Can you imagine Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra transposed to rural India, where Antony becomes a cock fighter and Cleopatra a medicine woman? Or what about a Hamlet in the Himalayas, with the title character seeking forgiveness and reconciliation instead of revenge?
Mark Thornton Burnett, a professor of English at Queen’s University Belfast, has done an extensive survey of some of the best non-English Shakespeare film adaptations from the past 15 years for his book, Shakespeare and World Cinema.
Neva Grant interviews Burnett for this episode of our Shakespeare Unlimited podcast. Listen on iTunes or SoundCloud.
Here’s more information about the movies discussed in the podcast episode:
As Alegres Comadres (2003)
The Banquet (2006)
This Chinese adaptation of Hamlet, also known as Legend of the Black Scorpion, was a box office hit. Shakespeare’s play is interpreted through the lens of a martial arts movie, with Hamlet as a martial arts fighter. Watch trailer
Prince of the Himalayas (2006)
Another Chinese adaptation of Hamlet, presented as a parable of love and forgiveness instead of revenge, is set in ancient Tibet, with references to Buddhist philosophy. Watch trailer
This Mexican adaptation of Othello features a folk dance competition in a rural part of Mexico. Find out more on IMDB.
This Indian adaptation of Macbeth, also directed by Vishal Bhardwaj, is set in present-day Bombay. Find out more on IMDB.
Chicken Rice War (2000)
This Singaporean Romeo and Juliet turns a tragedy into a satirical comedy. The two feuding families own rival chicken-rice restaurants, and the young lovers are acting the parts of Romeo and Juliet in the school play. Find out more on IMDB and watch the trailer.