I’m a faithful fan, huge admirer and loyal lover of British and American method ‘how to make high literature more teenager-friendly’. This trick is easy, simple & plain: films, movies, TV versions, adaptations. With very significant ending ‘S’ emphasising plurality, yes, especially for title Shakespeare. According to Wikipedia source this England-born king of tragedy is ‘the most filmed author ever in any language’ with around 500 film versions of his plays produced until today.
Dramas are meant to be watched not read. Mostly by adults not adolescents. Yet the obligation of school is to introduce classic belles-lettres to underaged, usually by teachers of mother tongue. As a schoolmistress of Polish I do know something about it... Since the moment I saw Romeo/Leo di Caprio and Juliet/Claire Danes in 1996 I’ve felt jealous of this wide range of screenings to which my English or American analogues can refer during their lessons. Not only the eternal author of Hamlet is honored this way. At least every decade new versions of evergreens by Charlotte Brontë, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens are made. There are 15 Jane Eyres (I watched 5), 10 Pride and Prejudices (I saw 3), 5 Emmas (I viewed 2) but the absolute record-breakers are Oliver Twists in the number of 20, including also musicals, cartoons, miniseries and animated films.
My first and beloved Jane Eyre was Charlotte Gainsbourg, again in 1996, happy time of my Cracow studies:) I found everything so ideal and perfect in this movie that I completely couldn’t understand why on earth some other director attempted to create another one only a year later? Now I know: it’s a constant challenge for crew and cast; it’s a good way to make the drama or novel everlasting for younger and younger audience; finally it’s looking for – finding – presenting universal content in contemporary form.
Back to title William, prince of comedy. It’s such a pity that most Polish students connect him only with bloody Macbeth, a must read at their age of 16! OK, maybe also with Romeo & Juliet, an all-time archetype of unrequited love... Why not Midsummer’s Night Dream with the conventionality of marriage discussion? Why not The Taming of the Shrew with the possibility of feminist discourse? Why not Twelfth Night, or What You Will with timeless qui-pro-quo theme? Why death and murder instead of fun and laughter? Especially since there are teenage-targeted adaptations which I recommend all language-learners, both before and after 18th birthday.
If you never heard of She’s the Man or 10 Things I Hate About You, just read the poster and watch the trailer. Long-lasting but also life-teaching laughter is guaranteed! I wish we had similar screenings of Polish classics too...