10 Things I Hate About You

Many of the plays written by English playwright William Shakespeare have been adapted to films with much success. The comedy "The Taming of the Shrew" is a good example of this. This play has been adapted to movies in several occasions, the first one being a short film directed in 1908 by D. W. Griffith. Over the years, other film adaptations had the participation of renowned personalities from the cinema industry, such as Alfred Hitchcock, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Maureen O'Hara, and John Wayne.

The release of the teen movie "10 Things I Hate about You", back in 1999, served to highlight the fact that William Shakespeare's writings are timeless and universal. In this article we take a look at this modern adaptation of Shakespeare's famous comedy and examine the keys to its success among the public.

The Taming of the Shrew: an introduction to the original play

In order to understand better the success of the movie "10 Things I Hate about You", it is useful to have a general idea about the original play as written by Shakespeare. The Taming of the Shrew was written towards the end of the 16th century (probably between 1590 and 1592). The comedy is set in Padua, Italy, where noble lady Katerina Minola is known for her difficult character and brazen personality. As a result of her harshness, everyone believes that Katerina will never get married.

Katerina has a younger sister, Bianca, who is nothing like her sister and has two serious suitors, Gremio and Hortensio. Seeing the situation, Katerina and Bianca's father decides that he will not allow Bianca to get married unless Katerina does the same first. This decision prompts Gremio and Hortensio to devise a plan to marry Katerina off to somebody else, so that they can compete for Bianca's affection. Gremio and Hortensio see the perfect candidate in Petruchio, who arrives in Padua with the intention of getting married. Petruchio is not taken aback by Katerina's character, and soon they get married.

In the meantime, Gremio and Hortensio continue their game of deception and pretense in order to marry Bianca, who by that time is in love with Lucentio. Bianca and Lucentio get married in secret, and later return to Padua after much confusion about Lucentio's identity (mostly caused by Gremio and Hortensio's plot). While this happens, Katerina's personality begins to change as a result of her husband's efforts to "tame" her, to the point that she is considered the most obedient wife among their acquaintances.

Ten Things I Hate about You

As it would be expected from a typical teen movie, "10 Things I Hate about You" deals with issues like unreciprocated love and confusion. The movie was released in 1999 as a romantic comedy and as a modern adaptation of Shakespeare's famous play. The film's main characters are Kat and Bianca Stratford (played by Julia Stiles and Larisa Oleynik), Patrick Verona (played by Heath Ledger and based on the character of Petruchio), Cameron James (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and inspired on Lucentio), and Joey Donner (who is played by Andrew Keegan and whose personality combines many elements of the original characters of Gremio and Hortensio).

In the movie, Cameron James becomes infatuated with Bianca, but since her father will not allow her to date anyone until her older sister Kat does the same, he conceives a plan that involves Patrick Verona (a rebel by nature) courting Kat. Patrick goes along and accepts money to go ahead with the plan, but he ends up falling for Kat, whose difficult character seems to mirror his own.

At first, Bianca is not attracted to Cameron, and instead shows interest in Joey, although she is unaware that he has made a bet that he can get involved with her. In the end, and after Joey's plot is discovered, Kat and Bianca end up dating Patrick and Cameron.

The film's success was undeniable, and during its opening weekend it made more than $8 million. To understand how well received the movie was, we need to remember that "10 Things I Hate about You" was in movie theatres at the same time as "The Matrix", and the Shakespeare-inspired film ranked second after the classic sci-fi movie. In total, the film made over $53 million. The movie and its cast received several awards, including Best Musical Performance, Young Star Awards, Most Promising Actress, and Best Casting for Comedy Film.

This movie was also well received by the critics, who in their majority believed that the film went beyond the stereotypical high school movie. Many critics also praised the character played by Julia Stiles, who was so clearly different from mainstream female Hollywood characters. Once again, this demonstrates that Shakespeare's timeless vision of human nature is accurate in our days too.