Favorite books to movie adaptions
My daughter is about to start reading Anne of Green Gables. After she’s done, I told her we would watch the television miniseries. It is one of my favorite book to movie adaptions ever. The actress chosen to be Anne Shirley was everything I had ever imagined Anne would be from her carrot-y braids to her penchant for over dramatization.
So often when you see the transformation of a book into a movie there is this let down, a certain disappointment that the movie failed to capture the spirit and magic of the characters you have built up in your mind.
Books have been a ripe source of movie inspiration both in the past and more recently. I don’t have Starz but the production of Outlander has captured the attention of much of my Twitter feed and there are tumblrs devoted to the rising star Sam Heughan who plays Jamie.
I can see why. He emotes in a picture. (I think 50 Shades should have picked him as Christian Grey rather than the Dornan character who looks like he has about as much sex appeal as a thimble)
While the whole of YA books transformed into movies haven’t done as well as the original spawn, Harry Potter, the moderate success of Divergent and the stunning success of the Jennifer Lawrence lead Hunger Games, leads me to believe that Hollywood will take more chances on YA books despite the bombs of Beautiful Creatures and Mortal Instruments.
I’ve been utterly captivated for years by the Tolkien productions of Peter Jackson and anxiously await the third and final installment of the Hobbit. But I think my appreciation for these movies has more to do with the fact that the books themselves were such a distant memory and I hadn’t loved them enough to create the characters in my own mind. Thus Jackson’s rendition was perfectly fine to adopt as my own.
Who the lead characters are is important but the story is as well. When I watched the Harry Potter movies this past year (my daughter was reading the books and then we’d watch the corresponding movie after she finished) almost none of the movies lived up to the books in part because some of the acting was poor but so was some of the on screen storytelling. The Goblet of Fire was my least favorite with the last two being my most favorite. I felt it had a lot to do with the director and the parts of the story the director choose to tell.
As a kid I remember thinking the Swiss Family Robinson movie was loads more interesting than the book because the movie had pirates. The book is just full of awful colonialism. I re-read that with my daughter a few years ago and cringed hard throughout the whole story. The whale is my favorite part in the book–that and the salt cave.
Recently the book Princess Bride was on sale and I mentioned that I loved the book. In the comments someone mentioned disliking both the book and the movie, but the movie had such charm. The casting for that movie was spot on. Cary Elwes played the perfect stableboy turned swashbuckling pirate.
As a young teen I cried buckets over The Outsiders which my brother had rented surreptitiously from the local video store. My parents would never have approved but I saw the movie first which can have a huge impact on one’s opinion of a book.
Stand by Me and Shawshank Redemption were both award winning movies adapted from short stories by Stephen King. Yes, the casting was great in both movies but I thought the actual movie making itself was gripping. I can still vividly hear Morgan Freeman narrating parts of Shawshank Redemption in my head.
The movie version of The Silence of the Lambs was incredible and it actually sent me on a Thomas Harris binge which I regret because I then read a number of mysteries and still have nightmares about the one with the blind girl, the snake and the dish of milks. *Cries*
But there are no shortage of terrible movie adaptions. The Princess Diaries is one of them. I loved those books and even with the smart casting I felt that they never really captured the adorkable charm of Mia. I love Katherine Hepburn but could barely finish the Little Woman movie. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist was another movie I thought was awful. Or maybe I just don’t like Michael Cera.
The list of books to movies seems endless. Why not share with your favorite or least favorite books to movies!
Hmmm, off the top of my head I’ve really liked the movie adaptation of Conagher, A Room with a View, the 73/74 version of The Three Musketeers, the 30s/82 versions of The Scarlet Pimpernel, and Captain Blood. The movie version of The Black Swan and the 40s The Sea Hawk are good movies though nothing like Sabatini’s books. I’ve never read St. Ives but the movie is fun as is the 52 version of The Importance of Being Ernest. One movie adaptation I didn’t care for was Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. The book is so much better.
The BBC version of Pride & Prejudice remains one of my favorite book-to-movie adaptations because it’s faithful almost to a fault. The only thing I didn’t like about the casting was Jane….she was not as beautiful as she was purported to be in the book. I also loved The Color Purple movie more than the book. I admit that I read the book when I was a teenager so I may feel differently if I read it again. I just haven’t done so yet. As much as I enjoy The Godfather movies (1&2 only), I don’t think I will ever get around to reading the book. Casino was adapted from a book as well, which I may or may not read. My least favorite book-to-movie adaptation is probably The Scarlet Letter with Demi Moore. Granted, there is a disclaimer of sorts saying that it is loosely based on Hawthorne’s book, but it still is an awful movie.
I think my favourite adaptation was the old Tom Jones, with Albert Finney. I thought they captured the essence of the humour really well.
And, I also love the Anne of Green Gables mini-series. Colleen Dewhurst was perfect as Marilla (and in my adolescent mind blurred with my beloved grade 6 teacher, who also reminded me of Marilla), so that I was a little teary when Dewhurst died. I’m not often sentimental, but when I am, I’m a sentimental fool.
The Amanda Root/Ciaran Hinds version of Persuasion is absolutely perfect.
Oh, the worst, the worst – The Dark Is Rising. Missed out everything that makes the books wonderful and trashed them completely.
Richard Donners Three Musketeers is perfection. Oliver Reed was born to play Athos (& Micheal York was just so gorgeous as D’Artagnan)…& both films are faithful to the book.
Stardust is probably the best adaptation of any of Neil Gaiman’s books…& it has Di Nero as a cross dressing pirate (Arrghhh ).Love it
The Girl With The Pearl Earring was far more accessible to me as a film,as I found the book quite tedious.
But Bridget Jones Diary ….. effing awful ! So much of the wit & joy of the books & articles never made it to the screen, & Renee Zellwegger’s accent is so stilted,I cringed ever time she opened her mouth .
Now, if someone would just make a film of The Black Tulip, I’d be a very happy bunny indeed
@Ros: Oh Yesssss… utterly brilliant .
I read “The Hunger Games” before the movie came out (more like marathoned it) and I have maintained from day one, the movie was better. I know people want to stone me for saying things like that. The movie is better?! Here’s why:
The story is visual, very visual. I do not think you can convey the level of emotion required in a kids killing kids way without seeing the struggle visually. To me the book seemed like it was trying so hard to be dramatic and I was turning pages to see how many were left in a chapter. In the movie I sat there the whole time and just watched.
On the other hand I like the Twilight movies more than the books simply because, by the last one, I’m pretty sure they were making fun of themselves. The movies got more and more ridiculous with worse and worse acting, yet I laughed at every movie. I know it wasn’t the intention but my goodness they were some of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.
I had mixed feelings with the Harry Potter series. I thought both parts of 7 were the best while parts 3 and 4 were the weakest. It bummed me out because 3 and 4 were my favorite books at the time. I struggled with the decisions to leave some things out while inserting new things which were unnecessary.
In the end I think it depends what you want out of the adaptation. If you want 100% accuracy, stick with the book. If you want to see things play out visually with a 80% or so accuracy, there are some great movies.
Love the LOTR adaptations — and since I read them every few years and read them again just prior to the Fellowship of the Ring’s theatrical release, I can say that (for me) the casting choices worked really well even if they weren’t as I might have pictured.
I think Bladerunner is superior to it’s source book (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep) in that it took a rather convoluted and confusing book with too much going on and boiled it down to a really beautiful piece of art. Another movie I preferred to the book was The Princess Bride.
I was transfixed by the film Interview with the Vampire even though I thought Brad Pitt was a really poor Louis — I actually enjoyed Tom Cruise as Lestat, and I thought the look and sound of it was just so gorgeous and lush.
I also loved the Masterpiece Theater production of Bleak House. After watching that I read the book and it is now one of my top ten favorite books. I re-watched the miniseries after the finishing the book and it was still awesome in my opinion.
The BBC production of Pride and Prejudice (with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle), the 1982 Scarlett Pimpernel (with Jane Seymour) were awesome.
I loved the Last of the Mohicans film starring Daniel Day Lewis, but I tried a few times to read the book and could not get past the first few chapters.
Adaptations where I thought the book remains superior to the films would include “Holes”, “The Golden Compass”, The Harry Potter series, The Wizard of Oz, and I’ll include the X-Men films since I was a huge X-Men fan in the 80s-90s and the films just never captured the comics for me.
I love Jane Austen’s Persuasion (the one with Ciaran Hinds). Also The Lord of the Rings, but not The Hobbit. The latter is too unfaithful to the book, adding in all kinds of bits of story that don’t belong in that book in order to get a trilogy out of a very short book. It just made me angry all the way through the first movie, and I can’t bring myself to watch the second.
I adored Room with a View and Howard’s End.
I also totally agree about The Shawshank Redemption and Stand by Me.
Finally, Brokeback Mountain.
I’m laughing about “Silence of the Lambs” because I did the same thing. I also agree regarding “Anne of Green Gables.”
There are rare times when I like movies/tv shows better. For example, Game of Thrones. I hate the books. I also dislike The Strain series, but enjoy the show.
The Harry Potter movie that disappointed me the most was the third. The Patronus scenes weren’t as touching as they were in the book.
Also agree with the comment re Bridget Jones. I felt the same way about The Shopaholic movie. The book was much more charming.
I loved the movie Under The Tuscan Sun, not so much the book. Maybe it was just all the scenes of Tuscany…
On the small screen, has there ever been an actor as perfect in a role as David Suchet’s Poirot?
I am right there with you on Anne of Green Gables! I watch it as an adult and still get transported back to Anne Shirley’s life.
The BBC production of North and South by Gaskell is phenomenal (and I know I am not alone in enjoying that within the romance community).
I recently saw The Maze Runner at the movies and thought it was much more engaging than the book, which I couldn’t finish it was so boring. I can’t say how accurate the movie was but visually I thought it was impressive.
I am also a big fan of the Deathly Hallows book to film adaptation, probably my favorite movie from the entire Harry Potter series.
I love Room With a View, the movie, but er never read the book.
My favorite, relatively recent book-to-movie adaptation was The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler. I actually liked the movie better as I found many of the performances charming and moving, especially those of Grigg (Hugh Dancy) and Allegra (Maggie Grace).
At some point I’ll be watching Outlander, I’ve watched two seasons of Game of Thrones, and I am very much looking forward to Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell—enough to do a reread before its release. I have to admit I like the new trend of series TV for longer historical/fantasy mashups.
And I adored the Megan Follows’ version of Anne of Green Gables. Just wonderful.
(I’m sure I have other strong opinions of movies but these are what come to mind.)
I really enjoyed the adaptation of Horatio Hornblower with Ioan Gruffodd. It really brought the pages to life for me. Also, Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock Holmes. The actors perfectly captured their characters in my mind.
As a side note, “Ring”, you know, that super creepy movie from a couple of decades ago actually has a really amazing book. Ring, by Suzuki Koji, 1) makes way more sense, and 2) is far scarier. I’ve never had a book creep me out, but that one had me clutching the binding until the very end.
Well, I’ll be the first to admit it.
My name is Kati, and I love the Keira Knightly version of Pride & Prejudice more than the BBC one, which I know is truer to the book. I’m not saying either of them are *better* than Austen’s source material, but I do love the movie. It’s a total comfort watch for me.
Count me among those who are huge fans of the LOTR movies. While I haven’t enjoyed the Hobbit series as much (they feel really self-indulgent to me in length), I adore and regularly watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Also, I love the Godfather movie much more than the book, which feels really dated to me, though my husband loves the book as much as the movie. The Godfather is one of my “stop and watch” movies. Doesn’t matter what channel it’s on, if it’s on, I must stop and watch.
Oh! And of course, I adore Game of Thrones. I read the first book, then decided I liked being unspoiled for the TV series more than I liked the books. I plan to read them when the GOT series is through.
Last of the Mohicans is SO much better than the book. There is an old Masterpiece Theater series of it that I remember fondly from my childhood but I can’t tell you how good it is. The original Forsyte Saga miniseries is also very good. Not better than the books, but a worthy adaptation.
My favorite guilty pleasure adaptation is The Man in the Iron Mask with DiCaprio, Byrne, Depardieu, Irons, and Malkovich. It’s schmaltzy as can be and you know the older guys did it for the payday, but they seem to be having so much fun and Leo is at the height of his prettiness while still *acting*.
There are a ton of great adaptations of mysteries (Dashiell Hammett has a bunch), and in my experience noir mysteries can have really good adaptations if you get a good director and screenwriter who can translate the atmosphere.
My biggest problem with the Gaskell and Austen adaptations is that they turn the novels into primarily romances in the screen versions. They’re lovely as free-standing experiences, but they leave out so much of what make the novels rich that I rarely rewatch. Of all of them, the Root/Hinds Persuasion works best for me.
My favorite adaptation, bar none, that I am probably alone in: Barry Lyndon. God I loved that movie when I saw it as a teenager in the theater. That made me want to learn everything possible about the 18thC as much as reading Heyer did. And yes, I know it’s unbelievably slow. I know it’s way more Ryan O’Neal than anyone should have to watch in one sitting. But even at that age I knew I was watching a master director.
ETA: I read Howard’s End after I saw the film and was impressed at how well the movie captured the book even though it differed in quite a few ways. But don’t get me started on A Passage to India. A great book, David Lean-ized.
I saw the movie first but Housekeeping (1987, starring Christine Lahti) was a really great adaptation of the book by Marilynne Robinson. And I agree with Ros about Persuasion, and let’s not forget the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle Pride and Prejudice (as opposed to the 1940 version with Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier).
For the most part I either read the book or see the movie. I have images in my head from a book that a movie version can never match.
Loved the LOTR films so much, but I have had problems with The Hobbit, I was philosophical about the first film, and allowed for the inflation of everything and liked it as something from the LOTR universe, but my equanimity slipped when just this week I tried part 2 on Netflix. This time I was driven to rant at the screen in a full bbcqt mode – Legolas intrudes and the cow eyed flirting between wood elf and dwarf annoyed me tremendously. Such a self indulgent effort. Smaug was a big saving grace but at the moment I am still at DNF which I would never have believed possible before.
( I know the film ‘ Pride ‘ isn’t a book adaption but just saw it Wednesday and it was an amazing, funny, fabulous & heartbreaking story connecting a gay rights organisation with the 1980’s miners’ strike. It is broadly based on a true story. Best film for ages. )
I love the Firth/Ehle version of Pride and Prejudice. I also adore the Emma Thompson version of Sense and Sensibility. i have mixed feelings about many of the other Austen adaptations. (And yes I own a large number of them on DVD).
I agree with what Jane and others have said about the Harry Potter films.
I liked the extended versions of The Lord of the Rings films but haven’t bothered to watch the Hobbit ones yet. I rather resent them splitting the relatively short book onto the same number of films as LOTR.
As for Silence of the Lambs, I pretend the sequel (both book and movie) does not exist.
I thought the film version of Shining Through was better than the book.
And though the book was better I have a soft spot for the mini-series adaptation of If Tomorrow Comes. Same with The Thorn Birds.
@susan: I didn’t realize Housekeeping was a book until much later. I loved the movie.
I didn’t think I had a favorite but I do. I thought The Thorn Birds TV series was much better than the book. I saw the series first and then read the book.
One of my favorite book to movie adaptaions is the 1981 mini-series of A Town Like Alice with Bryan Brown. Unfortunately it’s never been released on DVD, but it’s still available on VHS.
@Keishon: I think a lot of the 70s/80s miniseries were often better than the books (Rich Man, Poor Man; Kane and Abel; Captains and the Kings) because the books were great stories but not terribly well written.
I think Housekeeping is a fantastic movie. But the book is so special because of the way Robinson writes. I think that’s true with any truly brilliant and/or brilliantly-executed book. You cannot translate the reading experience to the screen, but you can provide a different kind of wonderful experience.
@Raine: You’re right, Pride is fabulous , and as someone who was growing up in South Wales during that era,it’s absolutely spot on. But, if you liked Pride, you might also like What We Did On Our Holiday. It’s the same team behind Outnumbered, so the kids are pretty much ad libbing throughout (as are some of the adults) .I laughed & cried & it was so NOT what I was expecting. Plus it’s got David Tennent,Billy Connelly & Ben Miller in it … it’s ace .
Previously mentioned movies from books that I also loved are A Room with a View and Shawshank Redemption. Love those two. And they’re both a case of me seeing the movie before reading the book and loving them both but liking the movie a bit more.
I think I’m in the minority of LOTR fans who hate the Peter Jackson adaptations. I will never forgive him for butchering Faramir’s character. My favorite characters in the books are Eowyn and Faramir, and I adore their romance, so the movies were frustrating and disappointing.
@Kati: I will offer an even rarer preference for the original 1980 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice! The production values are not anywhere near the level of the 1995 version or the Keira Knightley movie, but it’s very true to the book, and Elizabeth Garvey will always be the quintessential Elizabeth Bennett for me. I suspect part of my preference may also stem from the fact that it was the first adaptation of P&P that I ever saw.
One book/movie pair that I love that is not as well known as others is Laura. I saw the movie first without knowing anything about the story, and I found it completely amazing and enthralling. I then read Vera Caspary’s book and loved it. I could rewatch and reread both endlessly.
Kati, count me as another who slightly prefers the Keira Knightley version of P&P over the BBC version. I like the earlier grittier setting and Matthew McFadyen plays the Darcy like no one has before…with a shyness and social anxiety that gets mistaken for arrogance, yet he is still a force to be reckoned with…and Donlad Sutherland is a dream as Mr. Bennett…can’t wait to see how Matthew Rhys is as Darcy this weekend as Death Comes to Pemberley.
Back on topic, I loved the books of One Day and Time Traveller’s Wife, but have mixed feelings about their movies. Definitely like the LOTR better in film, though the Hobbit was better as a story the way it was, without the Jackson fanboying.
I thought The Duchess was an interesting and entertaining adaptation of the great non-fiction biography by Amanda Foreman.
Jude the Obscure is one of my favorite book to movie adaptations…it’s dark subject matter, but it’s one of my favorite books (and films) of all time.
Charlotte Gray was also a great book to movie adaptation.
Wow, If Tomorrow Comes, the Sidney Sheldon mini-series. Blast from the past. I remember reading his books when I was way too young to be doing so. Now I need to find a copy of the mini-series! I always loved the North and South mini-series, too.
Outlander is the absolute best adaptation. The runner up would be Pride and Prejudice with Kiera Knightly.
Oh what a great topic. I mostly tear my hair out when I watch my favorite books being adapted to screen unfortunately. “Three musketeers” for example – dear god, no, just now. There was one french (?) I think in the seventies which I liked. Somebody mentioned 1973/74 version, not sure if this is the same, will check will get home. Everything else – oh how very terrible as far as I am concerned. “The Count of Monte Christo”? Do not even get me started, just don’t :(. Ironically the best, closest to the book adaptation of “Count Monte Christo” that I watched was japanese anime, which title I forgot. Seriously, so awesome.
I do not mind when the movie does not show everything – very often it is not possible and understandably so. But I absolutely mind a great deal, when movie becomes a new story. If I want to watch a completely new story, I will go and watch something which does not say adaptation on it
I guess I also enjoyed Firth’s version of “Pride and prejudice”.
Harry Potter’s movies eh, I took them all as an illustrated guide to the books, nothing more than that and I am a huge fan of the books. My favorite actually was “prisoner of azkaban” even though a lot of my beloved parts were taken out. I felt that the director kept with the spirit of the book in it.
Also forgot to mention how much I love the Mansfield Park adaptation with Jonny Lee Miller. I love the introduction of historical context and extra Austen content. It enhanced the somewhat soggy plot and the visuals are gorgeous. Plus James Purefoy as the tortured older brother devastated by his father’s abuse of slaves in the West Indies…there’s the story I wanted more of…
Memoirs of a Geisha. The movie was just visually stunning. I drug my 21 year old son with me in retaliation for all the Super hero movies I sat through with him and he actually sighed when the lights came up, turned to me and said, “That was beautiful.” I read the book a few years before the movie came out and then reread it after I saw the movie. I think it is one film that I actually liked better than the book. I usually hate film adaptions and avoid them whenever possible. Usually reading the book is a much richer experience for me because the process is much more interactive for me.
@Sunita: Yes! What works well on screen isn’t great writing, rich characterisation, and all the other things which make a book so wonderful. Very often, it’s books that aren’t all that well-written which do translate into wonderful film/TV experiences. And if it’s a book which isn’t well-known or loved, then the director has the freedom to do whatever’s needed to make it a great film. The problem with books we love is that we love them as books, but faithful re-tellings of books don’t usually make for great films.
Having said that, I’ll throw another one into the mix for a film I enjoyed* as much as the book: Atonement.
*For a value of enjoyed which = sobbed continuously for two hours.
My favourite book of all time is The World According to Garp. The movie is also wonderful. I think it really shows how to adapt a book well – not everything is the same as the book but it is really a good movie in its own right. Robin Williams is wonderful, but Glenn Close is perfect as his mother, and John Lithgow made me a fan for life in his role as Roberta Muldoon.
@GeriUpNorth I second your recommendation for the TV adaptation of A Town Like Alice. The movie version was not as good. It has been so long that I cannot remember how faithful it is to the book, but boy Bryan Brown and Helen Morse were just perfect.
@Kim T.: Noooo! I was just about to comment how much I loathe that verson of MP. I think the insertion of episodes from Austen’s life into Fanny’s story makes a nonsense of her character. In particular, when she accepts and then later rejects Henry Crawford, she loses her role as the strong, unchanging, unflinching moral centre of the book. But then, Frances O’Connor completely fails to convey that anyway. The only thing I did like was the casting of Lindsay Duncan as both Lady Bertram and Mrs Price. I thought that was clever.
Sunita, do you think I will like “The last of the mohikans”? I read all five books when I was a kid, but never saw the movie.
“The man in iron mask” made me laugh when I saw it, but maybe I should watch it now years later and see what I think.
@Sirius: Yes. It’s absolutely swoonworthy and beautiful and not nearly as racist as the books. Not completely OK, but better.
Iron Mask makes me laugh too. But I love it. It’s so over the top. But the romance between D’Artagnan and Queen Anne is lovely to watch. And Peter Sarsgaard (Raoul) doing his best impersonation of a young John Malkovich (Athos) is a hoot.
Raine, oh yes LOTR I loved the movies too, so for me it was a very good adaptation. Hobbit, eh, what you told me was enough for me to not want to see it, frankly.
So glad “Pride” worked for you, that means it will work for me too :).
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskel.
It was made into 4-part miniseries for BBC with Richard Armitage and Daniela Danby-Ashe. Music was amazing, and Armitage was so good as Thornton I don’t think it should be remade ever again. He is John Thornton.
The Enchanted April: I thought the book was pretty good. It was written by Elizabeth Arnim in 1922. I think I read it because it was in the “free to a good home” pile at a local library in the 1980s. The 1992 movie, OTOH, was just lovely — beautifully filmed and well-acted.
For the most part I prefer the book over the movie version. However, The Notebook is one exception to that rule. I adored the movie and cried rivers at the ending. The book was not as compelling. Jane, I agree with you about Sam Heughan making a better ‘Christian Grey’. He even has the auburn hair that is attributed to the character. Thanks for the picture. I just like looking at him. :)
Sunita thanks! Oh I have thought of another book which I love and every adaptation of which I hated . “Mysterious Island” by Jules Verne – if anybody saw the one that they liked, please let me know :)
Perhaps not my absolute favorite, but something I haven’t seen mentioned yet – “The Outisder” starring Tim Daly and Naomi Watts, based on Penelope Williamson’s novel. This is how genre romance should be brought to the screen…
*Outsider, of course, arrgh.
@Cate: thanks for the rec- you had me at David Tennant!
I haven’t cried at the flicks for years, but ‘Pride’ left me wet eyed and grinning.
@Andrea D: I am a huge fan of the earlier BBC Pride and Prejudice and of Elizabeth Garvey as Elizabeth. She was totally perfect. David Rintoul is a bit too rigid as Darcy, perhaps. However, even though I really like the actor who played Darcy opposite Keira Knightley in the movie, he was perhaps not distant and rigid enough.
Bottom line is that I own the BBC version, the Firth/Ehle version and the movie, and there are things I love about all of them.
Anyone have a good adaptation of Austen’s Emma to recommend? I disliked the Gwyneth Paltrow version intensely.
@Sunita: True. Housekeeping by Robinson has been on sale twice! and I keep missing it. I really want to read the book. Are other Robinson books worth reading?
One fun thing with Last of the Mohicans is to watch it in tandem with A Room with a View and compare the Daniel Day Lewis roles. :D
@JacquiC: Isn’t she great? I do enjoy the other versions too, but I felt like Garvey captured Elizabeth’s archness and wit the best.
I rather liked the recent BBC version of Emma with Romola Garai and Johnny Lee Miller.
I absolutely love the movie adaptation of Como Agua Para Chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate).
My mother–who’s more than a bit of a snob and won’t read romances because trash, dontchaknow–had to eat her words a bit when I had her watch Sense and Sensibility.
And we–my mother, my entire family and I–love Gerard Depardieu in the French miniseries of The Count of Montecrito
@Keishon: I agree with you on the the TV adaptation of the Thorn Birds being better than the book. I thought that most of the TV miniseries adaptations of the late 70s and early 80s were better than the books (the TV version of John Jakes’ North and South was much, much better IMO than the novel as was the adaptation of Clavell’s Shogun).
I really, really liked the adaptation of Anne of Green Gables. Kevin Sullivan did a fantastic job of capturing the story and to me Megan Follows “was” Anne. I loved both the book and the miniseries. I also really liked the LOTR movies. I thought that Jackson did a great job capturing the essence of the stories and translating them to film. Had he stayed completely true to the books, the movies would have been IMO deadly boring. I am enjoying the Hobbit, but in my mind I have divorced it to a large degree from the book. As movies, I think that they are quite good. Both Game of Thrones and Outlander are IMO great adaptations of the books. Diana Gabaldon had a really great post about a week or so ago explaining the difference in the necessary thought process between the conceptualization of the book and of the movie.
My least favourite adaptation of a book was Jurasic Park. If I had not read the book, I think that I would have enjoyed the movie; however, having read the book, the movie felt completely flat to me.
@JacquiC: The Kate Beckinsdale version is very good.It’s the one time I’ve managed to watch/listen or read Emma without wanting to do Emma a serious injury. That,however,might be because I’d just seen KB as Flora Poste in Cold Comfort Farm ( another great BBC adaptation), and Emma & Flora have a great deal in common……but Flora’s a much nicer character.
My favorite book adaption is the BBC series Sherlock, I love the way they modernized the stories and characters.
The movie Little women with Winona Ryder got me to read the book, so that’s great.
Lammie’s comment about the World according to Garp got me thinking about the Cider house rules.
I absolutely loved that book, hated the movie with a passion.
And I agree that the recent BBC version of Emma (with Romola Garai) was quite good.
LotR is the first one that comes to mind, but I’m less thrilled with The Hobbit. With the stuff from the appendixes (appendices?) you could maybe stretch it to two movies without feeling too padded, but not three.
I was so disappointed by the Harry Potter movies that I’ve never watched beyond the third one. For me I think the main issues were the pacing, it never felt like an entire school year had passed, and the actors playing the main roles weren’t really good enough to carry the films.
I also couldn’t make it through the first episode of the adaptation of The Strain.
@JacquiC: The recent one starring Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller was pretty good.
What a fantastic idea for a post!
I agree with so many of you about Anne of Green Gables, Persuasion, The Forsythe Saga (brilliant), Sense and Sensibility (my comfort movie) and the BBC Pride and Prejudice. The World According to Garp is a wonderful film/book….it just might be the best adaptation mentioned.
@Kati: I think the Kiera Knightley P&P’s cinematography and art direction was one of the best ever. The casting is brilliant……absolutely brilliant, but the film went downhill for me when Elizabeth went to Pemberley. The last quarter of the film was too modern, especially the ending. But….I’ve watched it multiple times. :)
My best adaptations: Sally Potter’s film Orlando by Virginia Woolf. Room with a View was the beginning of my love affair with all things Edwardian. Cold Comfort Farm was a terrific adaptation of Stella Gibbons’ novel.
BBC/PBS miniseries: Daniel Deronda , Emma, Wives and Daughters and Middlemarch. I also liked the film adaptation of The Hours by Michael Cunningham better than the book, which almost never happens to me. I loved the Jewel in the Crown which is the film adaptation of Paul Scott’s Raj Quartet. Oh and Morse….the Inspector Morse series were excellent television.
Bad adaptations of good books to film: A.S. Byatt’s Possesion (the worst), The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera (a beautiful novel). Emma with Gwenyth Paltrow and The Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut (just awful).
Thank you for the post!
Forgot to mention, I know I’m in the minority, but I did not like Game of Thrones. I spent the first few episodes saying “where the hell are the dire wolves?”, facepalming at some of the changes, and getting frustrated because almost no one looked the way I pictured them while reading the books.
I don’t know that I have any suggestions that others haven’t already mentioned.
A Room With a View: Completely obsessed with the Merchant/Ivory version. I went on to read the book in college and it was very good but the movie is just special. It’s singlehandedly responsible for my obsession with Italy.
Anne of Green Gables: I LOVELOVELOVE the tv adaptation starring Megan Followes! It’s what got me to read all the books which I also loved. I was in college and in the middle of exam week when I discovered it on tv. It was complete torture to turn off the tv in order to study but as soon as exams were over, I ran to the library, got all the books and read them all as fast as I could.
Persuasion: The Hinds/Root version is perfection. I LOVELOVELOVE both the book and the movie. I think I read the book after the movie, loved it, and loved the movie even more.
Pride and Prejudice: I think the BBC adaptation is the best one of the bunch. I think I’ve seen all the others and this version was the most complete and least number of liberties with the original text.
I love Richard Lester’s Three Musketeers films. The casting is terrific, the fight choreography is a brutal counterpoint to the rich production design and George MacDonald Fraser’s scripts are full of memorable dialogue.
Lester and Fraser had wanted to collaborate to bring Flashman to the screen, but the rights to the first book were tied up so they adapted Royal Flash instead. The casting–Malcolm McDowell as Flashman–never worked for me, and since the plot is largely a send-up of The Prisoner of Zenda it felt off to introduce a character who had taken on a life of his own, outside his School Days origins, through the plot of yet another literary property.
@Azteclady: Like Water for Chocolate is a great film adaptation of a beautiful book!
As others have already mentioned, I thought the film adaptations of The Hunger Games, The Godfather, and The Green Mile were masterfully done.
I have to mention Little Women (1994), with Winona Ryder as the fiery, ink-stained Jo, Susan Sarandon as Marmee , Christian Bale as Laurie, and Claire Danes as the brave, doomed Beth. That scene where Beth dies? Kick me in the stomach. Just kick me already. Do it.
Utterly, utterly gorgeous.
My favorite adaptation of Emma is Clueless. It’s not traditional, but I feel like it captures the spirit of the book better than the period dramas.
Reading this, I realize that I don’t often see the movie and read the book – I tend to avoid movies of books I love. But I will sometimes read a book after watching the movie.
Having said that, I really loved the movie version of Where The Wild Things Are. Wow.
I like both the book and movie versions of a The Princess Bride, and I think the movie holds up better than the book.
@Andrea D – my brother and sister in law agree with you! They’re big fans of LoTR but hated the Peter Jackson movies – especially the first one, because the movie didn’t capture the tone of the book and just turned it into a blasted action movie. (This is more or less a direct quote – I don’t have an opinion since I couldn’t get through The Fellowship of the Ring, although I tried to read it three times)
“I think I’m in the minority of LOTR fans who hate the Peter Jackson adaptations. I will never forgive him for butchering Faramir’s character. My favorite characters in the books are Eowyn and Faramir, and I adore their romance, so the movies were frustrating and disappointing.”
I COMPLETELY AGREE!
When Eowyn slays the Nazgul…..I die everytime! The Return of the King is under my bed, so that when I feel low or can’t sleep I read the chapter The Steward and the King. Awesome stuff. I hated what Jackson did to Faramir and don’t get me started on Arwen. I hated the the LOTR films.
Michael Mann’s version of LAST OF THE MOHICANS brought me to the theater an unprecedented seven times when it was released. But, honestly, it was Daniel Day Lewis as Hawkeye/Natty Bumpo/Long Rifle who stole my heart forever. The book–ugh–was the equivalent of trying to wade through unpleasant peanut butter.
I’m firmly in the minority with Kati on P&P, in that I like the Keira Knightley version best too. I’ve adored the LOTR adaptations, along with Harry Potter. I admit I haven’t read the Game of Thrones books because I don’t have the patience for them, but the show is a favorite.
I will add that I love The Notebook, but it has been the only Nicholas Sparks book-to-movie adaptation that I’ve enjoyed. I read Nights in Rodanthe, which was so-so, the movie version just awful.
More recently, I was eagerly anticipating the big screen version of Gone Girl. (I loved the book!) The movie delivered, thanks to a stellar cast, great directing, the perfect soundtrack, and the fact that Gillian Flynn also penned the screenplay.
I’m surprised no one has mentioned any adaptations of JANE EYRE. My personal favourites of the many iterations are the 2006 version with Ruth Wilson & Toby Stephens, and the 1983 version with Zelah Clarke & Timothy Dalton. The 1983 is VERY faithful to the book, but often misses the mark in interpreting Jane’s and Rochester’s personalities (though Dalton is fantastically Vulcan-like), while the 2006 is a fantastic capture of the personalities, but not as strict an adaptation of the book.
Chalk me up as another who adored the ANNE OF GREEN GABLES series. I tolerated the follow-up series which mish-mashed stuff from several of the sequel books without egregiously making crap up, but utterly detested “The Continuing Story” which was appallingly bad. And apparently there’s a fourth one, which: OH HELL NO.
I also find The Princess Bride movie utterly charming and could watch it endlessly. I agree with what many others have listed. I feel a Netflix binge coming on to revisit some old faves and catch up on ones I have missed like The Forsythe Saga.
Other movie adaptations I enjoyed (and which I may stand alone on) include The Help (loved how those women were brought to life…some really amazing performances) and Baz Luhrmann’s OOT The Great Gatsby. I’m not the biggest fan of Leo but I thought he did a decent job of being the hapless Jay Gatsby and Luhrmann’s cinematic carnival fits the story.
I couldn’t figure out how Gone Girl would ever make a good movie but I thought it turned out pretty good and captures the essence of the book (probably helped by the fact that Gillian Flynn also wrote the screenplay).
@cayenne: Now that you’ve said Toby Stephens, I have to mention the wonderful version of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall with Stephens and Tara Fitzgerald. If I hadn’t watched that, I might never have read the book, and that would have been too awful to bear thinking about.
@Andrea D: A friend recently convinced me to watch the Walking Dead. To recover from the trauma of that, I watched every Jane Austen adaption I could find on Amazon Video. I loved the 1980 version–Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul were perfect in their parts. I watched that one multiple times over.
@GeriUpNorth: I remember watching and loving A Town Like Alice when it aired more than 30 years ago. Unable to find a DVD or streaming version, I decided to content myself with re-reading the book and was shocked at the casual racism. I’d previously only read a Reader’s Digest Condensed Version, so a lot of that had been edited out. I’m a little nervous about how I might feel about a re-watch if I ever get the chance.
By the way, on IMDB, someone mentioned getting a DVD version of the mini-series from a company called Santa Flix and they do seem to have a Region 1 version available for purchase. http://www.santaflix.com/tolial1mi.html
Has anyone mentioned L.A. Confidential? I adored that movie (need to watch it again) so much that I tried to read the book, and it wasn’t my thing. But the movie was terrific.
Atom Egoyan’s adaptation of The Sweet Hereafter, very dark but really good.
And the movie of The Ice Storm, so so good, and again, really dark.
All three of the movies I just mentioned came out in 1997, which was a great year for movies. I think of it as a last hurrah before a downward slope in cinema that fits my taste.
This is play to film, but I also loved the 1990 French film of Cyrano de Bergerac with Gerard Deprardieu and Anne Brochet. So tragic and sad I must have cried a bucket of tears at the end.
My taste in movies is different than my taste in books, I can tolerate a lot more tragedy and sorrow on screen than in the pages of a book. I would not recommend The Sweet Hereafter, The Ice Storm or Cyrano de Bergerac to a viewer looking for happy endings. LA Confidential does have a happy ending, but it’s one that comes at a cost.
Probably the sunniest book-to-film adaptation I recall loving was the Merchant-Ivory production of A Room with a View, which I loved as a teen. I loved it enough to read the book. However, I watched it again a few years ago and it didn’t hold up for me. Too much focus on the romance, at the expense of some of the other great themes in that book.
@leslie & azteclady: Like Water for Chocolate was another good one. Romantic and sad. I loved the magical realism with the food, and my husband still quotes the line about how the secret ingredient is that it was made with love.
@leslie: I agree that the Possession adaptation was horrible. Most of the actors were miscast (Aaron Eckhart as Roland, really?), Val was cut out completely, the beautiful poetry and fairy tales gone, what was the point of adapting it for the screen? — Janine, Still Annoyed
My favorites have already been said – Anne of Green Gables and the Amanda Root Persuasion. I think the LOTR films are incredibly powerful, and they visually look so close to how I imagined the story that it’s almost miraculous. Like others, a few things drive me crazy about them–primarily what they did to Arwen and to Faramir–and they tip the scale too far with Tolkien’s thematic balance of free will and providence. But I can still watch the films over and over again.
Two of my favorite books with no satisfying movie versions–Jane Eyre and Little Women. I do think there are problems with all of the adaptations, but it may be partly because I love the books too much to be satisfied with anything. But I love LOTR nearly as much, and I’m close to satisfied with the Peter Jackson films.
And I love Clueless as an adaptation of Emma.
@jody: I missed your comment about Poirot earlier, but, Yes! David Suchet is perfect as Poirot. I liked the earlier episodes better than the recent releases. They started doing some weird things with the stories. The Suchet version of Murder on the Orient Express is not my favorite. But it still makes me sad to think that we are fast approaching Curtain.
@cleo: OMG. I love Clueless! Can’t believe I forgot that as far as Emma adaptations. By far my favorite. Re. LOTR, I understand not being able to get into FOTR. I much prefer the last two books.
@mel burns: That too is one of my favorite scenes! Eowyn slaying the Nazgul, Faramir with Frodo and Sam, the Houses of Healing. (Happy sigh.) I can’t bear what Jackson did to lovely, wise, kind Faramir, who (paraphrased) would not pick up the ring if it were lying by the side of the road. The character in the movie was unrecognizable.
I thought the film adaptations of Kazuo Ishiguro books were amazing – Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go – albeit, depressing.
The animated version of Watership Down is also a favorite.
I thought the film adaptations of Kazuo Ishiguro books were amazing – Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go – albeit, depressing.
The animated versions of Watership Down and The Secret of NIMH are also a favorites!
Was Mansfield Park with Jonny Lee Miller and Frances O’Connor mentioned yet? I loved that movie. Admittedly, I haven’t read the book, but loved that particular film version.
I think I’m in the minority in that I actually enjoyed the cheesy fantastic-ness that was the Mortal Instruments movie. It made me go pick up the book series, which I glommed like whoah.
@KatieF: I have taken advantage of the availability of it on Amazon streaming many times. :) Rintoul isn’t as dreamy as Firth or MacFadyen, but he works in that production. Garvie is really the one who makes that version special for me.
@Janine: I love LA Confidential. Kevin Spacey blows me away in it. I’ve never read the book, though, and I think I tend to forget that it was a book first. Re. A Room with a View, I do love the book, but I think the happier ending of the movie really worked for me. The book leaves me a little melancholy, which isn’t bad, but I do love HEAs.
@Andrea D: The ending of the movie is heartwarming and sweet. I first read the book after seeing the movie and I was initially taken aback that the ending was somewhat different. I think the book ending would have been hard to successfully convey on film but I love the idea that Charlotte helped them in secret but this can never be acknowledged. There’s something so true to life about that, and the fact Lucy and George’s happiness requires sacrifice in the book makes it feel more real to me.
I don’t have anything new to add in regards to my favorites, but has anyone else read the Shannara trilogy by Terry Brooks? These books were my “gateway” to fantasy back in junior high. They are beloved to me and they’re being adapted for television for…MTV. I’m scared!
I agree with North and South. Also Centennial which was epic. Thorn Birds I had read years before the mini series when I was about 13 or 14 so I enjoyed seeing that adaptation as a 19/20 year old.
One of my favorites was a Julie Garwood book that I adored. It was such a sweet story. “For the Roses” that was made into a television movie called “Rose Hill” it had SO many differences from the book but it was still a good movie that was almost recognizable as the story in the book. If nothing else it was fun to watch and yell about the differences lol. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117515/
I love how you’ve jogged my memory of my life’s enjoyments on the small and big screen, because I can’t be bothered with the visual much these days, except for the occasional movie. Sometimes if I have loved a book (Time Travellers Wife) I won’t risk the movie adaptation. And sometimes the reverse – I saw Watership Down as a kid, and it left a remarkable impression – to this day I remember I had nightmares for a week, so I never bothered to read it, because I don’t think I wanted to be de-sensitised to that experience. I’m gearing up to read it to my kids, so expect that life long sense of impending doom to be lost. Last of the Mohicans was the same, when I’m home alone, this is probably the movie I will choose to indulge myself with.
My biggest disappointment was the Sookie Stackhouse books – I read them from the earliest days because I think I’d read the Lily Shakespeare ones first – must have been about 5, 6 or 7 in before the TV programme started. I was really excited and then it was all about Jason and the sex he was having and I was all WTF! and gave up the programme pretty quick (and then the books of course).
I’d really like to see some more adaptations of Oscar Wilde. We can’t seem to get the dvd versions of any of them, so I can only recall seeing odd ones (with Minny Driver, Rupert Everett, etc) once, and have them mixed up in my head and because the jokes are Oscar’s, the jokes are funny, but I don’t have enough recall to know if the adaptations were good. I can get a few recorded ones on audio from the library and they have been fun, but its nice to have the context and costumes too.
It’s so cool to see that some other folks know about Housekeeping! I have a VHS of it, but no way to play it, and I *miss* that movie (Netflix doesn’t have it, either). I love Brokeback Mountain, too. I read the short story after I saw the movie, and they’re both brilliant.
The Anne of Green Gables movie was everything that the horrible, horrible Little House on the Prairie series should have been and wasn’t. Richard Farnsworth was so wonderful as Matthew, and did you know that the fellow who played the definitive Gilbert Blythe was once a stand-up comedian? I loved the Winona Ryder version of Little Women, except that to me Claire Danes looks more like Jo and Winona Ryder looks more like Beth. But other than that, it’s brilliant, anachronistic Marmee and all.
Agree with most everyone else about LotR (yes) and The Hobbit (no).
Do Shakespeare adaptations count? There was a period in my life where I was watching Kenneth Branagh’s version of Much Ado About Nothing once a week whether I needed to or not, and I love all of his versions of Shakespeare, along with the Ian McKellen Richard III and the Twelfth Night with Imogen Stubbs and Helena Bonham Carter.
Worst adaptation ever, even though Branagh is my alltime favorite actor — Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, with Robert DeNiro as the Creature. Dear godlings, it was so over the top it was falling off the other side and landing on its head.
@RayC: The Minnie Driver/Rupert Everett film you’re thinking of is An Ideal Husband and it’s excellent.
I have to say Outlander has filled a hole in my soul since network television stopped doing adapting novels into miniseries like they did in the late 70s and early 80s. The Thorn Birds, Lace, Crossings, Princess Daisy, The Winds of War, North and South, so on and so forth. I realize many of those produced were considered epic sagas and not just straight up romances, but it was these miniseries that turned me on to reading romance as a teen.
@RayC totally agree about the Sookie Stackhouse series – the books were fantastic, and the show is something else entirely. I’m still not convinced about Anna Paquin, although I do like the actor they case for Eric Northman.
“An Ideal Husband” is a great film adaptation, agreed!
“I love Jane Austen’s Persuasion (the one with Ciaran Hinds).”
For me it’s the one with Rupert Penry-Jones, because he has that wonderful mixture of hautiness and vulnerability, and Sally Hawkins is perfect to play the once was pretty, now is plain Anne Elliot, because she blooms with love so convincingly.
I agree about The Princess Bride. The book is clever as are all William Goldman’s novels, but it’s rather cynical, whereas the movie is pure fantasy and fun. Both excellent pieces of art. but with very different moods.
Count me as another one who loved the film of An Ideal Husband.
@Andrea D: Ooh – so agree about David Suchet. We have had Curtain transmitted, I think it was in March. I hadn’t read the book but knew it was the last one. Interestingly Suchet filmed Curtain before one of the other stories as he didn’t want to finish acting Poirot with Curtain.
It’s been said already on this thread, but I think the Merchant Ivory productions of “A Room With A View,” “Howard’s End” and “The Remains Of The Day” were all first rate movie versions of memorable books. And more recently, I thought that Gillian Flynn’s screenplay for “Gone Girl” made an enormous difference in transferring her story from book to film with an organic fluidity that is missing with many adaptations.
I agree with you that the 1985 version of “Anne of Green Gables” starring Megan Fellows was marvelous. In fact, the relationship between Anne and Gilbert in the sequel, “Anne of Avonlea,” was the first love story that really stirred my heart.
“I don’t want diamond sunbursts, or marble halls. I just want you.”
“Anne, there’s not going to be any wedding anymore…I called it off. It wouldn’t be fair to Christine. There would never be anyone for me but you.”
I re-wound the VHS tape over and over again until it wore out and those scenes were scratchy.
And now I’m off to You Tube to find them again. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.
Janine I loved “An ideal husband” too. I guess when my memory is refreshed I do remember some adaptations I enjoyed :)
Here is the You Tube link to the best bits. LOVE.
Whatever you do .Do Not watch the final Anne of Green Gables film, which stars Barbara Hershey as Anne…… I was completely traumatised, it’s truly awful.
I forgot to mention Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day which is such a charming movie and book. I saw the movie first, then read the book, both are wonderful!
Oh! I haven’t read the book but the movie adaptation of Cold Comfort Farm was a wonderful comedy.
@Ros: I’m in total agreement with you about ‘The Dark is Rising’. I think I was gobsmacked the entire movie. Nothing like awesomeness of the book at all.
I hated the Mansfield Park adaptation with Frances O’Connor. It is nothing like the book.
I think the best version was the 1983 mini-series with Sylvestra Le Touzel as Fanny. She gives Fanny the quiet strength and sense of honor which define her character.
There is a lot to like the the 80s adaptations which come in the box set, The production values aren’t as strong as later adaptations, but I love many of the perfomances.
The Emma Garai/Jonny Lee Miller version of Emma is my favorite, though I understand the issues many have with it. I think it makes Emma’s motivations very understandable and it is the only version where I think Jane might end up being happy with Frank.
I also enjoyed the most recent Persuasion adaptation with Rupert Penry-Jones despite the way the butchered the scene with the letter. It’s such a shame so many needed scenes were cut when it aired on PBS/Masterpiece.
I’ll add the Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation of The Secret Garden, despite the unnecessary addition of adult Mary and adult Colin at the end (even if adult Colin was played by Colin Firth).
I am a huge fan of the Firth/Ehle version of Pride and Prejudice. HUGE. Not just for the drenched Darcy scene either. David Suchet as Poroit is another major win for me.
I really enjoyed LoTR, but was incredibly disappointed that the final scene when Frodo and Sam return to a devastated Shire was left out.
I absolutely hate the Sookie Stackhouse TV series adaption with the power of 1000 fiery suns. I actually stopped reading the books because of it. It just put me off entirely.
Has anyone mentioned the Gregory Peck version of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’? I remember watching a whole heap of films at school after reading the books that were very true to the books like the 1939 ‘Of Mice and Men’, the 1963 ‘Lord of the Flies’ and the terrifying Terrence Stamp in the 1965 ‘The Collector’. I still remember him in this role to this day. Very, very scary.
LOTR are my favourite adaptions. The Hobbit is my favourite book of the series but I am not impressed with the first 2 movies(don’t get me started about making it into a trilogy!) I love Anne of Green Gables tv series. I’ve read The Last of The Mohicans and watched the movie & I agree with a couple of commenters, I think the movie is better. I have read the entire Harry Potter but only truly loved the last two movies. YA does seem to suffer from bad adaptions. Having a teenage daughter means I have suffered through Twilight, Mortal Instrument and the awful, cringeworthy Vampie Academy. Oh and “Tomorrow When the War Began”. I liked Divergent & Hunger Games.
@Kris: I really liked the Sinese/Malkovich version of “Of Mice and Men”, but having never read the book, I can’t compare.
Too many folks have already mentioned other favorites. I’m in the BBC “Pride and Prejudice” version camp. I liked what McFadden did with Darcy – that scene where he comes tramping through the morning sunlight was gorgeous – but I hated Knightly. She was just a shrill witch…I never understood what Darcy was supposed to have seen in her.
One of my favorite (non-romance) books is “Mystic River”. There’s so much going on in the hearts and minds of the main characters – I thought it was incredibly moving. The movie, on the other hand, was just a very dark (and I mean that literally as well as figuratively) thriller. I was horribly disappointed (although to be fair, I expected to be – I’ve never been able to see Pean as anything but an empty-headed surfer dude.
Jane Eyre-the Timothy Dalton version. Loved Somewhere in Time. Also the Agatha Christie Poirot movies-David Suchet is perfect.
I saw the Merle Oberon, Lawrence Olivier adaptation of Wuthering Heights when I was in middle school and loved it with all my adolescent heart. Then I read the book and thought “these people are awful”. All the romance and heartbreak I was looking forward to, nope! It was a sad and bitter disappointment.
Thought of another – Devil in a Blue Dress. Both the book and movie are excellent.
BBC Pride and Prejudice is one of my all-time favourites, and it’s fun because when I read P&P I read it as satire and not a romance… but the movie most definitely is, and that facet of it is really brought to life.
I’ve REALLY enjoyed the Lizzy Bennet Diaries, Emma Approved, and now Frankenstein MD on Youtube — Lizzy Bennet especially was fabulous except for a hitch here or there, and now that they’re all out it’s nice to be able to binge-watch them. Frankenstein MD is just adorable.
Arachnaphobia. Don’t read the book — not because it’s bad, but because it adds even more scariness to the movie. I was not afraid of spiders until I read that book, augh.
I really like the Earthsea movies that were adapted by Studio Ghibli, although making everyone look the same lost a lot of the appeal the book had for me. Still, dragons!
The 1990 French production of Cyrano de Bergerac with Gerard Depardieu is one of my favourite book to movie adaptations. I had/have a huge crush on Depardieu and he was born to play Cyrano. I can still see him gasping out “Mon panache”at the end. Other than that the final LOTR is hard to beat as well as the current GoT TV series.
I have 3 different versions of “Pride & Prejudice” on DVD and there are different aspects of each version that I love so I can never pick one version over the others. I much prefer the Kate Beckinsale version of “Emma” over the Gwyneth Paltrow version.
Like several other commenters, I think David Suchet is perfect as Poirot. I also prefer the Timothy Dalton versions of “Jane Eyre” and “Wuthering Heights”.
I absolutely hated “Rose Hill”, starring Jennifer Garner. Nothing at all like the fabulous For the Roses by Julie Garwood.
@Mandy: I mentioned that Cyrano as well. So heartbreaking!
I adored Anne of Green Gables with Megan Follows and following the making of The Outsiders through Tigerbeat and Teen Beat was seminal to my teenage years :) I think that the Gene Wilder version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one of my favourite film adaptations. I have also become besotted with webseries adaptations. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (Pride and Prejudice) and Nothing Much to Do (Much Ado About Nothing) are great but I am loving Green Gables Fables – Anne Shirley has a vlog and twitter stream and she is adorable.
@Janine: Read the book! It’s hilarious and brilliant.
So many great adaptions are listed on this thread. I guess my number one favorite would be Anne of Green Gables. I adored it so much. Though I do like to pretend that the third one, Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story, doesn’t exist. It was made so many years later and doesn’t really take from the books.
I only watched the Outsiders once when I was a young teen. I remember running to my room sopping and my mother trying to comfort me by say “remember they are only characters and not real people”. She meant well but that didn’t comfort me then and it still wouldn’t today.
Also, The Color Purple, although I wish they hadn’t underplayed the romance between Celie and Shug in the movie.
The one with the serial killer who let a snake crawl into the anus of the girl with the milk was “Kiss the Girls” by James Patterson… That was seriously fucked up.
BBC/Masterpiece Theatre has done some brilliant adaptations. Two of my favorites are Charles Dickens. Our Mutual Friend with very young Anna Friel and Keely Hawes. It is wonderful. I recently watched Little Dorrit with Claire Foyle and Matthew MacFadyen……it is amazing!
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Nobody’s mentioned the one that first springs to my mind: the 1995 version of A Little Princess. It takes a couple of enormous liberties with the story, but I think it works beautifully. But then I tend to buy anything Alfonso Cuaron is selling (Prisoner of Azkaban is the best Harry Potter movie, no debate). His style is maybe a little showy for some people, but it works for me.
In general the adaptations I remember are the ones where I think “No way should this have worked.” Someone upthread mentioned The Unbearable Lightness of Being as an adaptation that didn’t work, but I loved it. It didn’t try to replicate the entire experience of the book, but narrowed its focus to the personal relationships, cast enormously compelling actors (Daniel Day-Lewis, Juliette Binoche, and Lena Olin), and let them go to town. I wish it would show up on Netflix. I’d watch it again right now.
My ultimate shouldn’t-have-worked movie, though, is The Bridges of Madison County. It’s not a great movie, but it sidesteps, or deliberately overturns, every teeth-grinding annoyance that was present in the book – I like to imagine the moviemakers read it and thought “WTF is this garbage?” pretty much like I did, and then fixed it up.
For less-successful adaptations, I agree with everyone else about Possession. And I guess I’m in the minority but I was disappointed by The Remains of the Day. So much of the pleasure of that book was in the narrative voice, and I never got over missing it while watching the movie.
I’m really enjoying Outlander. I think the production is gorgeous and they’re being quite faithful to the book, without slavishly sticking to it.
The Hunt for Red October was an excellent book and an excellent movie but they were very different. I think it shows how an adaptation really is a transformative medium.
I loved the LOTR movies (well, except for the Sam/Frodo bits: yawn) but Aragorn = yay. But I’m not so interested in The Hobbit.
Love Anne of Green Gables, Pride and Prejudice, love the Hinds/Root version of Persuasion, the recent BBC Sherlock, and so many of the movies mentioned above by others.
One of my favourite book-to-movies adaptations, which I don’t *think* has been mentioned already is Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca.
@Cecilia Grant: I totally agree with you about The Remains of the Day. When they were making it, I couldn’t understand why they would want to, because it was such an ‘internal’ book, and movies are so ‘external.’ Of course, I went anyway. But it didn’t pleasantly surprise me.
@cleo: Yes! I 100% agree about Clueless! Its so great.
My suggestion for the worst is Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. What a great book with a horrible movie!!
I can only echo the BBC PP and Anne love otherwise.