Shakespeare: 7 movie adaptations that put a modern twist on the Bard

With National Theatre At Home currently streaming their production of Antony & Cleopatra, we've got Shakespeare on the brain.

This one goes out to all the parents currently home-schooling: if you're struggling to get your kids into Shakespeare, one or all of the following films might help...

1. Richard III (1995)

Thought Shakespeare was all grandiose soliloquies and stuffy thesps in wigs and doublets? Along comes Richard Loncraine's fearsome adaptation of Shakespeare's historical drama to blow such notions out of the water.

Loncraine translates Shakespeare's War of the Roses-set play into a fascist depiction of 1930s Britain. The movie is dominated by an imposing Ian McKellen as Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, who looks to usurp the throne, by hook or by crook. McKellen's superb performance is well complemented by a starry supporting cast including Annette Bening, Maggie Smith, Jim Broadbent and Robert Downey Jr.

2. Romeo + Juliet (1996)

Baz Luhrmann is a filmmaker with a flair for the melodramatic and the operatic. He succeeded in engaging a generation of moody teens with Shakespeare with his inventive romantic drama. As the Montagues and Capulets go to war in a Spaghetti Western-themed twist on the Bard, young lovers Romeo and Juliet find themselves caught in the middle.

As the star-crossed pair, both Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes found themselves propelled to stardom. With its attractive young cast, eclectic soundtrack and kinetic visuals, this is the antithesis to stuffy English lessons.

3. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

For those still shedding a tear for the late, lamented Heath Ledger, you can at least take solace in his fine back catalogue of movies. Before he came The Joker, the actor captivated and charmed in an early role in this adaptation of Shakespeare's The Taming Of The Shrew.

It's a smart move by director Gil Junger and writers Karen McCullah and Kirsten Smith. By grafting the Bard's cynical story of relationships to the recognisable, relatable world of high school cliques, the play gains new resonance and reaches a new audience. Complementing Ledger is a who's-who of rising 1990s stars, including Julia Stiles and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

4. Titus (1999)

Word of warning: here's a Shakespeare adaptation that's definitely not suitable for the kids. However, teens studying the text may well get a lot out of it. The Bard's infamously violent and grisly tragedy makes for a ripe drama under the direction of Julie Taymor, who also ropes in partner Elliot Goldenthal to compose an extraordinary, genre-defying score.

Taymor's bold direction mixes archaic trappings and costumes with modern devices like microphones. The approach keeps the viewer off-balance throughout, all the better for highlighting an unpredictable story of revenge. Anthony Hopkins is the eponymous Roman ruler Titus Andronicus and Jessica Lange is Tamora, Queen of the Goths who becomes his sworn enemy.

5. Hamlet (2000)

Shakespeare's grandiose tragedy is considered by many scholars and enthusiasts to be his crowning achievement. The sweeping story of the Danish prince originally occupied a historical setting, but such is the adaptability of the thematic material, it can be moved into different contexts.

After all, the story's themes of subterfuge, family and betrayal transcend any notion of time and place. In this modern take, set in recognisable offices and other contemporary New York environments, Ethan Hawke plays film student Hamlet. Twin Peaks' Kyle Maclachlan plays the treacherous Uncle Claudius.

6. Coriolanus (2012)

Ralph Fiennes directs and stars in this intriguing twist on Shakespeare's complex play of political wrangling and betrayal. The film takes place in an imagined, war-torn state in the Balkans, with Fiennes' General Caius Martius Coriolanus banished from his own kingdom.

The movie purports to take place in the Rome that featured in the original play, but it's clearly inflected with modern trappings. And, shock horror, Gerard Butler puts in a superb performance as Tullus Aufidius, Coriolanus' sworn enemy on the battlefield.

7. Much Ado About Nothing (2013)

In-between his Avengers movies, writer-director Joss Whedon sought to engage in a bit of Shakespeare. He opted to adapt the Bard's witty farce, in which Beatrice and Benedick are tricked into confessing their love for one another, at the same time that Claudio is tricked into rejecting Hero.

Whedon shot this energetic, low-budget adaptation at his own Los Angeles home, shooting in black and white to enhance the sense of indie credibility. The cast includes many Whedon favourites including Buffy's Alexis Denisof, Firefly's Nathan Fillion and Angel's Amy Acker.

What is your favourite modern take on Shakespeare? Tweet us your choices @Cineworld, and catch the National Theatre At Home production of Antony & Cleopatra. It's streaming from 6th May until the 12th of April.