Now, I’m sure I’m not alone in the fact of when I hear about film adaptation of a book I’ve read; I get extremely excited for it. It helps if I’ve obviously enjoyed the book, and I love theorising over who will be cast as who, and how they’ll direct particular scenes and what wording from the book will make it into the movie. And whether it’s a good adaptation or a bad one, it’s always worthy comparing them and seeing whether the film stands up to the book, or vice versa.
So, with my blogpost series of Top 5’s becoming an actual thing, I thought I’d do a blogpost about my personal top 5 favourite book-to-film adaptations. And from this you’ll hopefully be able to discover some new films, or even new books.
1: Gone with the Wind.
Film: 1939 – Book: 1939
Director: David O. Selznick – Author: Margaret Mitchell.
Mitchell’s text is an historical, sweeping novel set in and around the Deep South during the American Civil War, and focuses on life of Scarlett O’Hara, ex-Southern Belle and survivor of the war. And with the film having an impressive running time of nearly four hours, it certainly matches up to the gargantuan novel. The film sticks fairly faithfully to the plot, and with Hollywood royalty of Clarke Gable, Vivian Leigh, Olivia de Havilland and Leslie Howard, the film is rich, sumptuous and a true classic.
2: Memoirs of a Geisha.
Film: 2005 – Book: 1997
Director: Rob Marshall – Author: Arthur Golden
Set against the beautiful Japanese backdrop of 1920s Kyoto, Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha enthralled me as a young teenage, as young Chiyo is sold to a geisha house and through her trials and tribulations, ends up being of the most celebrated geisha of her time. And Marshall’s movie brings this story to life, with a very well-cast crew of actors (Gong Li is a superb Hatsumomo), and a very true-to-novel plot, the film isn’t loud of brash, but approaches Chiyo’s tale in a superb manner.
3: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Film: 2009 – Book: 2005
Director: Niels Arden Oplev – Author: Steig Larsson.
A unsettling and thrilling film which grabs all the tension of Larsson’s first novel, and runs away with it. By paying close attention to the novel, and casting the fierce Noomi Rapace as the mysterious Lisbeth Salander, the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is ride from start to finish. Although scenes are taken from later books in Larsson’s series, the film is taut, terrifying and delightful all in one go.
(I haven’t seen the English version starring Daniel Craig, so I can only recommend this version)
Film: 1940 – Book: 1939
Director: Alfred Hitchcock – Author: Daphne Du Maurier
Once again, another classic film that has thrilled audiences for decades. Fans of Du Maurier’s original novel have praised this novel for how faithfully it stuck to the story, and with the power couple of Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine playing the tragic Mr and Mrs de Winter, this black-and-white gothic tale has thrilled and titillated since release. With Hitchcock’s supreme directing style, and use of suspense, it is no wonder that the author herself said that this film, along with Don’t Look Now, are the only adaptations of her work that she had time for. Also, watch out for Judith Anderson’s excellent acting as the deranged housekeeper Mrs Danvers.
5: To Kill a Mockingbird
Film: 1962 – Book: 1960
Director: Robert Mulligan – Author: Harper Lee
I don’t think any film list can be complete without putting this film forward. Lee’s Gothic tale of racism, inequality and moral issues has been read in countless schools, and her protagonist’s father, Atticus Finch, has served as a sort of moral hero for readers. And in Mulligan’s 1962, Gregory Peck plays Finch in a sensitive and just manner, and with an excellent script and casting of Scout and Jem, the film really blows other adaptations out of water due to its direction and faithfulness to the text.
So, these are my top 5 choices. This year there are so many good books being adapted into films (I’m very excited to see Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children), but I’d like to know what you’re excited for. Leave your answers in my comments.
Until next time!