Films About Shakespeare

We all know about the myriad of adaptations about Shakespeare’s plays, but there are a few adaptations and productions about the man himself. I’ve only looked at three here, but I’m sure there are more. A quick Google search brings up mainly his play adaptations, so if you know of any others, let me know, I’d love to watch them.

Shakespeare in Love (1998)

MV5BMTc0ODI2NDk2OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTIzNDQ4OQ@@._V1_UY268_CR1,0,182,268_AL_This one is the biggie. The classic Shakespeare film that won all the awards and everyone loved. The British-American romantic comedy-drama was released in 1998 and centres around the fictitious love affair between Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) and Viola de Lesseps (Gwyneth Paltrow), with many characters based on real historical figures. Set in 1593 it shows Shakespeare writing his classic Romeo and Juliet and there are many references to his other works as well. It remains a popular movie with a 93% approval on Rotten Tomatoes, and at the time won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actress. Some big names starred in at as well including Judi Dench, Martin Clunes, and Geoffrey Rush. While not that historically accurate it is an interesting and enjoyable film, it was one of my earliest exposures to Shakespeare as a kid and I loved it.



Anonymous (2011)

MV5BMjAxOTA5MTMxOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDI4MzU0NQ@@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_Starring Rhys Ifans as Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, this political thriller and historical drama looks at whether de Vere could be the real author of the Shakespeare plays. I am going to talk more about the authorship debate in a later post so I won’t go into it too much here, but it is a curious claim people have made. De Vere is depicted as a literary prodigy and Elizabeth I’s occasional lover, and many of the events are highly dramatised. Where Shakespeare comes into play is that De Vere uses him as a frontman to have his plays and poems performed. For all the controversy and conspiracy theories, I actually liked this film. It was a compelling case but one deeply flawed and one that did not sway my opinion. So much of the argument is based on ignoring key facts, but despite that, it was interesting.



Bill (2015)

MV5BNjkxOTkzNDgwMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDQxNTg4NzE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_As a lover of the TV series Horrible Histories I was excited to hear the principal performers from it were making a movie about Shakespeare. This adventure-comedy film is a fictitious version of a young Shakespeare’s search for fame and fortune and tries to explain what happened during Shakespeare’s lost years. When Queen Elizabeth I wants a play written Shakespeare sees his chance, and with an evil plot to foil as well there is plenty of excitement and humour on offer. The six lead actors play multiple roles, just like on Horrible Histories, and while unfortunately there are no musical numbers to enjoy, the laughter and cheekiness is prevalent. Mathew Baynton stars as Shakespeare, with Simon Farnaby, Martha Howe-Douglas, Jim Howick, Laurence Rockard, and Ben Willbond alongside him.




While they’re not massive productions or movies, there have been other instances where Shakespeare has made it to the screen.

Doctor Who

From the classic series to the new era Shakespeare has been a reoccurring figure in many Doctor Who episodes. In 2007 he got an episode devoted entirely to him with The Shakespeare Code. The full list of Shakespeare in Doctor Who can be found here.

Waste of Shame (2005) – Mini Series

This 90 minute television drama focuses on Shakespeare and the composition of his sonnets. The story depicts moments of Shakespeare’s life with Anne and son Hamnet, as well as other life experiences he has that influences his sonnets. Rupert Graves plays Shakespeare with a supporting cast including Zoë Wanamaker, Tom Hiddleston, and Indira Varma.



William Shakespeare (1978) – Mini Series

This mini-series, also known as Life of Shakespeare and William Shakespeare: his Life & Times, is a historical drama. Broadcast in six parts it is a dramatisation of Shakespeare’s life and each episode was intended to be based around the creation of one of his plays with real life experiences influenced the writing. Shakespeare is played by Tim Curry with Ian McShane as Christopher Marlowe and Paul Freeman as Richard Burbage.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. JoBradley
    Jun 28, 2016 @ 18:43:30

    I really enjoyed Shakespeare in Love, would appreciate if you could check out my review at



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: