Before there were movies there were books, and some of the greatest films are adaptations of great reads. While many believe that the movies are never as good as the books, I believe that adaptations are a great way to share a story with those who don’t read, along with new generations.
Of course, some films don’t portray the story as well as they could, however, others do a great job of re-enacting the original tale. Here are some examples of great book-to-film adaptations that really do the original story justice.
The Lord of the Rings Series
The Lord of the Rings book series, originally written by J. R. R. Tolkien, were first depicted in film in The Fellowship of the Ring (2001). The books are epic to say the least, and are still to this day one of the best-sold book series of all time. Many people find the original series hard to read as they were written in the 1930’s and are so incredibly in-depth. The movies do a fantastic job of depicting this fantastical land with all its mayhem and mysteries.
The Harry Potter Series
The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling saw its first book released in the 90’s. The story follows a boy named Harry Potter, who finds out that he is a wizard at 11 years old and finds himself deep in the world of witchcraft and wizardry. The books went on to be a worldwide success and the movie rights were snapped up not long after. The film series had a few different directors, but managed to stay true to the storyline and produce some amazing movies for all age groups to enjoy.
The Hunger Games Series
The Hunger Games trilogy are a series of books by Suzanne Collins, which depict a dystopian world and follow the story of three young adults who find themselves in the middle of a rebellion. The books do a fantastic job of allowing readers to sense what it would be like to be the characters living in this world, and the films manage to capture this too. With some very relevant political undertones, the Hunger Games movies (or books) are not ones to be missed.
The Horse Whisperer
Written by Nicholas Evans, The Horse Whisperer tells the tale of a teenage girl who loses her best friend while they are out riding their horses. Her horse survives but is never quite the same again. Her mother takes her and her horse to see an expert, who in a way, ends up healing them as well as the horse. The 1998 film of the same name stars and is directed by Robert Redford, who does an amazing job of this romantic and tragic tale. A young Scarlett Johansson also does a great job as the teenager Grace.
Susanna Kaysen’s Girl, Interrupted is a memoir about herself as a young woman and her experiences in a psychiatric hospital in the 1960’s. The book was turned into a film of the same name starring Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie in 1999. The film and book are both fantastic insights into mental illness and the power of female comradery.
Jackie Brown (1997) is the only Quentin Tarantino movie to be based on a book. The novel titled Rum Punch (1992) by Elmore Leonard follows a 40-something stewardess named Jackie, who has been smuggling illegal cash into the US. Due to some complications, we get to see Jackie devise a master plan to get herself out of a sticky situation. In the film, we get to see a similar story come to life, and it is such a treat to see the novel through Tarantino’s eyes.
Special Mention: Fight Club (pictured top of page)
One of the most celebrated book-to-film adaptations is David Fincher’s 1999 cult-hit Fight Club, starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter. The film is based on the popular 1996 book of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk.
Let us know your favourite book-to-film adaptations in the comments below!
Deserted Island Movie Collection: Since I would have a lot of time to kill, I would bring all of John Ford’s movies (there are over 140 after all).
Best Movie Snack: Love a good cheese platter.