The plays of William Shakespeare have received more than their fair share of the cinematic treatment over the years. From the silent era version of The Taming of the Shrew to more recent “modern” adaptations of Titus Andronicus, Coriolanus, and everyone’s favorite standby Hamlet, the works of the Bard have been plumbed to the very depths. Yet, somehow, some of Shakespeare’s lesser known works have yet to see the light of a cinema screen. That is now being rectified with the upcoming Anarchy, a new and updated version of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline.
Anarchy takes Cymbeline out of the world of kings and courtiers and into modern-day motorcycles, street gangs, and drug dealing. The original play tells the story of King Cymbeline, his daughter Imogen, and her secret marriage to Posthumus Leonatus. Scheming members of the royal family and elsewhere lead to war between the Britons and the Romans. It seems pretty clear how the story is going to be updated to include warring gangs and cops – after all, Hamlet is one of the bases for Sons of Anarchy.
The first trailer for Anarchy certainly adds some gunplay and heavy music to Shakespeare, with the likes of Ed Harris, Ethan Hawke, Milla Jovovich, and Anton Yelchin unsheathing knives and firing guns in the midst of (very brief) Shakespearean dialogue. The film is obviously being sold more as a modern-day Game of Thrones than as modern-day Shakespeare, with the Bard’s name remaining unmentioned until the end. Having read Cymbeline, there’s a good reason for that: it’s hardly Shakespeare’s finest hour, and certainly not one of his better known works..
Anarchy is directed by Michael Almereyda, the man behind an updated version of Hamlet that also starred Hawke. How excited you get for Anarchy might depend on how you feel about that film.
Anarchy comes to cinemas and VOD on March 13.