"All books are either dreams or swords,/You can cut, or you can drug, with words." - Amy Lowell, 'Sword Blades and Poppy Seed'

Friday, August 26, 2011

Film Friday pt. 2: 10 Things I Hate About You

Okay, so, we've talked about reading it and seeing the play.  But there have been plenty of movies based on The Taming of the Shrew, and the one I've chosen to talk about is 10 Things I Hate About You.  Obviously, the most important thing about the movie is that Heath Ledger wonderfully serenades Julia Styles with "Can't Take My Eyes Off You."  Well, to some of us anyway.  The movie deals with the complication of the play by eliminating it.  Patrick Verona (Petruchio) does not starve or sleep deprive Kat (Kate).  He is just very nice to her.  Though, when Petruchio first meets Kate, he does the same thing.  He spend the entire time complementing her, no matter how "shrewish" she is.  The Bianca (aptly named Bianca) is much more likable in the movie, and since we actually see her relationship develop with Cameron (Lucentio), it is more believable that they will actually be happy together.

It may seem unlikely that a Shakespeare play set in a contemporary high school in California would be successful, but the general plot suits teenagers well.  It works well as an adaptation of a classic work for a modern audience.  Kat's father actually likes her, he's simply paranoid about teenage pregnancy, so he uses Kat's disinclination to date to keep Bianca at home.  And this is something I particularly like about the movie: it focuses much more on the family relationship.  We see both daughters interacting with their father, and we actually see more interaction between Kat and Bianca.  Because they actually care about each other, when they admit difficult things to each other, it makes it all more meaningful. 

Naturally, in simplifying the play and smoothing off the rough edges, the movie loses some of the richness of the play.  But it maintains much of the essence, acting as an excellent interpretation of the play.  And, of course, if it inspires more people to explore Shakespeare, then it has done an excellent job.

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