Several adaptations of William Shakespeare’s works have appeared on the big screen.
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Playwright William Shakespeare was born in Stratford in 1564. He is largely considered to be the greatest dramatist of all time.
Plays by Shakespeare are produced more frequently than any other playwright’s because they have been translated into every major living language.
According to the Guinness Book of Records, there have been 410 film and television adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays, while IMDB recognizes Shakespeare as a writer on 1,371 films, dating all the way back to an 1899 film production of King John.
It’s odd, then, that there haven’t been many films on William Shakespeare!
We’ve compiled a list of the top five films about William Shakespeare’s life:
1. All is True
Kenneth Branagh (Henry V) directs and Ben Elton (Upstart Crow) writes this 2019 film about a dark and little-known period in William Shakespeare’s life.
Shakespeare returns to his hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon in 1613 to confront his neglected family following the destruction of his beloved Globe Theatre.
Shakespeare is played by Branagh, who is joined by Judi Dench (Victoria & Abdul) and Sir Ian McKellen (The Lord of the Rings) as well as other notable actors.
Critics lauded Branagh’s portrayal in All is True as a “soothing tale of family secrets and seething resentments” (Rolling Stone).
Amazon Prime Video has the movie All Is True, which you can view right now.
Roland Emmerich, director of Independence Day and Godzilla, helmed this contentious 2011 film.
The 17th Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere, is the subject of a biography by Anonymous. He was an Elizabethan courtier, playwright, poet, and art patron.
With Vanessa Redgrave as Elizabeth I and Rhys Ifans as de Vere, the film argues that he wrote all of William Shakespeare’s plays.
While critics have noted that the less persuasive it becomes (Roger Ebert) to convince an audience of Anonymous’ half-baked thesis, the more difficult it appears to be to pass it off as legitimate (The New Yorker).
Amazon sells the DVD of Anonymous.
This 2015 comedy-adventure film aimed towards families has a much lighter tone and takes itself much less seriously.
Bill, based on the true story of Shakespeare’s “lost years,” is a completely fictitious portrayal of the young bard’s desire for fame and money.
Helen McCrory (Harry Potter) as Queen Elizabeth and Damian Lewis (Homeland) as Sir Richard Hawkins join the regular cast of Horrible Histories.
With “jokes that should play just as well to bright children and immature adults,” Bill was described as “a wonderfully entertaining, if derivative panto-ish romp about the early life of Shakespeare” (The Guardian) (The Telegraph).
4. Shakespeare in Love
Filmmaker of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
The 1998 release of this romantic period comedy-drama garnered seven Oscar nominations.
Actor Joseph Fiennes portrays William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) as he falls in love with actress Gwyneth Paltrow (Gwyneth Paltrow) as he writes Romeo and Juliet in the year 1593.
Reviewers praised this “rom-com with additional smarts for the literature scholars, which doesn’t alienate everyone else,” noting that Madden “makes Shakespeare approachable, amusing, and fun for modern audiences” (Variety).
5. A Waste of Shame
In 2005, the BBC aired a TV movie starring Tom Hiddleston as Shakespeare’s son-in-law John Hall.
Shakespeare’s sonnets are examined in this 90-minute play on his life and times.
Rupert Graves, best known for his work on Sherlock, takes on the role of William Shakespeare alongside Indira Varma, Zo Wanamaker, and Anna Chancellor (Four Weddings and a Funeral).
Compared to Hollywood’s portrayal of Shakespeare’s life, Amazon customers found A Waste of Shame to be “extremely down-to-earth” and that “Rupert Graves creates a very credible Shakespeare.”