Oh. My. God. There have been other love stories on the silver screen, sure, but Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 take on Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers is one of the most beautiful movies we've ever seen. If you are not weeping by the end of this movie, there is a cold hard stone where your heart should be.
English actor Kenneth Branagh is a modern master of Shakespeare on film. His performance as the monarch who conquers France is electrifying. Henry V contains the famous St. Crispin's Day speech, which is probably the best psyche-up speech in literature: "And gentlemen in England now-a-bed / Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here, / And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks / That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day."_CITATION42_ Yeah!
Kenneth Branagh again, this time as both director and actor. This delightful movie features pretty sets and an all-star cast that includes Kate Beckinsale and Denzel Washington. The verbal sparring between Branagh's Benedick and his then-wife Emma Thompson's Beatrice is delicious to watch. Equally entertaining is Keanu Reeves' wooden performance as Don John.
Director Baz Luhrmann's awesome version of Romeo and Juliet is fast-paced, modern, and nothing that the Bard could have imagined. Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes are gorgeous, and they manage to make the final scene even more heart-wrenching than the original text. Don't miss the amazing soundtrack.
This lovely film imagines Shakespeare's life during the "lost years" of 1585 and 1592. The plot is made-up—young Will (Joseph Fiennes) falls in love with beautiful heiress Viola (Gwyneth Paltrow), who inspires him to write Romeo and Juliet—but the historical details of Shakespeare's life and times are more or less true. Oh my Bard, we like this movie so much.
This modern-day twist on The Taming of the Shrew takes the story of ornery Katherine (here Kat) to high school. It's fun, funny and surprisingly true to the themes of the Bard's play. The late great Heath Ledger is charming as slacker hero Patrick Verona.
This is a modern-day version of Othello, also set in an American high school. It stars Mekhi Phifer as star basketball player Odin, Josh Hartnett as the scheming Hugo, and Julia Stiles as the doomed Desi. Dark and disturbing, just like Shakespeare intended.