Editor’s Choice: Modern Spin on a Classic Tale

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The 1990s adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Emma” brings the story of matchmaker Cher to modern California.

We all start the semester with the best intentions to get ahead of our homework, get enough sleep and try our best to understand the material — this doesn’t always become a reality.

As reading lists become insurmountable and concepts become more confusing, we begin to wonder if getting a college degree is really worth it. But fear not, modern Hollywood has given some relief to the problem of difficult books. Here’s a list of some of the many adaptations of classic tales:

Note: Don’t try to use these to pass your midterm. It’s called artistic liberty for a reason.

’10 Things I Hate About You’ (1999)

William Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of the Shrew’

This adaptation of Willy Shake’s “Taming of the Shrew” throws the classic characters into a high school in modern Los Angeles.

Julia Stiles plays Katarina, the tempestuous older sister of Bianca (Larisa Oleynik). When Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) falls for Bianca, he will do anything for her, including convincing resident bad boy Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) to date Katarina.

All the aspects of a ’90s teen romance, as well as all the components of Shakepeare’s play, are present in this movie. With comedy, romance and some character development, “10 Things I Hate About You” is an excellent example of a modern classic.

‘Edward Scissorhands’ (1990)

Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’

Tim Burton’s story of a gentle creation with scissors for hands is a loose adaptation of Mary Shelley’s original “Frankenstein.”

An aging inventor builds himself a boy, Edward, but unfortunately dies before he can finish, leaving Edward with scissors for hands. When an Avon saleswoman discovers Edward, she brings him into her pastel-pink suburban world.

Shelley’s story of an intelligent monster unable to fit into society is especially present in this film. While the monster is harmless, he is feared by all and must navigate not only his own humanity but also the humanity of others.

‘Clueless’ (1995)

Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’

Cher (Alicia Silverstone) is used to getting what she wants: she has a big house, a big closet and rich friends. What can a pretty, popular girl do to amuse herself in sunny California? Matchmake, of course.

When the new girl at school, Tai (Brittany Murphy), shows interest in a boy who is so not right for her, Cher takes it upon herself to pair Tai with the perfect man. Meanwhile, she escapes the relentless advances of a fellow student, pursues cute new boy Christian and ignores her annoying stepbrother, Josh (Paul Rudd).

Like in the original novel by Jane Austen, “Clueless” follows Cher as she discovers that meddling in other people’s lives causes more harm than good.

Does everything crash all around her? As if!

‘She’s the Man’ (2006)

William Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’

Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum star as Viola and Duke in this early ’00s remake of another Shakespeare classic, “Twelfth Night.”

When Viola’s brother Sebastian decides to skip town the same time her school cuts the girl’s soccer program, she decides to do the only logical thing: impersonate her brother and play soccer as him. Only one problem: Viola is decidedly not a boy.

Things only get more confusing from there: Viola begins to fall for Sebastian’s roommate, Duke, who has a crush on Olivia. Meanwhile, Olivia is falling for Sebastian (who is actually Viola) while Sebastian’s girlfriend Monique tries to uncover Viola’s secret.

If you think that’s bad, try reading it in Shakespearean English.

This modern retelling has all the comedy and romance of Shakespeare’s original play, starring some of the most iconic actors of today.

‘Easy A’ (2010)

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s ‘The Scarlet Letter’

While the original packs a lot of religious overtones in one, “Easy A” starring Emma Stone and Penn Badgley gives more comedy to the classic story of a girl who is accused of adultery.

Olive (Stone) does a friend a favor by agreeing to say she had sex with him. One thing leads to another and soon, Olive’s reputation as a slut is secured, without her ever having to do anything. To top it all off, Olive begins to wear a scarlet “A” and provocative clothing to fuel the rumor mill.

“Easy A” pokes fun at film adaptations while being one itself, but also offers an important message on the dangers of a rumor.

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