Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Page to Screen: Top Literary Adaptations

I'm now finished with my move and down in Long Island. Well, I'm finished with the actual moving part. Packing is still a work in progress. I used to live at the top of a 5th floor walk-up in Boston and amazingly my legs have been unhappy with me since I made them run up and down those stairs to move boxes. Go figure. The fact that I've been hobbling around yesterday and today means packing is going fairly slowly, but I got my "home office" set up so that's something. Anyway...

Another Tuesday, another Top Ten hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic: Top Ten Book to Movie Adaptations. I'll keep this lists to just movies I've seen AND books I've read. There are some great movies I've seen but never read the book (The Godfather), some books I've read but haven't seen the movie (Beloved) and some where I may have read the book and seen the movie but the movie was not anything to write home about (Pet Semetary)

1. The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkein - I did not go into the first of the trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring, excited for the movie. We were looking for something for the whole family to see and my brother picked the movie. I knew of the book but I'd never read it. And much to my surprise, I loved the movie. I went out and read the book and was very meh on it. So I decided to wait before I continued reading the trilogy until I saw the movie. I didn't want to ruin anything for myself. While I loved the movies (even going to the midnight showing of Return of the King) I couldn't make it through the books. I finished Two Towers and started RotK but couldn't make it through.

2. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis - Another movie that I love. It's dark, it's violent, it's satirical and it stars Christian Bale. Again I figured "well I like the movie so much, I should read the book." While I don't agree with censorship, having read it I understand why Australia and NZ sell the book wrapped in plastic. The movie took the main purpose of the book, emphasised the ridiculousness and de-emphasised the cannibalism. The business card scene is my favorite part of the movie.

3. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris - This is a wonderful movie and deserves the accolades it has collected. The book is good and certainly entertaining, but this is another case where the movie surpasses the book, specifically Hopkins' performance as Hannibal Lecter.

4. A Midsummer Night's Dream by Shakespeare - The 1999 movie version with Kevin Kline, Christian Bale (oh hay, look who showed up on the list again) Anna Friel, Stanley Tucci and I could go on and on naming people in it. It's a light-hearted movie and while there are no Oscar-worthy performances, everyone seems comfortable with the language so you can focus on how much fun everyone is having.

5. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby - Sometimes I like both the book and the movie and High Fidelity is one of those times. Relationships and musical snobbery make for a great story with some wonderful characters. There are some changes between the 2 media (the movie takes place in Chicago while the book is in London, a couple characters are dropped from the movie) but the spirit and humor are consistent.

6. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl - I'm talking about the 1971 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie. I loved Roald Dahl's books as a kid. This movie used to terrify me, and I think with good reason. I remember thinking Violet Beauregard when she becomes the blueberry being especially scary. It has a quirky, slightly off center feel the whole time and, once I got over my fears, I found a very fun movie.

7. The Princess Bride by William Goldman - This has been a favorite movie of mine for a long time and when I found out it was based on a book I had to read it. Unlike my literary failures with 1 and 2 on this list, the book is just as fun as the movie. It has a slightly different flavor from the movie, with an extra subplot involving the narrator's dad only reading him "the good parts" of an old European novel satirizing excesses of the royalty. And the relationship between Buttercup and Wesley, while still based on love, is less idealized and involves much more bickering. Writing about this makes me want to go watch the movie now.

8. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton - Another case where a fun movie came out of an entertaining book. It's certainly not Shakespeare but it was a fun summer movie, especially since I love dinosaurs when I was little. So it's a bit cheesy and predictable. Who cares? The lawyer got eaten off the toilet by a T Rex.

9. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll - I haven't seen the newest version that Tim Burton did so I'm referring to the 1951 Disney version. This has been my favorite of the Disney movies since I was little. Like some of the other movies I have on this list, it's an odd story with a lot of fun and beautiful visuals. And the Cheshire Cat is one of my favorite characters. I still think of crescent moons as "Cheshire Cat" moons.

10. The Green Mile by Stephen King - I'm a fan of King's horror stories but is always nice to see something different because he can do non-horror well. The Shawshank Redemption is a good example but since I haven't read the novella, I'll focus on The Green Mile. The movie and the book are both very similar and they both tell a touching story of forgiveness and redemption.

Hey, look at that! I made it to 10. I think this is only the second time I've managed that. Scary stories was my other success, if you're curious. Scary stories and movie adaptations, that's apparently where my interests lay.