Because Annie & I love to read and watch movies, we’ve decided to list a few of our favorite book-to-film adaptations. (Okay, we also love to make lists.) Honestly, I could have named a dozen awesome flicks, easily. But I don’t want to bore you, so here are the first five that came to mind:
Mystic River: Dennis Lehane wrote some seriously dark, complex and very real characters when he wrote Mystic River, and Sean Penn and Tim Robbins gave 2 of those characters all the gravity and depth they deserved on film. Even now, thinking of the pain and heartbreak on Sean Penn’s face when his character learned of his daughter’s murder sends a chill down my spine. And the pure tragedy that was the life of Dave Boyle (aptly portrayed by Tim Robbins) makes my heart ache. A sad, twisted tale beautifully told in book form and every bit as agonizing on screen.
To Kill a Mockingbird: I first read this book in high school English class and loved it. I read it again as an adult and loved it more. I thought no way could a movie capture the greatness of it, the sweet innocence of Scout, the heartbreaking trial of Tom Robinson, the genius and reverence of Atticus Finch. The film made and released in 1962 proved me dead wrong. And Gregory Peck blew me away. It truly did this classic in American literature justice.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy: Forget for a moment that these films were shot in the breathtakingly gorgeous landscapes of New Zealand and that the cast – every fucking one of them – were perfect for their roles. Even without the scenery and the oh-so-talented actors, Peter Jackson took on these films like a kid with Asperger’s; he got every little detail, from the dialogue down to the beading on the elves’ gowns, exactly right. And Gollum – oh, sweet Jesus, Gollum could not have been better. He’s the kind of character that makes literature worth the writer’s sweat and tears, the publisher’s money, and the reader’s time. I first fell in love with him in The Hobbit and I almost dreaded seeing the Lord of the Rings movies for fear they wouldn’t give him the weight and the intensity that Tolkien intended. Needless to say, Jackson, Andy Serkis and everyone else involved in the making of Gollum exceeded not only my expectations, buy my every hope as well. I loved all of the 557 minutes of this epic tale and I think even Tolkien himself would say the same.
Pride & Prejudice: I own a paperback copy of this Jane Austen classic that I’ve read so many times, the spine is broken and some of the pages are loose. When I first saw previews for the 2005 film adaptation, I wondered if Keira Knightly had what it takes to bring the lovely, vibrant Elizabeth Bennett to life. The answer: absolutely. She and Matthew Macfadyen had fantastic chemistry and all of the surrounding actors (shout out to Brenda Blethyn and Tom Hollander!) were superb. The scenery of the English countryside, the wonderful score and the sharp dialogue made this flick every bit as charming as the novel on which it was based.
Atonement: I actually saw this movie a year or so before I read the book. I usually do this the other way around and expected not to become too invested in the novel since I already knew the plot and outcome. Man, was I wrong. Ian McEwan’s prose felt hypnotic; his vivid imagery and enchanting characters drew me deep into the story before I’d reached the end of the first chapter. Keira Knightly and James McAvoy made my heart swell and brought me to tears more than once in the 2 hour adaptation. The film captured all of the heartache and loss, the confusion and anger, the love and the beauty that McEwan put on the page.
What are your favorites?