All products and services featured by IndieWire are independently selected by IndieWire editors. However, IndieWire may receive a commission on orders placed through its retail links, and the retailer may receive certain auditable data for accounting purposes.
There’s no denying that William Shakespeare is one of the most well-known and widely respected literary figures in history: a fountainhead for so much of storytelling to follow. His works from the late 1500s are still relevant today, and several of his plays have been adapted into films. The latest of which, “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” will arrive in theaters on Christmas Day, and on Apple TV+ on January 14, 2022.
More from IndieWire
Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand star in the spare, Dreyer-esque black-and-white film directed by Joel Coen. If you’re not familiar with the story, Macbeth is met by three witches who reveal great fortunes for his future. Once these fortunes begin to come true, Macbeth longs for more and falls victim to the manipulation and lies that follow from the trio, ultimately causing his downfall. Washington plays Scottish general Lord Macbeth while McDormand portrays his wife, Lady Macbeth. In honor of the film, we collected a list of other Shakespeare movies that you can buy on Blu-ray (and DVD) or stream online, before or after “The Tragedy of Macbeth” makes its debut. If you’re interested in seeing more works of literature transformed into films, read our list of book to film adaptations due out this year.
Where to Stream: Amazon
“Romeo and Juliet” may be Shakespeare’s most popular work. It tells the story of two feuding families (the Montagues and the Capulets), and a forbidden love that ends in tragedy. In this 1996 adaption, Leonardo DiCaprio plays Romeo with Claire Danes as Juliet. Set in a post-modern city, Baz Luhrmann’s glitzy modernization features rival families, and follows the story of star-crossed lovers. John Leguizamo, Paul Rudd, and Harold Perrineau, are also included in the cast.
Kevin Kline, Michelle Pfeiffer, Rupert Everett, and Stanley Tucci star in this romantic comedy, written and directed by Michael Hoffman. The romantic fantasy film set in 19th century Italy follows a story of forbidden love between youngsters, Lysander and Helena, who outline a plot for Helena to escape an arranged marriage so that they can be together.
More than a typical rom-com, “10 Things I Hate About You” is a 90s adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.” (In fact, many of the characters in the movie kept the same names as characters in the play). The plot centers around a teen named Bianca (Larisa Oleynik) who isn’t allowed to date until her older sister, Katarina (Julia Stiles), gets a date as well. Although she’s beautiful and smart, Kat isn’t exactly a candidate for the popular crowd and doesn’t have guys lined up at her door. Bianca however, is also beautiful and much more of a social butterfly which makes dating easier, so she hatches a plan to hook her sister up on a date with the new kid in school (played by Heath Ledger).
Shakespeare’s “Othello” is a tragedy that shows just how far people can go when overcome with jealousy and feelings of betrayal. In this 1995 film adaptation, Laurence Fishburne stars as a Moorish general in the Venetian army whose courtship of Venetian noblewoman Desdemona (Irène Jacob), causes upset. Meanwhile, an army member Iago (Kenneth Branagh) becomes enraged when he’s passed over for a promotion that goes to his rival Cassio (Nathaniel Parker). As a result, Iago plots to seek revenge on Othello by making him believe that Cassio has been sleeping with Desdemona. Murderous rage then fills Othello.
Where to Stream: Amazon
John Gielgud stars as “Julius Caesar” in this 1970 film set in ancient Rome. As would-be emperor, Caesar (John Gielgud) is easily envied and his position as Rome’s dictator comes with grave consequences when members of his senate, Cassius (Richard Johnson) and Brutus (Jason Robards), conspire against him. They plot to brutally murder Caesar on the Ides of March (March 15), which Romans considered as a deadline date to settle debts. The assassination triggers a huge war where Caesar’s mentee, Mark Antony (Charlton Heston), not only forces the traitors out of Rome, but challenges them to battle as well. After Cassius and Brutus are defeated by Antony, they kill themselves and Antony takes his place as emperor of Rome.
Where to Stream: Xfinity
Inspired by Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” and blended with an American film-noir style, the “The Bad Sleep Well” by Akira Kurosawa is about Kôichi Nishi (Toshirô Mifune), a young businessman on a quest to avenge his father’s death. Set in post-war Japan, Nishi works his way up the ladder of a Japanese corporation, and goes on to marry the daughter of the company’s vice president. During the wedding festivities, Nishi is reminded of his father’s murder and despite now having heavy ties with the possible enemies bonded by not only his occupation, but his marriage as well, he sets out for vengeance.
“Much Ado About Nothing” is a romantic comedy set in Messina, a beautiful Italian port city. It revolves around Beatrice (Emma Thompson) and Benedict (Kenneth Branagh), two bickering friends who have never thought of dating each other, but their friends decide to set them up anyway. Don John (Keanu Reeves) attempts to break up a happy couple by spreading malicious lies claiming infidelity. However, love wins in the end. Kate Beckinsale and Denzel Washington, also star in the film.