Saturday, December 12, 2009

Page to Screen

I saw an announcement yesterday that Natalie Portman has been cast as Elizabeth Bennet in the film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a book I haven't read yet, but was recommended by Inker Kirk.

Thinking about film adaptations of novels or other literary works, it seems to me a rarity to find one that can be enjoyed on equal par with the original, so I've started a short list, if you'd like to contribute. I'm only including examples where I read the book and saw the movie. For example, the Lord of the Rings films should probably be here, but I never read the books (I know, a sacrilege).

Good adpatations: BBC's version of Pride & Prejudice; Gone with the Wind; Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone; To Kill a Mockingbird; Bridget Jones' Diary; Romeo & Juliet (both the Zeffirelli and Baz Luhrmann versions); About a Boy; Howard's End; Sense and Sensibility

Bad adaptations: How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Jim Carrey version); Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince (I was disappointed they left out the backstories of Tom Riddle and Snape); Twilight; Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason; Da Vinci Code


  1. Good adaptations: Holes (Louis Sachar), very close to the original because the author got to write the screenplay. I hear the same is happening with Suzanne Collins & The Hunger Games.

    Another good one was Inkheart (Cornelia Funke).

    Here's a separate category: adaptations where the book and movie were both good but completely different: A Good Year (Peter Mayle). The movie had Russel Crowe in it.

    And then of course there's the rare case of The Movie Was Better By Leaps And Bounds: Stardust (Neil Gaiman). Good heavens that book was nowhere near as good as its film!

  2. Some friends and I were just talking about this earlier in the week.

    Good Adaptations: Lord of the Rings(having read and seen them I'll add it for you. note: Faramir's character was botched in the films but otherwise they were great.), Message in a Bottle (Nicholas Sparks), New Moon (Stephenie Meyer). The Princess Diaries (Meg Cabot) Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews make both Princess Diaries movies so much better than the books.

    Bad adaptations: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (JK Rowling) They completely botched the werewolf mythology and look and added inconsistencies that never existed in the novel. grrr.
    Christmas with the Kranks (adapted from John Grisham's Skipping Christmas) The movie just could never be quite as funny as the book.

    Adaptations that were as good but different as Graham pointed out: Ella Enchanted (Gail Carson Levine) Both the movie and the book are delightful and quirky but in completely different ways.

  3. I can't stand watching a movie that in no way stands up to the original book. I know Donna already mentioned one or two of the more annoying ones (Twilight, Harry Potter, etc). The thing is, I can forgive a lot in a movie if it sticks with the feel of the book and characters. For example, the adaptation of The Bourne Identity was great although it doesn't follow the book very much at all. Another personal favorite is Anne of Green Gables...easily one of the best adaptations I've ever seen.

  4. hmm I do enjoy the Anne of Green Gables. I may have to pick that one up . . . since I've run out of Diva's Heyer books.

    I remember seeing Jurassic Park and marveling at the scenery--I hadn't done the setting much justice in my mind. I remember my not so literate boyfriend saying that was the reason movies are better than books.

    I agree with Tart that if it follows the FEEL then it's still decent.

    I really enjoyed The Notebook (Sparks), both the movie and the book. Both had their strengths. The grizzly bearded fellow was delightful (it was a stage in my life) but the pain of the older couple was much better in the book. I cried for them in the book and cried for the younger set in the movie. (Ah grizzly bearded ones) :)

    I agree about most of them, one worth mention is Romeo and Juliet. I love Baz Lurhman's work and even the things he changed (Like the guns) were done with such imagination that I was thrilled.

    Excellent post Blush. Natalie Portman . . .huh.

  5. I think Portman is an obvious choice for this one, since Keira Knightley did the regular version four years ago, and everyone's always comparing them to each other. In fact, they both played in Star Wars Ep 1--Knightley was the Queen when Padme was in disguise.