Shakespeare Plays Available in Video Format
Scholars Online Educational Resources


All’s Well That Ends Well
Antony and Cleopatra
As You Like It
The Comedy of Errors
Henry IV, part 1
Henry IV, part 2
Henry V
Henry VI, part 1
Henry VI, part 2
Henry VI, part 3
Henry VIII
Julius Caesar
King John
King Lear
Love’s Labour’s Lost
Measure for Measure
The Merchant of Venice
The Merry Wives of Windsor
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Much Ado About Nothing
Richard II
Richard III
Romeo and Juliet
The Taming of the Shrew
The Tempest
Timon of Athens
Titus Andronicus
Troilus and Cressida
Twelfth Night
Two Gentlemen of Verona
The Winter’s Tale

Available versions

1936: George Cukor

1954: Renato Castellani

1965: Val Drumm, Paul Lee

1968: Franco Zeffirelli

1976: Joan Kemp-Welch

1978: Alvin Rakoff

1993: Norman Campbell

1994: Alan Horrox

1996: Baz Luhrmann

2010: Dominic Dromgoole

2013: Carlo Carlei

2014: Don Roy King, David Leveaux


1961: West Side Story

1992: Efim Gamburg, Dave Edwards (animated)


2015: Shakespeare Uncovered, Season 2, Episode 2

Romeo and Juliet
1996: Baz Luhrmann

To my taste, a serious contender for the title of worst cinematic Shakespeare is the Baz Luhrman production entitled Romeo + Juliet. It’s transposed a kind of Miami Vice universe, and it expends virtually all its dramatic and emotional capital merely trying to achieve the transposition. Nothing remains for the story. We are invited to admire the cleverness of the director in leaping the artificial hurdles he has set up for himself, but in the process we are never drawn into the story. I confess to looking on this kind of enterprise with a large amount of skepticism from the outset, but I will also admit that not every modernistic production is necessarily a train-wreck. The Ethan Hawke Hamlet (2000: Michael Almereyda), while it has serious problems, is not nearly this extreme; the version with David Tennant is vastly better, using its relocation in time and space to some advantage. Taken as a whole, it works.

Romeo + Juliet does not. I know that the film has its champions, especially among those who believe that Baz Luhrman can do no wrong. But the graffitistic sensibility of the title more or less sums up the aesthetic of the whole, which resembles nothing so much as a crude joke scrawled by an illiterate on a bathroom wall. Taking a variably talented cast ranging from the good (Clare Danes as Juliet and Pete Postlethwaite as Friar Lawrence, for example) to the unspeakably bad (Leonardo DiCaprio, who has acquitted himself reasonably well in some other films, but would be well advised never to attempt Shakespeare again — certainly not until he learns enough English to figure out what the phrases mean), Luhrman seems to have set out on a course of mere artistic demolition for its own sake. The language has been abused, the emotional core has been wrenched from its moorings, and any good-faith effort to elicit even a kernel of what Shakespeare was driving at has been eclipsed by arch inversions and pointless distractions — handguns named “Sword”, the biker friar, casual and extensive drug abuse, a transvestite Mercutio, and more or less random sexual activity sprinkled wherever the director can’t think of something else to do. One imagines that this was not accidental, but that it represents an attempt to do a post-modern inversion of the play. Still, I am hard-pressed to say what interest it serves, or whose, other than a kind of anarchic delight in literary vandalism. I suppose some people like that — but whether you do or not, it has virtually nothing to do with the play that Shakespeare wrote.

If you want to see Romeo and Juliet with gangs, watch West Side Story. It has a better concept, better acting, and some catchy tunes.

Abra: Vincent Laresca

Altar Boy 2: Alex Newman

Altar Boy 2: Cory Newman

Altar Boy: Fausto Barona

Altar Boy: Ricardo Barona

Anchorwoman: Edwina Moore

Apothecary: M. Emmet Walsh

Attractive Girl: Lupita Ochoa

Balthasar: Jesse Bradford

Benvolio: Dash Mihok

Captain Prince: Vondie Curtis-Hall

Capulet Bouncer: Mario Cimarro

Caroline Montague: Christina Pickles

Choir Boy: Quindon Tarver

Dave Paris: Paul Rudd

Diva: Des’ree

Father Laurence: Pete Postlethwaite

Fulgencio Capulet: Paul Sorvino

Gloria Capulet: Diane Venora

Gregory: Zak Orth

Juliet: Claire Danes

Kid With Toy Gun: Rodrigo Escandon

Mercutio: Harold Perrineau

Middle Age Occupant: Carolyn Valero

Middle Age Occupant: Paco Morayta

Nun: Gloria Silva

OP Officer: Ismael Eguiarte

Peter: Pedro Altamirano

Petruchio: Carlos Martín Manzo Otálora

Post Haste Clerk: Catalina Botello

Post Haste Delivery Man: Jorge Abraham

Rich Ranchidis: Michael Corbett

Romeo: Leonardo DiCaprio

Sacristan: John Sterlini

Sampson: Jamie Kennedy

Station Mother: Margarita Wynne

Susan Santandiago: Harriet Sansom Harris

Ted Montague: Brian Dennehy

The Nurse: Miriam Margolyes

Tybalt: John Leguizamo

Undertaker: Farnesio de Bernal