Thursday, June 2, 2011

New Twists on Old Classics

Don't worry, I'm not randomly launching a screed against New Coke twenty-five years after the fact. I'm talking about the FX show Sons of Anarchy, aka "Hamlet on a Harley." Series creator Kurt Sutter took the basic premise of Hamlet and set it in a biker gang. How brilliant is that?

Current leader Clay (Ron Perlman) is Claudius; his wife Gemma (Katey Sagal) is a modern-day Gertrude; and her son Jax (Charlie Hunnam) is the "prince" and would-be heir who wavers in his committment to the club and senses something rotten his father's demise.

I think the reason the concept appeals to me so much is because A) it's unexpected and B) the roots of the story are so powerful that they really will work in any environment. Even though I know how Hamlet ends, it's fascinating to watch the tale unfold within the framework of a biker gang.

It's why I enjoyed Amy Heckerling's Clueless (which is basically Jane Austen's Emma for Valley Girls) and the 1999 film 10 Things I Hate About You (which is The Taming of the Shrew in high school).

Have you ever considered taking a classic or well-known story and placing it in a modern setting?

Is there any bizarre combo you'd like to see? (King Lear in the fashion industry?)


  1. Sarah, your timing is SO CRAZY... I JUST FINISHED season 2. SO GOOD! And I totally heard previously that's what Sutter was going for with it. I'd say it's got a little bit of The Scottish Play in there too, but yes, VERY Hamlet.

  2. All the time - I got into USC film school with a treatment for a modern-day twist on...well if I told the blogosphere, someone might steal it now ;P