The 10 Best Documentaries About William Shakespeare

Oct 20, 2023 | Best Of, Celebrities, History

The life of William Shakespeare is one that continues to capture the imagination of audiences all over the world. From his plays and sonnets, to the mystery of his identity, he has become an enduring figure in our collective cultural memory. But what if you want to learn more about him? If you’re looking for a way to dive deeper into Shakespeare’s life and work, documentaries can be a great way to do just that. Here is a list of the 10 best documentaries about William Shakespeare – all guaranteed to give you an in-depth look into one of the greatest minds of all time. From his early days in Stratford-upon-Avon to his later years as an established playwright and poet, these films provide insight into the life and work of the Bard. Whether you’re a long-time fan or just want to discover more about Shakespeare, these documentaries are sure to make for a riveting viewing experience. So sit back, relax, and explore the fascinating world of William Shakespeare!


1. William Shakespeare – The Time & Life of the World’s Greatest Writer

Through original documents, 16th and 17th century soundscapes and interviews with key personalities, the documentary looks at Shakespeare’s plays in a new light. It explores his impact on the modern world — from Barack Obama to Japanese Kabuki — how he has been interpreted and reinterpreted over time, as well as examining the ongoing debate about who wrote what. This documentary takes a timely look at the landmarks of Shakespeare’s life as we explore places he lived, worked and visited to reveal a complex and fascinating man who was ahead of his time. An exploration into one of the greatest playwrights that ever walked this Earth — William Shakespeare. Through re-enactments, interviews with scholars and actors, and incredible visuals, the impact of his words throughout history will be brought to life. Experience the stories of kings and queens, royal court politics, battles, love stories, tragedies, comedies, and the ever-changing culture that inspired Shakespeare’s greatest works. Discover how his plays continue to influence pop culture today from the silver screen to Broadway.


2. Shakespeare – The Greatest Playwright

When it comes to documentaries about William Shakespeare, there is no better source than People Profiles Documentaries. Their documentary series “William Shakespeare: A Life in Words” is a must-watch for anyone who is interested in the life and works of the great English playwright. They provide an insightful look into his personal life, his professional career, and the societal influences that shaped his writing. The story is told in two parts, with part one focusing on William’s life before he wrote “Romeo and Juliet” and the films of his plays. Part two dives into the more personal aspects of Shakespeare’s life, from his relationship with his family to how theater changed over time during his lifetime. “William Shakespeare: A Life in Words” is an inspiring and informative documentary that will surely make you appreciate the genius of William Shakespeare even more. By delving into his personal life, it allows us to better understand his works and their timeless relevance.


3. William Shakespeare – The Life and Time

The most fascinating thing about William Shakespeare is that for all his world-renowned status, the man himself remains to large degree an enigma. Sure you can visit Stratford upon Avon and wander through his old neighborhood; you can stand in the grounds of the church where he was baptized or perhaps kneel in prayer at his graveside, but none of this sheds much light on the man himself or provides any real understanding of what drives him. That’s why a great way to explore his life is with documentaries about William Shakespeare. From feature length treatments of Shakespeare’s plays, to documentary films examining his life and times in greater detail; today we look at some of the best documentaries about this mysterious figure of four centuries ago.


4. William Shakespeare – Legendary Wordsmith

This series of documentaries traces the life and work of William Shakespeare, from his rise to fame on the London stage to his transformation into a legendary figure. It explores the fascinating enigma surrounding the playwright’s identity, offering unique insights into who he was and what inspired him. Alongside interviews with actors performing some of his best-known works, viewers are treated to rare footage of the places that shaped his life. In addition, these documentaries feature interviews with scholars and actors who have devoted their careers to understanding and interpreting Shakespeare’s works, offering incredible insight into the motives behind his plays and how they’ve been adapted by modern audiences. They provide a comprehensive look at this remarkable man, from his humble beginnings in Stratford-upon-Avon to his later years in London, and exploring the lasting impact of his works.


5. Uncovering Shakespeare’s Mysterious Life

This documentary dives into Shakespeare’s works to analyze why they remain so popular, even after centuries. Explore how his plays have been interpreted over time while learning about the diverse themes, symbols, and images that have made them so cherished. But there is still more to discover! Take a journey through some of Shakespeare’s most famous works such as Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet and Much Ado About Nothing. See how they’ve been adapted for different eras while gaining insight into the creative genius behind them. Uncover the mysteries of William Shakespeare and dive into his life, works, and legacy with this captivating documentary! The story doesn’t end there as you can explore the many other fascinating aspects of William Shakespeare’s life. Learn about what drove him to become one of literature’s most celebrated writers and discover the many interpretations his work has spawned over time.


6. William Shakespeare -The Greatest Playwright

The world has produced many iconic playwrights over the centuries, but none so renowned as William Shakespeare. His plays are timeless and his works have been read by millions of people around the world. From tragedies to comedies, from historical dramas to romances, there is something for everyone in Shakespeare’s work. Fortunately, we can learn more about this incredible man and his work through some of the best documentaries about William Shakespeare that have been produced. The Genius of Shakespeare (2008) is a BBC documentary series that explores the life and works of this great playwright. Through interviews with renowned scholars, actors, and directors, this series offers further insight into why Shakespeare’s plays remain so influential today. Another interesting documentary is Shakespeare Uncovered (2012), which takes a deeper look at some of Shakespeare’s most famous works. Featuring interviews with prominent actors such as Judi Dench, David Tennant, and Joseph Fiennes, the documentary examines the text through their readings and interpretations.

7. The secret truth about William Shakespeare and Stratford England

Shakespeare is one of the world’s most influential authors and his works have been studied for centuries. But what really happened in Stratford England to create such a remarkable playwright? The best documentaries about William Shakespeare provide an interesting insight into his life and the town that shaped him. From exploring the mystery behind his identity, to uncovering details of his plays and his life in Stratford England, these documentaries will leave you captivated and inspired. One of the most popular documentary films is “Anonymous,” which examines the theory that William Shakespeare was actually a pseudonym used by someone else. The film explores the possibility that Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, wrote all of Shakespeare’s plays. It also dives into the political and social atmosphere of the time, providing an interesting exploration into Elizabethan England.


8. Macbeth – The Real King Behind Shakespeare’s Tragedy

Shakespeare Uncovered is a six-episode PBS series that explores the depth of Shakespeare’s work and his influence in the world. Through conversations with leading actors, directors, and scholars, as well as exciting new performances, viewers will gain a better understanding of the plays’ enduring power: why they captivate us so deeply today and how they have remained at the heart of our culture for centuries. The Hollow Crown is a BBC mini-series that brings together four of Shakespeare’s greatest plays and tells the story of King Henry IV, his son Hal, and their turbulent journey to power. Featuring an all-star cast including Ben Whishaw, Jeremy Irons, Patrick Stewart, Tom Hiddleston and many more, this series is an entertaining and thrilling exploration of the power plays in a complex world.


9. William Shakespeare — Biography by A&E

This program is followed by another documentary, titled “Shakespeare’s Globe Theater: A Revolution in the Arts”. This film explores the history of Shakespeare’s famous theater and examines how it changed the world of English theater. From its humble beginnings as a simple outdoor performance space to its current status as a highly respected center for classical theater, this documentary reveals how the Globe revolutionized the world of drama. From interviews with theatergoers to on-site footage, this documentary takes viewers through the history and future of the Globe Theater while exploring the ways in which it has become an international symbol of English culture. Learn more about how one man’s vision changed the course of theater forever.


10. Cracking the Shakespeare Code – The Seven Steps to Mercy

The incredible narrative of Petter Amundsen and Dr. Robert Crumpton’s extraordinary adventure has been documented in this thrilling three-part series. They uncover the truth to one of the world’s greatest mysteries: who wrote William Shakespeare’s plays? The story begins with the idea that a secret code is hidden in the first folio of Shakespeare’s plays, leading to an incredible map with mythical objects. Amundsen and Crumpton embark on their quest to find the truth behind this mysterious code. In this series, viewers explore how the map works and review the codes found in Renaissance art that could potentially lead them to uncovering a great treasure.

Read On – Our Latest Top Documentaries Lists

David B