Calista’s Cinema Conversations: Movies based on plays

After watching an interview with my favorite actor, Tom Hiddleston, where he spoke about his love for William Shakespeare and his involvement in the “Hollow Crown” television series, I decided to dedicate this week to plays that have been made into films.

The popular British actor Kenneth Branagh starred in many famous Shakespearean movies. Branagh was heavily involved in the filmmaking process of “Hamlet,” “Othello,” “Much Ado About Nothing,” “As You Like It,” “Henry V” and “Love’s Labor Lost,” acting as director and leading role for most of these movies.

Some directors create modern spins on classic plays. “Ten Things I Hate About You” draws direct parallels from William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew,” while “Easy A” refers to and takes on ideas from the novel “The Scarlet Letter.”

Newer movie versions of plays include “August: Osage County,” with a fantastic cast including the amazing Meryl Streep, and the heavily nominated film “Doubt” which also starred Streep. Streep was even nominated for an Oscar for her role in “Doubt,” along with the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Some older classic plays-to-films are “A Streetcar Named Desire” and a few other Tennessee Williams plays like “The Glass Menagerie” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” which were all released in the 1950s. “Death of a Salesman” and “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller have their own film adaptations as well, and were released in the 1980s and 1990s.

Other Shakespearean films that do not star Kenneth Branagh are “Coriolanus,” “The Tempest,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Titus,” based on the play “Titus Andronicus.” Recently, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” received a modern remake released in the summer of this year.

On the topic of modern remakes, Leonardo Dicaprio’s “Romeo and Juliet” might be the most well-known of all Shakespearean films. It was made in 1996 and there have been many other adaptations of the plays, but audiences find this movie to be the most entertaining.

Turning plays into movies can have benefits and detriments to the overall tone of the story; they can have more elaborate sets and close ups of the characters but lack the intimacy of a theatrical setting. It is up to the audience to decide which way they prefer.


Calista Giroux is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at calista.giroux@gmail.com.