Did you know these films are actually based on classic novels and plays? Well now you do.
Obviously, books are great. You love books! Mmm, lovely literature. But – you’re only human. And hey, sometimes humans want to watch a sassy two hour film instead of spending two weeks reading a book full words like ‘thee’ and ‘doth’*.
Helpfully, Hollywood has come to the rescue. Sort of. Because it turns out there are loads of films that are based on classic novels, but with a modern day twist. Here are the must-see movies to help you bluff your way through the library.
Clueless – Emma
A 90s cult classic, Clueless is actually a pretty faithful adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma. It’s a timeless tale about overlooking the person who is right in front of you. Also features a wardrobe you will crush on hard. Ever wondered where the whole tartan mini kilt and knee sock trend came from? Here’s your answer.
10 Things I Hate About You – The Taming of the Shrew
10 Things I Hate About You is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Featuring Julia Stiles as the truly badass Kat, the story still doesn’t have the most feminist of undertones… as it’s mainly about how a guy can change a girl. Even The Pussycat Dolls taught us we don’t need a man. You do you, ladies.
The Lion King – Hamlet
Lion King is just a kids’ movie designed to entertain children for an hour and half so stressed parents can do laundry or wash their hair, right? Wrong! It’s actually based on Hamlet. The evil uncle, the power struggle, the hyenas… all appear in the Bard’s famous play about the prince of Denmark.
Okay, fine, we’re lying about the hyenas.
West Side Story – Romeo and Juliet
Does this scene sound familiar to anyone? Here’s a hint: girl meets boy from rival family, they fall in forbidden love and then a super avoidable miscommunication results in a tragic death (just saying, this wouldn’t have happened if they all had Whatsapp). And in a nice-ish twist on the original, the girl survives. Hurrah!
Bridget Jones’s Diary – Pride and Prejudice
In a move of casting brilliance, Colin Firth plays Mr Darcy in the BBC adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice AND Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones’ Diary. In this adaptation, we finally see Darcy and Wickham (Daniel Cleaver) come to fisticuffs in the poshest way possible. Colin, you might be older than our dads, but you will forever be the ultimate Mr Darcy.
She’s the Man – Twelfth Night
In this teen spin on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Amanda Byne’s character Viola is told that the girls’ football team has been canned. The coaches won’t let her join the boys team, so she just gives up and finds another sport. Jks! She impersonates her brother and makes it onto the boys’ team with hilarious farfetched consequences. Just like Billy Shakes would have wanted.
My Fair Lady – Pygmalion
Imagining an unglamourous Audrey Hepburn is kind of like imagining Beyonce having a bad hair day, but in My Fair Lady Audrey Hepburn goes from a poor cockney flower-seller who says ‘eh’ a lot to wearing cinema’s most ridiculous hat and using words like ‘splendid’. And it’s based on Pygmalion, a play by George Bernard Shaw whose story – about giant mansplainer Henry Higgins transforming Eliza Doolittle into a ‘proper’ lady – you’ll also recognise in She’s All That and almost every other film where a lady gets a makeover that involves taking her glasses off. Hmm.
Twilight – Wuthering Heights
SO. MUCH. INTENSITY. The gloomy, brooding guy and the (let’s face it, kinda annoying) girl eventually overcome the odds to be together. In Emily Brontë’s 1847 novel there are significantly fewer vampires and werewolves, but just as many tortured looks. Enjoy.
*We should probably tell you here to always read your English set texts anyway. If nothing else, they’ll come up in a crossword one day.