The Month of Romance: How Shakespeare Has Influenced Modern Day Rom-Coms
By Liz Armstrong
It’s the month of romance! Happy February. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we thought it would be fun to share how William Shakespeare’s works have influenced our modern day romance movies.
It’s no secret that Romeo and Juliet is the original and best-known romance of Shakespeare’s, and that this play has influenced many movies, such as Disney’s Lion King II: Simba’s Pride and Gnomeo and Juliet. The popular play West Side Story, adapted into a 1961 and 2021 film, is another obvious retelling.
However, let’s focus on just romantic comedies, and maybe you and your Valentine will want to snuggle up and watch one of these light-hearted and fun movies in a new light – knowing now that it was The Bard himself that influenced them.
10 Things I Hate About You: The Taming of the Shrew
This classic 1999 rom-com featuring Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles follows the plotline of The Taming of the Shrew almost spot-on. Patrick Verona is trying to convince Kat Stratford to go out with him, persuading her to do normal “girlfriend” things like go to the Prom. Although Shakespeare was going for more “housewife" in The Taming of the Shrew the similarities are there.
Just like Shakespeare’s play, Kat’s sister Bianca can’t start “courting” until her sister agrees to date as well.
Additionally, the characters last names are Stratford (Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon) and Verona (many of his works are set in Verona, Italy). If that’s not Shakespeare-inspired, we aren’t sure what is.
She’s The Man: Twelfth Night
Featuring Channing Tatum and Amanda Bynes, this soccer-focused rom-com is one of the funniest out there. When Viola (Amanda Bynes) disguises herself as her twin brother Sebastian to attend a boarding school and join the men’s soccer team, she finds herself falling in love with her roommate, Duke (Channing Tatum).
So where’s the Shakespeare inspo? Let’s state the obvious. They use the same names: Duke, Viola, and Sebastian. And although Viola pretends to be a man in both the play and movie, the reasoning is a little different. In Shakespeare’s version, Viola does it to protect herself and receive love from Duke Orsino. In the 2006 film, Viola just wants to play soccer, and when her women’s team gets cut, disguising as her twin brother seems to be the only option.
Get Over It: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
This 2001 film might be a little too obvious, but we can’t deny that the inspiration was there. The star-crossed group of high schoolers do, in fact, star in a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Besides putting on their own rock-version of Shakespeare’s play, the movie is a pretty loose adaptation of his work.
Starring Kirsten Dunst, Ben Foster, and Mila Kunis, Shakespeare would’ve been the most appreciative of Martin Short as the theater director– as we all know The Bard would have appreciated his humor.
What are your favorite romantic comedies or Shakespeare romances? Please share on our Instagram or Facebook page @utahshakespeare. Happy Valentine’s Day from us to you!
We’ve given you an idea for a date night, but if you’re still on the hunt for a gift, signing your significant other up for an education class or purchasing them a gift certificate to see a play this season may be the perfect solution. Click here for more information on the 2023 education classes.