The Bards’ plays have been adapted to the big screen by numerous directors over the years, creating a whole Shakespeare movie genre. Shakespeare movie adaptations are big business – at last count, over 420 feature-length Shakespeare movies versions of Shakespeare’s plays have been filmed. This makes Shakespeare the most filmed author ever – in any language!

Here we take a look at some of the classic Shakespeare movie adaptations – from Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V to Roman Polanski’s classic Macbeth, plus a number of films about the life of William Shakespeare himself.

Romeo and Juliet movies

Romeo and Juliet is arguably the most classic romance story of all time, so it’s little wonder that Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet play has been reproduced on the silver screen so many times. The most popular adaptations of the star crossed lovers on the silver screen are without a doubt:

shakespeare movie - Romeo and Juliet

Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 Romeo and Juliet movie

Macbeth movies

Research the best Macbeth movies – Polanskis’ and Nunn’s classic

Polanski's 1971 Macbeth movie

Polanski’s gory 1971 Macbeth movie

Movies about Shakespeare

All Is True, 2019

Written by Ben Elton and directed by Kenneth Branagh, the action begins in 1613 when Shakespeare decides to return home to his family in Stratford upon Avon after the Globe Theatre in London is burned to the ground.

Bill, 2015

A family-friendly comic caper concentrating on Shakespeare’s ‘lost years’ (leaving plenty of room for hypothesis/supposition/fiction) from the creators for Horrible Histories.

Anonymous, 2011

A controvesial take on Shakepeare’s works, focussing on the life of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, an Elizabethan courtier, playwright, poet and patron of the arts.

Shakespeare in Love, 1998

This period rom-com shows a – presumably ficitonal – romance between William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) and Viola de Lesseps (Gwyneth Paltrow) at the time Shakespeare is writing Romeo and Juliet.

Shakespeare in Love movie, 1998

Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow finding love in Shakespeare in Love, 1998 movie.

Other Notable Shakespeare Plays On Film

The Hollow Crown 2012, BBC

The Hollow Crown 2016, BBC

Much Ado About Nothing 1993, Kenneth Branagh

Much Ado About Nothing 2012, Joss Whedon

Hamlet 1996, Kenneth Branagh

The Merchant of Venice 2004, Michael Radford

The Merchant of Venice 1980, Jack Gold

For more info and insight on Shakespeare films, check out – a rather excellent website devoted to reviews of  all things Shakespeare movie-related.

Shakespeare movies - DVD covers

A selection of Shakespeare movie artwork

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