Modern Movie Adaptations of Classic Stories

I was speaking to my Swaziland bestie the other day about music with great lyrics. That lead me to talk about a song off one of my favorite movie soundtracks and got me thinking about modern movie adaptions of classics. For those who don’t know what I mean when I say modern movie adaptations, it means stories created by such authors like William Shakespeare or even such tales like Cinderella, are revamped to be set in the 20th century instead of the teenth-century they were written in. So instead of horse and buggys, there are cars and planes adapted to fit the story. It’s still related to the story’s overall plot and the endings but it’s also a little bit different. I actually think it’s quite brilliant when writers and directors do this but anyway, here are a few of my favorites:

  • Romeo + Juliet (1996 film)Image result for romeo + juliet

Okay first thing we must talk about is the cast line up. You have Claire Danes who plays Juliet, Leonardo diCaprio who plays Romeo, John Leguizamo who plays Tybalt, Harold Perrineau who plays Mercutio, Pete Postlewaithe who plays Father Lawrence and a whole host of other cast members that just make this movie so amazing to me. On top of that, instead of speaking in modern tongue, they literally speak the exact dialogue of the story, swords are brand name guns and there’s a bit of a musical feel to it. It doesn’t have the highest rating by movie critics so I’m probably in the low minority of people who love this film but I believe it’s worth watching plus the soundtrack is FANTASTIC!

  • O (2001 film)Image result for o film

Another film with a great cast line up! O is a modern retelling of Othello but it’s set in high school with the premise of teen violence. Mekhi Phifer plays Odin (Othello), Julie Stiles plays Desi (Desdemona), and Josh Hartnett plays Hugo (Iago). It’s also another film that doesn’t have super great ratings but I liked it enough especially since the cast was so diverse plus I was on a Julia Stiles kick back then and she was featured in so many of my favorite movies back then!

  • Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998 film)Image result for ever after

There’s a trend with cast line ups! I don’t care what anyone thinks but but this is literally the best Cinderella film I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen a lot of them! I also want to point out that I’ve never really been a huge fan of Cinderella’s story in general but man does this movie change my mind. Drew Barrymore plays Danielle (Cinderella), Dougray Scott plays Prince Henry (Prince Charming) and Angelica Huston plays Rodmilla (evil stepmother) along with a whole host of others. One of the things I adored about this film was how they were able to meld a fairy-tale with a bit of a historical feel. Leonardo da Vinci (played by Patrick Godfrey) is featured in the film especially when it comes to creating Danielle’s gown for the ball. Cinderella is also not portrayed as this quiet mouse who only talks to animals. She’s this strong female who has a huge thirst for adventure and love!

  • 10 Things I Hate About You (1999 film)

Image result for 10 things i hate about youRemember how I said Julia Stiles was popular? Well, here she is again. What a lot of people don’t know that this teenage romantic comedy is actually based off another William Shakespeare story; The Taming of the Shrew. Heath Ledger plays Patrick (Petruchio), Julia Stiles plays Katarina (Kate) and Larisa Olyenik plays Bianca (Bianca) along with a whole host of other awesome actors. Looking back I can’t say there are lot of teenage based films I would watch again because adult Nel thinks they’re quite cheesy now but this one definitely has special place in my heart. If you know the story of The Taming of the Shrew, Patrick is the bad boy kid new to school who’s not interested in much but then his friend suggests he “courts” Katarina because none of the other hormone driven boys have been able to even crack a smile out of her plus her dad has really strict dating rules. The film centers around Kat creating this list of the things she hates about Patrick, in the form of a poem.

Honorable Animated Mention: Treasure Planet (2002 film)Image result for treasure planet

Have I mentioned how much I love space operas? Because I freaking love all things space opera! Treasure Planet is a modernized version of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson set in space. Joseph Gordon Levitt voices Jim Hawkins, Brian Murray voices John Silver and Emma Thompson voices Captain Amelia. The story revolves around a restless young adult looking to join a ship and go on a fantastic journey. He joins up with John Silver thinking he’ll be part of a cool crew only to find out that John Silver has his own secretive, nefarious plot. This film is Disney made and got a decent enough review. I always thought it was so unique for someone to turn a very old classic, into a fun, intergalactic twist.

There are PLENTY more that I could discuss so I’m thinking of possibly turning this into a monthly series. What do you think? Have you seen any of these adaptations? Do you have favorites of your own that you would like me to discuss in a later post? Let me know in the comments below!


27 thoughts on “Modern Movie Adaptations of Classic Stories

  1. Oh my gosh, I love all of these movies, but I haven’t seen 10 things I Hate About You. I was thinking Romeo and Juliet as soon as I read the first paragraph though. I love Claire Danes and used to watch her on this TV special called “My So-called Life.” Did you watch that too?

    Everafter is one my mom and I watch on repeat, I swear. “O” left me speechless and I still need to read the original book.

    Thanks for sharing such a great post, Nel! 💕 I loved reading it.


    1. YES! Oh my goodness. You’ve inspired a post that features TV shows that had a freaking fantastic first seasons that somehow got cancelled afterwards. I looooooooved that show! That’s how I first met Jared Leto and 30 Seconds to Mars. I feel like watching it again now, haha. The memories!

      I’m so glad you’ve seen “O”! Not many people have ever even heard of it. It was really, really good despite it’s ratings. If/when you watch 10 Things I Hate About you, you MUST tell me what you think! I think you’re going to simply love it!


      1. I’m heading to Netflix and Amazon to see if I can stream it this afternoon. I saw someone else talking about that movie somewhere and I still can’t believe I haven’t seen it! And yes, Jared Leto, a fave! That show is awesome and I’ve watched it over and over, lol. I used to love Dawson’s Creek and Felicity too. You have to let me know if you’ve watched those.

        “O” was like, insane. Shocking even. Julia Stiles has always been a fave and I LOVED her in “Save the Last Dance” with Sean Patrick Thomas. That’s another fave. I’m thinking about spending the entire weekend in front of the TV watching all of these movies. This is such a great post. ❤


        1. Mischenko, we have a million and one things in common! I watched Dawson’s Creek and Felicity! Back in the day when the CW was just the WB. I actually went back and binged watched Felicity when I found out it was on Netflix!

          YES! I have most definitely seen Save the Last Dance! Many times! I had to revisit it recently because I never realized that Kerry Washington (Olivia Pope from Scandal) was the best friend!


          1. That’s too awesome, lol. It was the WB. When Dawson’s dad died, I cried for like days. It’s too funny that we watched all the same shows. I love this.

            Yes to Kerry Washington! She was awesome in that part too. I love her, but haven’t seen Scandal. I have to catch up! 🙂

            One of my most favorite shows “Parenthood” got canceled and I still can’t believe it. It was such a great show and had wonderful ratings. Not sure why they canceled it, but I don’t watch much prime time anymore. My husband does though. I still can’t get over Ozarks. That show is bananas. You have to let me know if you try it out. ❤


            1. I confess I haven’t watched Parenthood and I also don’t watch too much prime time except Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy. I think you’ll love Scandal. Just remember, you’re team Jake. 😉

              I will for sure! We are currently trying to hurry up and finish season 11 of Bones on Netflix before they take it off on the 21st. We’ll have to find season 12 somewhere else to watch it unfortunately but it’s such an awesome show!


  2. Ever after is one of those movies I can watch anytime, in fact I’ll probably watch it very soon thanks to this lovely post. Treasure planet is fabulously fun.


  3. Love this post and this list!! I actually really agree with you about Romeo + Juliet- it’s an amazing film and it’s so impressive as an adaptation. I mean, the whole point of an adaptation (or production for that matter) is to bring the story and the words to life and this movie does that- it’s actually nonsense when people claim Shakespeare has to be done in this staid old-fashioned way… okay I could go on for a while, but rant over 😉 I hadn’t actually heard of O, but now I definitely want to check it out! I am absolutely in love with virtually every cinderella adaptation, so of course I think Ever After is amazing 😀 And who doesn’t love Taming of the shrew? (even if it’s cheesy!)


    1. Hahahaha! Yes, I look back and think 10 Things is so ridiculously cheesy but I adore it! They just don’t make movies like that anymore! Well then the next time I do this type of post, you’ll probably like that one too cause I realized after I typed this up that there actually is another Cinderella adaptation that I really like. You’ll have to find out though in the next post ;). There will be at least 3 of them I think. If you had to pick out of all the Cinderella adaptations you’ve seen, which one is your absolute favorite? I’m really curious.


      1. hehehe yes!! I agree so much!!! Bring on the cheese!! ah I can’t wait!! I love Cinderella and I’m already making guesses in my head!! Honestly, and I know this isn’t a popular choice, but I just really loved the new live action version- cos it was done in a really well, in a kinda classic way, and I just couldn’t stop crying the whole way through (which is oddly a good thing 😉 )


        1. If you were that emotional for that film, I’m gonna have to check it out. I honestly haven’t seen that one yet but I might make an exception of you liked it well enough 😁


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