Modernizing Shakespeare is so hot for ’09. A few weeks ago we learned that “Twilight” director Catherine Hardwicke is tackling an update of the Bard’s “Hamlet” starring Emile Hirsch. Now The Hollywood Reporter brings news of a “modern-day makeover” of “Macbeth” titled “Come Like Shadows.” Little has been revealed about the plot or contemporary alterations of this second adaptation, though like the “Hamlet” update it is being labeled a thriller.
Pete Travis, who has just been hired to direct “Shadows,” further describes it as being “a bold, sexy addition to my slate of films. It’s a powerful, tragic morality tale about personal and political corruption. An awesome, epic story for our troubled times, its irresistible tension holds the audience in a vice like grip, its raw emotion will break their hearts.”
“Shadows” may not have the cool factor that “Hamlet” has thanks to Hardwicke’s involvement, but it does seem to have more academic clout. The screenplay for the film was co-written by two Harvard literature scholars, Jennifer Lee Carrell and Nick Saunders, along with actor Vincent Regan (“300”).
Meanwhile, Travis made a British miniseries about Henry VIII a few years back. It wasn’t based on Shakespeare’s play about the monarch, but it’s a strong enough connection. More recently, Travis directed the gimmicky assassination thriller “Vantage Point,” which spent much of its time running through the same 20 minute span of time as seen from multiple perspectives.
What you may be wondering now is this: did Hardwicke begin another trend with her “Hamlet” gig? After all, she helped make vampires all the rage with the first “Twilight” film. Even if these two modernizations of Shakespeare spawn further updates (the new TV series of “10 Things I Hate About You” might count, too), it’s worth noting that “Shadows” has been in the works for quite some time. As far back as 2000, Regan was attached to direct an adaptation of “Macbeth,” and the current title/incarnation has been listed on IMDb for three years (a fansite for actor Sean Bean has compiled updates on the project since 2005).
Still, it would be interesting to see another surge of Shakespeare updates like we saw a decade ago, when modernizations of “Hamlet,” “The Taming of the Shrew,” “Othello,” and even “Macbeth,” hit the big screen between 1999 and 2001, just a few years after the 1996 release of "Romeo + Juliet." This new version of “Macbeth” will likely bear no resemblance to the earlier comedy titled “Scotland, PA,” a take on the tale which was cleverly set in a fast food restaurant. It might actually be interesting to see a sexual thriller inspired by “Twelfth Night.”
Are you interested in seeing a modern take on “Macbeth”? Would you like to see more updates of Shakespeare? Or, would you prefer the Bard be left to his original plays and see some more original scripts being written?