The Taming of the Shrewd: Is the Polish Movie Based on a Shakespeare Play?

‘The Taming of the Shrewd’ with Anna Wieczur-Bluszcz in the director’s chair, tells the story of a Kaska, a scientist who has recently suffered heartbreak and has come back to her hometown in Poland with the intention of reconnecting with her family and starting an apiary. This upsets the plans of her brother and some local businessmen who were in the middle of closing a deal on the land that she now intends to use for her apiary. To resolve this contention, they hire a debt-ridden handsome man, Patryk, to seduce Kaska and convince her to sell the property.

The Polish Netflix romantic comedy takes us through the antics and hysterics of the townspeople, and the blundering attempts of Patryk and his backers to ensnare Kaska. However, their schemes are foiled time and time again by Kaska’s intellect, and begin to completely backfire when her charismatic personality begins to make Patryk fall for her. Set in the scenic Polish countryside, the comedic romance has a plot and title that may ring familiar to some, prompting the question – is ‘The Taming of the Shrewd’ based on a true story?

The Taming of the Shrewd is Not Inspired by a True Story

‘The Taming of the Shrewd’ is not based on a true story but is inspired directly by the Shakespearean play, ‘The Taming of the Shrew.’ The comedy was written by William Shakespeare in the 1590s, and centered around multiple suitors attempting to tame the elder of two daughters of a businessman by marrying her off, to have the opportunity to court her compliant and desirable younger sister. There are a lot of hidden agendas and elaborate farces, with the twist being that the man who supposedly takes the short end of the stick by marrying the elder sister, is able to tame her and make her a more obedient wife than even her timid younger sister.

In comparison to its source material, ‘The Taming of the Shrewd’ keeps its plot straightforward, while adapting the story for the sensibilities of the modern audience. The desirable younger sister is replaced by the land which is sought after by parties looking to get someone to seduce the older sister, who in this iteration is the fiercely independent Kaska. The biggest twist of our modern tale lies in the sacrificial suitor, Patryk, failing to seduce Kaska, and instead being enchanted by her.

Another possibility for the film’s plot to tingle one’s sense of Déjà vu lies in having seen any of the other media based on the Shakespearean play, as it has been adapted for movies, ballet, opera, and musical theatre. One of the most popular examples of this is in Gil Junger’s ‘10 Things I Hate About You,’ starring Heath Ledger, and retelling the 16th-century play in a 90’s high school setting. The 1999 film followed its source material much closer, with the sisters’ dilemma remaining intact, as their protective father declares that the younger Bianca may not date until her older, antisocial sister, Kat (Julia Stiles), does.

It forces Bianca’s love interest, to pay bad boy Patrick (Ledger) to date Kat, who writes the titular poem, “10 Things I Hate About You,” about her romance with Patrick. Many prominent works of film are inspired by the original play, basing their characters around it and importing its compelling premise into their settings. Cole Porter’s 1963 Western comedy ‘Kiss Me, Kate; McLintock!’ starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara took its outline to the Wild West among ranchers, Comanches, and a divorce-seeking Kate.

Paul Glaser’s ‘The Cutting Edge,’ takes its premise to two unlikely partners set up in figure skating to compete in the Olympics. Further, ‘Deliver Us from Eva’ along with the Indian films, ‘Banarasi Babu,’ ‘Isi Life Mein…!,’ and ‘Nanjundi Kalyana,’ are all inspired by ‘The Taming of the Shrew.’ Therefore, the Polish film, ‘The Taming of the Shrewd,’ takes a compelling time-tried premise of the Shakespearean play, and loosely bases its own plot around it to create a whimsical romantic comedy, retelling the tale in a more feminist and modern iteration.

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