You might know him from Venom, Star Wars: Rogue One, or even as the guy who died a hilarious death on Nightcrawler (an appropriate qualification for his upcoming role), but Riz Ahmed is now on his way to becoming the iconic Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.
Variety reports that while promoting Englistan, his new BBC series, Ahmed also confirmed that his adaptation of the Shakespearean tragedy is currently in development.
The project originally began with Ahmed and writer Mike Lesslie (Macbeth, Assassins Creed). The two had met during their college years.
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The adaptation is expected to be a contemporary retelling, and will be set in modern-day London against the backdrop of England’s economic and political uncertainty. The story will still follow the play’s classic themes of familial honor, moral duty, and dynastic corruption. And Hamlet will likely still die.
Ahmed, also known for his activism (essay in The Good Immigrant and speech at the English Parliament), aims to use this project to bring stories and roles with social impact to the forefront.
Netflix is set to finance and distribute the film according to Deadline.
Daisy Ridley’s new film, Ophelia, an adaptation of Lisa Klein’s 2006 novel Ophelia, has just debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, and it’s got me thinking of the all the Opheliaphiles throughout history. The tragic heroine is one of, if not the Shakespeare character most commonly depicted in art. The incredible visuals surrounding her death—the garlands of flowers each of which carry a separate meaning, the river, her long hair, and beautiful gown—have captured artists’ imaginations for years, so here is a collection of some of my favorite Ophelia paintings.
Ophelia by Constantin Meunier
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Hamlet Act 4 Scene 5 by Benjamin West
Image Via The Neurology Lounge
Ophelia (unfinished) by Jules Bastien-Lepage
Image Via The Eclectic Light Company
Ophelia (1894), Ophelia (1889), Ophelia (1910) by John William Waterhouse
Shakespeare’s work has inspired generations of authors, screenwriters, and poets. His storylines are still constantly used for modern films like She’s the Man and 10 Things I Hate About You. Even The Lion King is based on Hamlet! He contributed countless new words to the English language like ‘lovely’ and ‘bubble.’ He also inspired some of the most beautiful paintings of all time. Let’s take a look at the art inspired by arguably the greatest writer of all time.
1. Ophelia by John Everett Millais, inspired by Hamlet
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Millais’ famous Pre-Raphaelite work depicts drowned Ophelia, bearing wreaths of flowers all with their own particular meaning–poppies symbolizing death, daisies for innocence, roses depicting love and beauty, violets for faithfulness. If you look closely, you can also see the spectre of a skull in the undergrowth on the lower right-hand side of the painting. This is one of my favorite works of art of all time. According to The Tate website:
Millais’s son John wrote that his father’s flowers were so realistic that a professor teaching botany, who was unable to take a class of students into the country, took them to see the flowers in the painting Ophelia, as they were as instructive as nature itself.
2. Ellen Tarry as Lady Macbeth by John Singer Sargent, inspired by Macbeth
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Singer Sargent was inspired to paint this portrait of the actress Ellen Tarry immediately after seeing her perform as Lady Macbeth in a production in the Lyceum Theatre, London in 1888. She wore a spectacular gown which was embroidered with gold and decorated with 1,000 iridescent wings from the green jewel beetle.
3. The Reconciliation of Oberon and Titania by Joseph Noel Paton, inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Image Via Owlcation
According to National Galleries Scotland website:
Oberon and Titania stand reunited and are about to resolve the magically induced confusion between the two human lovers shown sleeping apart. Paton painted this as a sequel to his diploma picture of the fairy rulers’ quarrel.
4. Cordelia’s Goodbye by Edward Austin Abbey, inspired by King Lear
Image Via CultureTrip
This painting depicts Cordelia being banished by her father King Lear, as a result of her refusing to flatter him. Her elder sisters, Regan and Gonoreil, watch while the King of France kisses her hand, as he admires her honesty.
5. Othello and Desdemona by Daniel Maclise, inspired by Othello
Image Via fineartamerica
Here we see Othello and Desdemona, with Iago lurking in the shadows. The colors are so vibrant, and the detail so fine. Thank you Shakespeare for inventing the word ‘bedazzled’ and also for inspiring this beautiful painting. At least Desdemona got to wear that fab dress before she bit the dust.
I’m a bit of a loner. Always have been, convinced I always will be. But that doesn’t stop me from going on dates. I like dates. I like people. People are interesting. Here are five of my worst Tinder stories as told through famous literary characters.
1. When I was twenty-two years old, I went on a date with this cutie who ordered a Jameson and ginger, took one sip, and decided it was just absolutely too strong. We then traded drinks, and he sucked down my gin and tonic and let me talk about myself for the better part of two hours. At the end of the date, he told me I was “the most interesting person he had ever met,” and considering he was a twenty-eight year old twice divorced Republican, I believed him. There was no good night kiss.
Dude was as boring as Nick Carraway and just as memorable.
Image via Turn the Right Corner
2. At twenty-three, I made an Elizabeth Bennett sized mistake and ended up dating a George Wickham-esque nightmare I met off Tinder for just over six months. Beautiful, but unemployed. Charming, but a royal asshole. His golden locks distracted me from his shitty attitude and before I knew it he had me eating from the palm of his hand until months later when I finally opened my eyes and saw him for what he was. A dipshit.
“Mr. Wickham is blessed with such happy manners as may ensure his making friends—whether he may be equally capable of retaining them, is less certain.” Yup, that sounds about right.
Image via Bustle
3. “There is something rotten in Denmark…and it’s his piss-poor attitude!”
The Hamletof my dating mistakes, this dude never stabbed my father but he might as well have. The first time I introduced him to my parents he called my father’s cooking “mediocre” and my mother’s kitchen “cluttered”. He never shut up about the “women of his past,” how awful they were, blah blah etc etc who cares, and when I called him out on it, he would wax poetic and flail dramatically and somehow, it was always my fault. We lasted three weeks.
4. At nineteen, I dated one of the hottest people I had ever met. Part Narcissus, part Dorian Gray, this dude primped, preened, and plucked more than I did. The first time I tagged along to his bimonthly manicure and eyebrow wax he peer pressured me into getting my eyebrows done despite my continued insistence that I am allergic to wax. I mean, I guess peer pressured isn’t the right phrase. I’m petty as hell and so willingly did it just to spite him. Post-wax, he complained every time we went out until the allergic reaction went down and I stopped “ruining his image”. Ladies, he’s still single!!!!
Image via TV Tropes
5. And last but not least, the Lord of the Rings character. On our first date, he brought three friends. Totally Frodo, right? Except how the date actually went was he told me we were getting food, and then instead we went clubbing from 7pm to 2am and at no point did we actually get food. Clearly, he’s Sauron.
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Featured Image Via Tech Crunch, Bookstr, and my own ridiculous photoshopping.
In Shakespeare’s time, many were toying with the ideas of superstition and reality and exploring the stage as a place of fantasy. Because of this we can see a lot of supernatural elements appearing in Shakespeare’s plays, like witches, ghosts, and fairies. Shakespeare’s ideas of what these creatures act like have resonated with us all. They have carried to our present day interpretations of the same beings in literature, film, and even our Halloween décor.
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Macbeth features three witches who seem to drive the entire plot of the play. Shakespeare’s images of the witches show them as three “weird sisters” who stand around a bubbling cauldron chanting creepy things in unison, which we all know makes it even creepier. They tell prophecies of Macbeth’s future. I hope I wasn’t the only one completely frustrated with the story because Macbeth wouldn’t have ever killed Duncan if he hadn’t met the witches and none of those prophecies would have come true and just…ugh.
Now, what I’m interested in is that the images we get of the witches in act one resemble the main things we expect from witches today. Witches in literature and film are often depicted as sisters making potions in a creepy cauldron. Their most powerful spells are always chanted in unison just like the prophetic sisters that Shakespeare created. The cauldron, specifically, has made its way into witchy décor around the globe, including some of my own childhood Halloween costumes.
Image Via Strange History
Before Shakespeare, fairies were seen as dark and evil creatures that were often associated with black colors, as opposed to the bright colors we see in fairies today. Shakespeare changed how we depict fairies with A Midsummer’s Night Dream into creatures that only did mischievous things as something funny as opposed to evil, and who are small, forest-dwelling creatures that are not to be feared. The presence of fairies in A Midsummer Night’s Dream are basically the only reason my ten-year-old self enjoyed watching the play with family as their light-hearted, mischievous behavior made a Shakespeare play something entertaining and funny to watch. I’ve learned to love you, Shakespeare, but back in the day, I couldn’t stand ya. I would now like to thank Shakespeare for his genius brain because without him would we really have Tinker Bell? I think not.
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In Hamlet, when Horatio and Barnardo are investing the ghost of King Hamlet, they explain many things that we associate with ghosts today. They describe an apparition of the fallen king who is dressed in armor from an important event in the king’s life, as you see in many shows today like Ghost Whisperer when the ghosts would always appear in a spooky outfit and then, once they’ve come to terms with their death, are instantly comfy in jeans and a tee.
It is also mentioned that the ghost would only appear in the dark and not in well-lit places (do I need to explain this one?) Lastly, an intense cold falls over the boys when the ghost appears. Now, either Shakespeare had a lot of experience with real life ghosts or his imagination dives into the subconscious of people today because most ghost reports today talk about that chilling cold that falls over the room (and my spine right now).
There you have it, folks. Shakespeare was far too good for us all. When you inevitably see tons of witches, fairies and ghosts this Halloween, be sure to thank the playwright god himself.