9 Movies You Never Would Guess Were Influenced by Shakespeare

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Shakespeare is the most famous playwright in the western world, which means that the stories he wrote are engrained in western storytelling. There are lots of movies out there that you've probably seen and not even realized were based on a Shakespeare play. In a movie forum someone recently said, “I’m looking for movies based on Shakespearean plays but aren’t actual movie versions of them. Movies like She’s the Man (12th Night) and I0 Things I Hate About You (Taming of the Shrew) rather than Romeo + Juliet or Othello etc.” Fans online gave the following recommendations.

1. Scotland, PA (2001)

Scotland, PA is Macbeth set in a fast food restaurant. It’s got Christopher Walken, so obviously you should watch it,” said u/RichCorinthian.

This indie movie is a more obvious re-telling of a Shakespeare play than some of the others on this list set in 1970s rural Pennsylvania.

2. Ran (1985)

This Academy-Award winning Japanese movie is based on King Lear mixed with legends of the daimyō Mōri Motonari. A wealthy lord decides to abdicate his role and divide his lands between his three sons

3. Throne of Blood (1957)

This is another Japanese re-telling of a famous Shakespeare play, though this time it's Macbeth.

Throne of Blood is so good,” u/atonofapples wrote. “Saw it at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2010, then watched the movie shortly after. Definitely the best “Macbeth” adaption.”

4. O (2001)

There is definitely truth to the idea that Shakespeare's plays are just as dramatic as an American high school. This dramatic movie takes Othello‘s plot and puts it inside a modern high school.

5. Rosencrantz & Gildenstern Are Dead (1990)

This comedic retelling of Hamlet takes a whole different spin on Shakespeare's classics.

Written and directed by the talented Tom Stoppard, “The f***ing dialog just rolls and it’s like honey,” said u/Daft_Gilligan88.

6. West Side Story (1961) & (2021)

As one of my personal favorite musicals, West Side Story takes the story of Romeo and Juliet and turns the family rivalry between the Capulets and the Montagues into a rivalry between warring gangs in modern urban America.

The music is incredible and the story is heartbreaking, making for an incredible musical.

7. Forbidden Planet (1956)

This sci-fi classic is about a group on a spacecraft that travels to a planet to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a group of scientists who visited the same planet years back.

“It's a sci-fi reimagining of [T]he Tempest,” said u/FloridaFlamingoGirl.

8. Shakespeare in Love (1998)

This comedic drama is a fictional tale of William Shakespeare himself and his love story with a woman who poses to be a man to be in one of his plays. The movie is based on a bunch of different Shakespeare plays and drops fun references for theater lovers to discover.

9. The Lion King (1994)

Disney lovers may adore the Lion King, but did you know that the Lion King‘s plot closely resembles Hamlet? The story of a fatherless prince finding his way in the world is central to both stories, while the evil uncle is the villain trying to take power for himself.

u/FloridaFlamingoGirl calls the Lion King, “The ultimate feline-based adaptation of Hamlet.”

This thread inspired this article.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Featured Image Credit: Disney Enterprises, Inc. and Buena Vista Pictures.

Author: Maya Capasso

Title: Freelance Entertainment Journalist

Expertise: Entertainment, LGBTQ+, TV, Movies, Games, Lifestyle


Maya Capasso is a passionate journalist and content writer with over 3 years of experience writing in the entertainment, lifestyle, and culture space, currently serving as an Entertainment Journalist and Trending Topics Writer for Wealth of Geeks. Maya's BAs in History and Women's & Gender Studies gave her research chops and a discerning eye for social commentary.