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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Compulsory Valentines Day Post - Adapted Romances

A couple of years ago, I did a Valentine’s Day post. Time for another.

Right now, on Goodreads, people are talking about their favourite romantic reads. It has got away a bit from the original theme, which was about fiddling with beloved romances. But hey, who cares? It’s fun!

I’ll be writing about how people fiddle with famous romances, though. Just a few!

I have a confession to make: I have an unfinished version of my YA version of  Much Ado About Nothing on my computer - time to get back to it...

Shakespeare certainly gets played with - and why not? He played with other people’s stories himself. Plus his stories are so very good! I haven’t seen Gnomeo And Juliet, but imagine Romeo And Juliet with garden gnomes! And don’t forget West Side Story, that amazing dance musical with the lovers being from opposing street gangs! I’ve always liked that cheeky young man Mercutio better than Romeo anyway, and in the film version he was played by dancer Russ Tamblyn. I remember reading a short story, wish I could remember who wrote it or where I read it, told from the viewpoint of Rosaline, the girl Romeo gatecrashed the Capulet party to see. She thinks Romeo is a puppy, but does fall for Mercutio. And she manages to arrange a happy ending with a bit of magic, bringing back the lovers and Mercutio - Tybalt’s bronzed head ends up on Rosaline and Mercutio’s mantelpiece...

These days Shakespeare and other classic writers end up in YA fiction and film. Ten Things I Hate About You brings The Taming Of The Shrew to an American high school. In it, Kate has a very good reason for hating boys - in particular a certain boy. This being modern times, she isn’t “tamed” as such. It is a good idea for a romantic comedy in some respects, ie the younger sister can’t date till the older one is dating, so get her a boyfriend.

She’s The Man is one I used to show my Year 8 students when I was doing an intro to Shakespeare. It takes Twelfth Night to a boarding school soccer team. Viola disguises as a boy when her twin brother goes overseas and joins the soccer team at Illyria high school because her own girls’ team has been scrapped. A very funny film! I made the kids research Twelfth Night so they would get the jokes.

And what about Pride And Prejudice? Apart from all the adaptations, it became Bride And Prejudice, a Bollywood musical. That was delightful. The Bennets become the Bakshis. Mr Darcy is an American who has come to India with his Anglo-Indian friend, whose name isn’t Bingley, though I can’t recall the character’s name. Darcy is investigating the possibility of opening a chain of hotels in India. I liked that they managed to rescue the Lydia character before she got into any real trouble - and she punched Wickham! (Johnny Wickham in this film). Lady Catherine De Burgh was Darcy’s mother, not his aunt, and was the head of their firm.

Another Austen romance was also translated for teens - Emma became Clueless, set in America among wealthy families in California. And very funny it was! That film has becone a classic in its own right, don’t you agree?

Over to you - do you have a favourite book or film adaptation of a classic?


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue - interesting to read these ... and you must have really helped the kids understand Shakespeare better ... I'm afraid I can't think of any others .. but you've introduced me to a few ... cheers Hilary

Sue Bursztynski said...

You’ll probably think of some in the middle of the night. :) I did the introduction to Shakespeare because I didn’t know if they were ever going to study any of the plays at all. I wanted to give them a taste. If the class was a good one, with a reasonable reading level, I’d show a Shakespeare film at the end of the unit - the Baz Luhrmann Romeo and Juliet or once, when they were a very good class, A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Kevin Kline. Otherwise, these adaptations were perfect.