Most of us bookish sorts talk about film adaptations with contempt. We see the stories we know and love adapted into monstrosities that make our hearts ache and misrepresent everything we love to the non-reading public. Believe me, I can relate. I watched this happen with particular favorites, like Ready Player One and The Dark Tower.
All that said, I’ve also come across several book-related films that I have particularly enjoyed. Some of these weren’t even particularly faithful adaptations… but they managed to retain (for me) the spirit of the book and brought to life characters I adored. In the bookish community, it can be a bit explosive to say you loved a film adaptation, but I’m putting on my brave face today!
For the purposes of this list, I’m only including movies. I’m sure those going with Best Of will be seeing a lot of Game of Thrones this week, and Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events is excellent…but I’m here to talk about the movies. From all sorts of genres and from any time in the last 30 years. 🙂
While I suppose technically this was a television mini series, it came to me in the form of a single, sit down film and so I’m counting it. I absolutely love Megan Follows in this role and have watched these over and over and over again. I am so utterly loyal to this adaptation that I stubbornly refuse to touch the Netflix reboot, even though people say it’s good. There’s so much sweetness and magic in this that is perfectly captured from the books. And I love the books with all my heart, so please know when I say this is flawless… I mean it with every iota of my soul.
Also the Lady of Shalott scene is my favorite in the entire series… film or books. <3
Controversial opinion! I loved this film. I thought Martin Freeman and Mos Def were excellent casting, and while I wasn’t crazy about Zooey Deschanel… I’m also not crazy about Trillion. I saw The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy a couple of years before I read the trilogy… and standing back… I still really enjoy both of them.
One of my favorite things about this particular story is that it has come in so many adaptations, and they’re all different, and Douglas Addams was involved in all of them. So, like the Harry Potter extended universe… they’re all canon. Whether we like it or not.
The asides from the Guide are my favorite though. So funny.
Okay. So I get that not everyone loved these, but unless you’re a Tolkien superfan, I think we need to step back and admit that these movies kept everything vital to pushing the story forward and captured the feel of the books perfectly. Even though I encourage people to read the original trilogy, the movies are really all you need.
I think all the actors are brilliant and the sweeping cinematic angles are impressive and these films are just really quite brilliant. Lack of Tom Bombadil aside.
And I’ve got to tell you… epic fantasy is really difficult to bring to film. There’s a lot of complicated worldbuilding and a lot of journeying that doesn’t always translate well. With that in mind, the success of the trilogy is twice as impressive.
Now, if you sit down with me and watch this series, I will spend the entire time judging them and pointing out all the things that are not in the movies and how the first couple films really lean towards a Harry/Hermione ship and how I dislike it… but inside, I love them. There hasn’t been anything in film quite as exhilarating as hearing “Hedwig’s Theme” and watching the WB logo appear since Deathly Hallows came out. And I’m including the Marvel films in that statement.
The way the Harry Potter films brought together so many notable, incredible actors and the stories behind the films are also so impressive to me. Are they loyal to the books? No. Are they wholly enjoyable? Yes. I think that if you sit down to watch a movie and your soul sets on fire in the first few moments, it’s a notable film indeed.
So many people gobble up the Robert Langdon books, but I don’t see much conversation about them here in the blogosphere. While Inferno is my favorite story, the Angels and Demons adaptation is my favorite. That is due in no small part to Ewan McGregor, whose accent is everything. But also? You really can’t go wrong with a Tom Hanks movie.
The story of this one is fascinating as well, having the most gorgeous experience of working through so many old, stunning churches, and dealing with the Illuminati.
You want to talk about movies that have nothing to do with the book that inspired them, except for the character names and a thin theme? Girl, Interrupted is one of them. I still think this film is incredible. The performances of both Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie are brilliant.
It’s also one of those films that sticks its middle finger up at the world’s presumptions. It may not follow the story of Girl, Interrupted at ALL (the book is a series of Susanna Kaysen’s essays) but the feeling of the movie is very similar to the book… and the story of the movie is classic as well.
I actually did a whole post comparing Love, Simon with Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda. Contemporary films, for whatever reason, seem to be very forgettable. People watch them once, they love them and they forget them. I love the fact that Love, Simon was made, and that it discusses sexual identity. It drives me CRAZY that this STILL isn’t a thing that we (as a society) can comfortably talk about.
Love, Simon let so many people see themselves on screen in a protagonist and I am here for this film FOREVER. But I also thought it was just really enjoyable. It was a sweet love story and even though it wasn’t perfect, I really liked it as a whole.
This is an older one, but I grew up with Black Beauty and I love it. It’s one of those stories that’s difficult to translate without being too cheesy. Black Beauty is charming and endearing. No small feat for a movie narrated by a horse.
Also, with Disney making all these live action versions of their classic films… they still aren’t making them with real animals! Black Beauty did just that, and to the best of my knowledge, no animals were harmed during this film. In fact, that would be part of the point, because Black Beauty is not only about the life of a horse, but it has underlying themes about animal cruelty. It’s a wonderful film even 25 years later, and good for the whole family.
YA hasn’t always been very present in the movies. In fact, it still struggles. A YA contemporary is difficult to find, and it’s usually YA Something-Else. YA Fantasy. YA Dystopia. The Fault in Our Stars was a perfect story to adapt – it’s a heartbreaking story with poignant moments and scenes that give it a good chance of being memorable.
It’s also really, really close to the book.
Shailene Woodley was a big name after the success of Divergent but it was Ansel Elgort that stole the show here. This adaptation was everything I could have wanted from a book that made me cry while making me want to read it again immediately. It’s still a good watch… bring tissues.
Jurassic Park is so renown as a film that I think a lot of people forget it’s a book as well. It’s had sequels and spinoffs/reboots and amusement park rides but… it’s a book guys! It’s a pretty good book!
That said, I read anything by Michael Crichton because it’s usually quite fascinating. The film adaptation of Jurassic Park retains the same spirit of the book, but scene-by-scene is very different. Some scenes from the original book made it into The Lost World. Still, on its own? This movie is so much fun. And, yeah, I’m talking about the original film. The new ones are… fine? But the original is a modern science-fiction classic.
This week’s Top Ten Tuesday asked:
Page to Screen Freebie (Books that became movies/TV shows, movies that became books, great adaptations, bad ones, books you need to read before watching their movie/TV show, movies you loved based on books you hated or vice versa, books you want to read because you saw the movie or vice versa, etc.)
I think the relationship between books and movies is always interesting, and I’ve been meaning to write a post of adaptations I really liked for a while now. I’m glad this popped up on TTT!
Which film adaptations do you like? There are a lot of imperfections in film adaptations, but I think there’s always one or two that we like anyway. Let me know your favorites in the comments!