Best Shakespeare Films of all time

William Shakespeare Chandos Portrait

Best Shakespeare Films

There are a number of film adaptations of William Shakespeare’s work, so it can be hard to find the best ones. Fortunately, We’ve compiled a list of our favorites for you below.

We’ve put together a list of the 20 best adaptations of William Shakespeare’s plays to show both new and existing fans how wonderful movies can be.

They can both show people more about Shakespeare while also being good films in their own right.

Here are the best Shakespeare Films

20. Julius Caesar (1953)

Julius Caesar

This is one of the most famous Shakespeare plays and one of the most popular movies based on it.

The film stars John Gielgud as Cassius, James Mason as Brutus, and Marlon Brando as Mark Antony.

The movie is a classic Hollywood version of the tragedy some Americans regard as their own.

The play tells the story of two Roman generals, Brutus and Cassius, who are attempting to convince the Roman people to support the assassination of the tyranical ruler of Rome, Julius Caesar.

19. Twelfth Night (1996)

Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night is a 1996 British romantic comedy film based on the play of the same name by William Shakespeare.

The film was directed by Trevor Nunn and stars Imogen Stubbs, Helena Bonham Carter, Ben Kingsley, Robbie Coltrane, Nigel Hawthorne, and Richard Briers.

It is set in a country house where the characters are playing Twelfth Night, but it is not clear which Twelfth Night.

18. As You Like It (1992)

As you like it

In this modern-dress version by director Christine Edzard, Shakespeare’s pastoral comedy, written during a time of immense social upheaval, has sharp edges.

Or at least it does in this modern-dress version by director Christine Edzard, which makes it into a thinly veiled allegory for the rise of fascism.

17. Angoor (1982)


Angoor (1982) is a classic Indian film that is not only the only feature-length adaptation of The Comedy of Errors but also a genuinely insightful one.

Shakespeare’s good-natured romp about two sets of identical twins separated at birth is given a new spin in this Hindi language adaptation.

16. Othello (1989)


Othello (1989) is a 1989 stage performance of Shakespeare’s tragedy of race, staged at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg during the apartheid era.

Janet Suzman’s version of the play caused a sensation, and with good reason.

It is a passionate story about love and jealousy, and about how these two powerful emotions can destroy any human being.

15. The Bad Sleep Well (1960)

The bed sleep well

“The Bad Sleep Well” is a 1960 Japanese film directed and co-written by Akira Kurosawa.

The film is a modern-dress adaptation of William Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet.

The story follows the revenge-driven protagonist, Toji Makabe, who seeks to find out why his father was murdered.

14. Titus (1999)


Julie Taymor’s version of this gore-filled early tragedy – hand-lopping, people being baked in a pie, plus the rest – is both stylised and stylish, somewhere between Mad Max and The Craft.

The play is a tragedy about Titus Andronicus, a general in the Roman army, who returns from war to find his country ravaged by a plague and his family destroyed.

After defeating the Queen’s sons in battle, Titus captures her daughter Lavinia and forces her to become his wife.

13. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935)

A midsummer nights dream

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a 1935 film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play, adapted by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and directed by Max Reinhardt.

The film stars James Cagney, Olivia de Havilland, Mickey Rooney, Dick Powell, Joe E. Brown and Victor Jory.

The film is about the story of a group of young lovers who venture into the forest near Athens for a night of revelry.

12. Much Ado About Nothing (1993)

Much ado about nothing

Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy by William Shakespeare.

It is set in Messina, Sicily, and tells the story of Beatrice and Benedick who are tricked into thinking they are in love.

The play’s title derives from an expression that means “no more than a joke.”

11. Romeo + Juliet (1996)

Romeo and Juliet

A modern take on Romeo and Juliet, this film is a must-watch for all lovers of Shakespeare’s classic.

When Romeo Montague falls in love with Juliet Capulet, their feuding families refuse to let them be together.

But the two young star-crossed lovers find a way to be together, despite their parents’ objections.

10. Hamlet (1921)


Inspired by Edward P. Vining’s book The Mystery of Hamlet,

“Hamlet” is a 1921 German film adaptation of the William Shakespeare play Hamlet starring and produced by Danish silent film actress Asta Nielsen.

It was directed by Svend Gade and Heinz Schall. The film was shot at the Johannisthal Studios in Berlin.

9. The Tempest (1979)

The Tempest

The Tempest is a 1979 film that was adapted from William Shakespeare’s play of the same name.

8. King Lear (1971)

King lear

King Lear is a British 1971 film adaptation of a Shakespeare play.

It was directed by Peter Brook and starred Paul Scofield.

A bleak and desolate retelling of the Shakespearean masterpiece, King Lear is a harrowing and uncompromising tragedy.

The story follows an aging king who decides to divide his kingdom among his three daughters.

When he learns that one of them has betrayed him, he goes insane and divides his kingdom between the other two.

This leads to a war between the two sisters, as well as civil war within each kingdom.

7. Richard III (1955)

Richard II

“Richard III” is a 1955 British film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play of the same name.

The film depicts Richard plotting and conspiring to grasp the throne from his brother King Edward IV, played by Sir Cedric Hardwicke.

In the process, many are killed and betrayed, with Richard’s evil leading to his own downfall.

The prologue of the film shows an actor portraying Richard on stage at a theatre, entertaining a full house with witty banter before revealing his true identity,

5. Maqbool (2003)


In this city’s criminal underworld, the lord of all lords is Jahangir Khan (Pankaj Kapoor). Those loyal to him include Maqbool (Irfan Khan), his chief.

But Maqbool is in love with Nimmi (Tabu), Jahangir’s mistress, who convinces him to be ambitious and after maneuvering potential rivals out of the way, Maqbool betrays Jahangir, killing him in his own bed.

Maybe it’s not such a good idea to haunt the ghosts of your past actions.

4. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

10 things I hate about you

10 Things I Hate About You is a 1999 American romantic for romantic comedy film directed by Gil Junger. The film stars Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Larisa Oleynik.

10 Things I Hate About You is a modernization of William Shakespeare’s late-16th-century comedy.

In the story, new student Cameron (Gordon-Levitt) is smitten with Bianca (Oleynik) and, in order to get her attention and win her heart, he agrees to take part in a bet.

3. Chimes at Midnight (1966)


Is a 1965 period comedy-drama film directed by and starring Orson Welles.

Chimes at Midnight is a film about the relationship between Sir John Falstaff, the father figure, and Prince Hal, the son.

It’s a story about how to be loyal to your family and friends without letting them rule you.

2. Hamlet (1964)


Hamlet is a classic Shakespearean play, and this 1964 film adaptation is the best one I’ve seen. It’s easy to follow, and it’s beautifully shot.

The acting is superb, with Innokenty Smoktunovsky as the perfect Hamlet.

If you’re looking for a great way to introduce yourself or someone else to Shakespeare, this film is perfect.

1. Throne of Blood (1957)

Throne of blood

Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood is a 1957 Japanese historical drama film co-written and directed by the renowned Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, with special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya.

It tells the story of a war-hardened general, egged on by his ambitious wife, who works to fulfill a prophecy that he would become lord of Spider’s Web Castle.


We hope you’ve enjoyed our list of the 20 best adaptations of William Shakespeare’s plays.

Leave a comment with your opinion or any questions you may have below…

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