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)
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)
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)
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)
Remember 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)
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!