Today I would like to discuss one of my favorite comedic plays by Shakespeare. Now, I love Shakespeare in general, so it makes it difficult to choose favorites sometimes. That being said, I have always ranked The Taming of the Shrew high on my list! In particular with this post I will be looking at different productions, and especially film versions, of the tale.
Firstly, I will do a quick overview of the premise (for those unfamiliar). At the center of the story is the tale of Katharina and Petruchio. They are seemingly mismatched lovers, who are wed in order for Kate’s younger sister to be able to wed (as she is not allowed to marry until her older sister has). While they begin fighting, and flirting, it soon becomes obvious that a real attraction lay between the two newlyweds. The play is a comic gem that utilizes many tropes that are now commonplace for comedy (and romance).
The Taming of the Shrew was the first Shakespeare play my husband and I saw performed live. It was performed by a small local theater group, who put on an inventive, and uproarious production! My husband is not much for Shakespeare, however, he really enjoyed this play. As with most Shakespeare works this play is best when performed, either on film or on stage.
The musical Kiss Me, Kate centers around an acting trope performing a musical version of this play. An ex-husband and wife team are playing the roles of Kate and Petruchio, and off stage they feel the connection to the roles they play onstage! It is a sweet musical that is a memorable take on the Shakespeare original.
This premise has been used as the basis for the film 10 Things I Hate About You, which is in fact a loose modern adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew! The film is set in high school and takes much of the thematic elements from the original. An example being that the younger sister is not allowed to date until her older sister does!
My favorite film version of The Taming of the Shrew is the 1967 Franco Zeffirelli film starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton! This version both kept true to the original Shakespeare language and setting, and utilized the talents and comic timing of the duo! I always adore watching films with Taylor and Burton, as it is beautiful to see these two real life lovers working opposite one another! The film also gets bonus points from me for the absolutely stunning costumes.
In 1929 Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks starred in a film version of The Taming of the Shrew that is also worth watching. It only takes parts of the original Shakespeare story, and starred Pickford and Fairbanks during the period where their marriage was nearly over. The disdain between them is rather evident in their portrayals. It is an interesting counterbalance to the more lighthearted portrayals in the Taylor and Burton version.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my opinions on different versions of The Taming of the Shrew. I will include a watch list below for anyone interested in this great play. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in the 1967 film. I found the image on pinterest.com via timelessmegastar.tumblr.com.
- The Taming of the Shrew (1929)
- The Taming of the Shrew (1967)
- Kiss Me Kate (1953)
- 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)