Sponsored by The Broke & the Bookish, this week's topic is top ten book-to-movie adaptations. I suspect that this list will be more controversial than most. It's no secret that books have certain advantages over their film versions: namely, the luxury of time to tell the tale properly and the unlimited imagination of the reader. I used to be one of those folks who condemned books-into-movies, ipso facto. Now I don't care as much if the director & screenplay writer aren't true to the letter of the book as long as they are true to the spirit of the book. It's a tremendous bonus if the movies actually give me a new insight into the books. Also, I'm only including books which I've read on this list. So here's my list of books-into-movies where I read the book and LOVED the movie. In no particular order:
|I am not left handed!|
2) Legends of the Fall by Jim Harrison. Best. Novella. Ever. As far as I'm concerned, anyway. Didn't like the film until after I had read the book. Then, boy howdy, I loved it! And no, that love is not actually related to Brad Pitt, though I admit I think it's his best role.
3) The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien. Yes, I do distinguish the first part of the film trilogy as being significantly better than the subsequent two. I emphatically did not like the pointless addition of a battle scene and the mucking around with essence of Faramir's and Boromir's characters from the other two movies.
|Yeah, I'm a Snape fan.|
5) The Godfather by Mario Puzo. Because it's an expected answer. I didn't actually make it all the way through the book, but I read enough for it to qualify in this part of the list instead of in the Honorable Mentions below.
6) The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris. If there's a more chillingly charismatic on-screen villain than Sir Anthony Hopkins's Hannibal Lector, I've not seen the likes of it. Talk about a great cast, raising a book from pulp fiction to something memorable.
7) The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. God bless him for his sense of romance and his ability to publish a book every year while reading 5-6 books per week (yes, I interviewed him once and this is what he said), but a great stylist he ain't. I think this book makes a pretty fine romantic drama, however. This is one of the truly rare cases where the movie is better than the book.
9) The Last of the Mohicans by James Fennimore Cooper. Yes, they're almost unrecognizable as springing from the same source. But it's a fine, fine movie with an excellent soundtrack.
Ooh, but that leaves out Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen, which was wonderful! I had to eliminate all Jane Austen adaptations or else there'd be very little room for other movies. Or the Twilight franchise. (Just kidding--wanted to see if you were paying attention!) I thought this would be a difficult list to compile, but there are actually far more good film versions of books than I can name here.
Honorable mentions for movies I've seen and thought were excellent, but whose antecedents I have not read: The Reader, Casino Royale, The Shawshank Redemption, The Children of Men, Chocolat, Forrest Gump, and The Name of the Rose. There are lots of others, but I think I'll leave it there for now.
What did I leave out? What would you have on your list?