
A story of jealousy, betrayal, love and racism, starring the all-too-gorgeous Mekhi Phifer, Josh Hartnett and Julia Stiles. The harrowing fate of the main characters is excellently portrayed in this 95 minute version based
on one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies, “Othello”. Of course, you have to carry a torch for Britain’s Shakespeare raconteur Kenneth Branagh’s version - but give me a high school setting in the mid 90s to early 2000s and the (in this case basketball) game is over. The voiceover in the end always gives me the creeps in ways I can not explain. Deliciously dark and food for thought, just like the bard envisaged it.
“Get Over It” directed by Tommy O’Haver
While we’re on the subject of teen movies, we can not ignore the former queen of this lovely genre, Kirsten Dunst, who stars in this wonderfully quirky adaptation of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” alongside amongst others Ben Foster and the ever so dishy Colin Hanks. It’s a feast for the ears as well as eyes, and we get to hear Kirsten sing! Hold your sarcastic remarks, it ain’t half bad, actually. Mila Kunis and Zoe Saldana show up in tiny roles but ladies and gentlemen, hold on to your hats. Sisqo makes an appearance. Remember him? Anyone? Ah, just watch the film.
“She’s The Man” directed by Andy Fickman
One of my all time favourite plays, regardless of category is “Twelfth Night”. So much so that well into my late teens I was insistent on the fact that when I had children, they would be twins called Sebastian and Viola. Actually, I still haven’t ruled that out.. Mistaken identity, shipwreck, love, cross dressing! Oh the joy!
Remove the shipwreck, throw in a divorce and wrap it up into a glorious bow in the teenage world of football playing Amanda Bynes, Channing Tatum et al. Gotta love it. Bonus points for pointing out that girls are just as good as boys at sports. Hurrah!
“Romeo + Juliet” directed by Baz Luhrmann
This gem of a film (I’ll let you figure out which Shakespeare play this one’s based on yourselves) has stayed with me since I first saw it on VHS sometime in the late 90s. Arguably the greatest catastrophic love story ever told, Luhrmann’s version is just flawless. Even the soundtrack kicks ass. Also, a modern day setting combined with iambic pentameter gets my approval any day of the week. Guns instead of swords, the Capulets in tropical shirts, Paul Rudd’s smile… Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes are exceptional as the star-crossed lovers, however it is John Leguizamo as tempestuous Tybalt and Pete Postlethwaite as Friar Lawrence that steal the show. Absolutely wonderful. Sorry Ciara…
“10 Things I Hate About You” directed by Gil Junger
Gun to head, this is my favourite teen film of all time. The fact that it’s based on “The Taming of the Shrew” is just a delightful bonus. I saw this as a thirteen year old dweeb in the cinema with my older cousin and was instantaneously hooked. Hooked on the awesomeness that is Bikini Kill- loving, Simone de Beauvoir-reading Kat, whom I wanted to be. Minus the reading of the dreadful poem in the end, of course. Shudder alert! Let us not forget the lovely Joseph Gordon-Levitt, although why he falls for Larisa Oleynik’s vacuous character is still beyond me. However I will admit that when she kicks Joey’s ass towards the end, it is pretty funny. Saving the best for last, this teenage jewel of a flick also contains one of the sweetest wooing scenes of all time: Heath Ledger singing “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, for the love of your mistress’s eyes, log onto Netflix and prepare yourself for 99 minutes of pure, teenage angsty perfection.