Some other blogs have had similar themes to this, and I saw another good one recently that has inspired to do the same on my blog. Many of you in this particular community are avid book-readers, and just as many are big fans of film and cinema. In fact, lots of us are both combined, so this should be a post that appeals to most of you.
Ever since they started to make films, adapting popular novels to the screen has been a staple of the film industry. Over the decades, the idea has grown into franchises, and also turned on its head; with novels being released based on films, and graphic novels turned into CGI-heavy blockbusters. For the purposes of this post, I am going to ask you all a question. What is your favourite film adaptation of a book you loved? Don’t worry about those you were disappointed in, that will keep for another post.
To start you off, I am going to offer a selection of my own favourites. Please add your own in the comments, and pick as many or as few as you wish to.
Charles Dickens wrote the novel ‘Great Expectations’ in 1861, around the time of the American Civil War. I read it a long time later of course, in 1963. It is still my favourite of all of his books, and has endured in my affections for over fifty years now.
In 1946, the British film-maker David lean directed the sumptuous black and white adaptation, which I was able to watch soon after I had read the book. He got it completely right, bringing Victorian London to the screen in wonderful detail, and staying true to the marvellous characterisations of Dickens. A top-notch cast was just the icing on the cake, and despite subsequent serialisations, Lean’s film has never been bettered.
It was probably around 1970 that I read Mario Puzo’s epic novel of the Mafia in America, ‘The Godfather’. I was completely engrossed in the lives of the characters, the double-dealing, and lust for power portrayed. I also learned a great deal about organised crime, how it works, and how far its reach extends. This long novel was indeed a modern masterpiece, in my opinion. I couldn’t put it down.
Two years later, I heard that a film adaptation was to be released. I was a little concerned, as I couldn’t imagine how this complex story of crime families would translate to the screen. But I needn’t have worried. Francis Ford Coppola spared no expense in transferring every detail of the book, and making it into one of the best American films of all time. I went to see it at the cinema, and was staggered by the excellence of the cast, the soundtrack, the amazing visuals, and the exciting set-pieces. Few book adaptations have ever been done so well.
My final selection is the thrilling historical whodunnit from Umberto Eco, ‘The Name of The Rose’. I bought (and still own) a lovely hardback edition of this book (pictured) in 1984. I was immediately captivated by the setting, the characters, and the historical period. This large book could not be called a light read. It has a complex plot, side plots, and many characters to get to grips with. So the fact that I read it in two days gives some idea of just how good I thought it was.
A short time later, I heard it was to be released as a film. My heart sank, as I was sure it could never hope to equal the scope of the novel. I went to see it at the cinema, and decided that I had only been half-right. It hadn’t managed to fit everything into its running time, but it nonetheless presented the very spirit of the book, and the sets and period detail were second to none. It is still among my favourite film adaptations of novels that I loved to read.
So, it is over to you. Please add your own choices in the comments, and introduce all of us to some we may not be aware of, or just remind us of old favourites.