Book to movie adaptations that are actually good

By Noah Newsome
Elm Staff Writer

Taking material from a book and accurately adapting it for the big screen presents a mighty challenge, especially when it comes to works of fantasy or science-fiction.

Still, many directors and screenwriters have risen to the challenge and set out to produce as accurate a recreation as they can.

If you are interested in some of the best book to film adaptations, this list is the one you are looking for.

“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy (Directed by Peter Jackson)

Arguably the most iconic fantasy film series to date, Peter Jackson’s adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s seminal work, “The Lord of the Rings,” follows the adventures of the Hobbit Frodo Baggins, played by Elijah Wood, as he attempts to destroy a mystical artifact of great power to prevent the return of the dark lord Sauron.

While the novel, “The Lord of the Rings,” is sold today as one collected volume, it was originally published in three parts.

This format would carry over to the film adaptations, “The Fellowship of the Ring,” “The Two Towers,” and “The Return of the King,” released in 2001, 2002, and 2003, respectively.

The trilogy was an immense success both financially and critically, influencing many other works of fantasy that followed and paving the way for a subsequent trilogy that covered the events of “The Hobbit.”

According to Looper writer Jaron Pax,“there are countless inherent reasons that The Lord of the Rings is the best cinematic fantasy epic of them all. Most of these reasons relate to the films themselves, from their epic vision and source material to their staggering production efforts, incredible runtime, and perfect continuity. No matter how you look at it, there is more than enough evidence of their worth embedded right in the films themselves without the need to drag any forms of external approval into the equation.”

“Life of Pi” (Directed by Ang Lee)

Originally published in 2001 by writer Yann Martel, Life of Pi primarily follows the experiences of two shipwreck survivors as they float adrift in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean.

The first survivor and titular character is sixteen-year-old Pi Patel, played by Suraj Sharma, while his companion is a fearsome Bengal Tiger by the name of Richard Parker.

While the striped feline initially poses a danger to the young man as he struggles to stay alive, the two eventually learn to coexist as they drift along before their eventual rescue.

The film was an incredible financial and critical success, winning a Golden Globe for Best Original Score, along with a slew of Academy Awards, including Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, and Best Original Score.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” (Directed by Robert Mulligan)

Released in 1962, this film adaptation of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel went on to garner immense critical and financial acclaim, cementing the story as a cultural cornerstone for generations to follow.

The Library of Congress even elected to preserve the film in 1995 as a mark of its cultural significance.

The main plot of the film follows the narration of Jean Louise Finch, better known by her nickname Scout, as she talks about her childhood.

Scout’s narration focuses on events surrounding her father Atticus Finch, played by Gregory Peck, as he seeks to defend and innocent African American man in court against false charges of sexual assault.

Atticus’ decision to take this case earns him and his family ire from the prejudiced townsfolk who all assume the man, named Tom Robinson, to be guilty.

While Atticus fails in securing Tom’s innocence, he succeeds in teaching his children to avoid prejudice and the importance of standing up for one’s values, a lesson that stays with Scout for the rest of her life.

“Schindler’s List” (Directed by Steven Spielberg)

Based on a true story, “Schindler’s List” follows the efforts of a German man named Oskar Schindler, played by Liam Neeson, as he attempts to save Jewish lives in the midst of the Holocaust by employing them in his factory.

The movie is based on a nonfiction novel titled Schindler’s Ark, written by Thomas Keneally, with most of the novel being true to life, with only some details and conversations being fictionalized when exact details could not be found.

While the film was anticipated to be a financial failure and thus given a tight budget, it turned out to be quite the opposite and garnered both critical praise, financial success, and numerous Academy Awards, including Best Film and Best Director.

Similarly, to the previous entry on this list, Schindler’s List was also adopted into the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as a testament to the film’s cultural impact.

“The Godfather”(Directed by Francis Ford Coppola)

The story of this film follows the Corleone crime family, focusing primarily on the family’s patriarch Vito Corleone, played by Marlon Brando, and his son Michael Corleone, played by Al Pacino, as the latter goes from innocent young man to a crime lord in his own right.

The film, along with its sequels, is based on a novel of the same name by Mario Puzo.

Like the films on this list, and was even the highest grossing film of 1972. According to novel, “The Hollywood Story” by Joel Finler “The Godfather” was nominated for numerous academy awards, taking home three, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

The success of these films proves the worth of book to movie adaptations.

Photo Courtesy of Flickr

Featured Photo Caption: Popular book to movie adaptations are often classics. Books like “Pride and Prejudice,” “Les Misérables,” and “The Great Gatsby” are all classic novels with films to match.

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