Jan 10

Terrific Tuesday – Best Book to Movie Adaptations

Greetings and salutations!

Today I’m going to talk about some of my favorite book to movie adaptations – just like it says on the tin.  I love books and I love movies, and when the two come together, it touches a chord in me that cannot be duplicated.  I won’t tarry on a long-winded introduction:  let’s get to the meat of the post, shall we?


What makes a book to movie adaptation terrific?  If the movie captures the essence of the book, the characters and offers the same or improved ending from the book.  Mind you, a terrific adaptation doesn’t necessarily mean the movie sticks as close to the book as white on rice, nor does it mean the movie leaves you with a terrific feeling. It just means that as a reader of the book, you’re satisfied with the spirit of the movie.

Here, in no particular order, are my top ten terrific movie adaptations.

We Need to Talk about Kevin – Tilda Swinton can make anything good.  If you haven’t read the book yet, watching the movie gives you a taste of the awful foreboding of the book.  You know something is going to happen, the question is just. when.  This movie will not make you comfortable.

Jurassic Park – Now this movie was a bundle of fun for me.  Yes, the book was a lot more techincal and dense to get through, but the screen writers managed to sprinkle in the genetics along side the breathtaking spectacle of the dinosaurs on scree.  An excellent film that I watch every time it comes on television.

The Godfather – The book was good, but it did include a few side stories that detracted from the main narrative. The movie slashed and burned enough of those side stories and emphasized the family saga.  It helped that the author, Mario Puzo, had a hand in writing the screenplay.

The Silence of the Lambs – What more can be said?  The movie made me read the book, and I wasn’t disappointed.

To Kill a Mockingbird – The actors (Robert Duvall’s first screen role as Boo Radley), made the book come alive.  The only person I missed in the movie was Calpurnia.  Her part in the book seemed to be larger and wittier.

No Country for Old Men – The Coen Brothers helped bring Cormac McCarthy’s story to life. Both movie and book complement each other.

The Remains of the Day – I went to see this in the movies and I did have tears.  Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson really bring Kazou Ishiguro’s story to life.

Wiseguy – I never met a gangster movie I didn’t like.  Re-titled “Goodfellas”, the movie actually improves on the newspaper style reporting of the book and brings the characters to life in blooming color.

The Shining – While I did not care for the character death in movie, I really felt that Kubrick’s adaptation captured the essence (yes, that word again) of the book and the frightening visuals and hidden clues are quite effective.

Requiem for a Dream – This is a film that I never wish to see ever again.  A gut-wrenching odyssey of three separate stories of drug addiction, Requiem for a Dream is a visceral experience that leaves the viewer stunned. The book is a little more “in your face” than the movie is, but both are effective.

Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption – Renamed as The Shawshank Redemption….well, I’m pretty sure that you’ve all heard of the movie, yes?

Into the Wild – Written by Jon Jon Krakauer, who freaked me out with Into Thin Air, about folks climbing Mt. Everest, Into the Wild is the story of a young man who wanted to live off the land in the wilds of Alaska.

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