And a happy/morbid death day as well, but regardless–HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE!!!
For those who don’t know, I LOVE Shakespeare. There are some people out there who think appreciating Shakespeare is more of a clichéd interest of pretentious readers/writers (insert eye roll), which I actually have major beef with (and I do bite my thumb at you, sirs). Throughout high school and college, I’ve spent my fair share of time with the Bard in all of my lit classes. I’ve written many an essay on him. Heck, I even studied abroad in London just to, you guessed it, take a class on Shakespeare–and actually saw one of his plays performed at the beautiful Globe Theatre!
Learning more about Shakespeare on his own turf completely changed the way I experienced the literature. And even though there is a crap-ton of murkiness behind his authorship and identity and whatnot, I have absolutely no shame in fangirling over his work. My absolute favorite would have to be The Merchant of Venice (‘If you prick us, do we not bleed?’–ughh, I LIVE for that speech and the moral debate over Shylock), along with The Tempest right after (I’m a fan of revenge, clearly), Macbeth (yup, revenge, though Lady Macbeth steals the show), Much Ado About Nothing (I live for the love-hate and the banter), and I actually really enjoyed Measure for Measure even though everyone in my class seemed to hate it. Boo.
My favorites usually change depending on my mood, but those top two are solid. So along with my favorite works, here are some of my other Shakespeare-related favorites and fun things to keep up the celebration:
SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE (of course)
A gorgeous medley of Shakespeare’s works (starring a hunky Will Shakespeare!) with way too many familiar faces and a whole lot of love.
GET OVER IT
A loose retelling of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in high school starring, yet again, way too many familiar faces in all of their early-2000s glory. Complete with a whacky musical I would actually put down good money to see in person.
ROMEO AND JULIET (1968)
While R&J is not my favorite Shakespeare work by a long shot, this is one of the films I grew up on during my childhood because my parents loved/still love it so much (yup, weird). Hence, it’s always held a special place in my heart. Plus, it’s kind of freaky how much Romeo looks like Zac Efron á la High School Musical. The resemblance will distract you the whole entire movie.
THE LION KING
This is the King of Disney Movies and Feels, which was also influenced by biblical tales of Jesus and Moses, as well as Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
SHE’S THE MAN
Of course. Anything starring a cross-dressing Amanda Bynes is hard to miss, especially when it’s a retelling of Twelfth Night that stars Channing Tatum, soccer dilemmas, and Gouda cheese.
NOTHING MUCH TO DO
In a fashion similar to the amazing Lizzie Bennet Diaries, this vlog series is a modern high school retelling of Much Ado About Nothing set in New Zealand. Discovered it earlier this year and was pleasantly surprised by it.
Yet another work I was pleasantly surprised by, and also based on a book by Isaac Marion, this film is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet as a zombie comedy. I know, sounds so random but works SO well.
And there are WAY too many more to add to the list, but clearly one can see the influence Shakespeare has had, and continues to have after all this time, on our world, media, and stories we create. Also, he coined SO many words in our dictionary, ‘swagger’ being the best gift of all. So Happy 451st, Shakespeare! Still killin’ it and touching lives everywhere, even in the grave.