Double figures! How very exciting. And we’re off quotes. Even more exciting!
10. Name five absolutely great film adaptations of books
Ah. Film adaptations. That old bone of contention. It seems like the people in Hollywood are incapable of having an original idea and instead the majority of films hitting the big screen are adaptations of someone else’s story. films of books have a habit of splitting the fans of the book into two camps – those who love them and those who hate them. It’s rare to find someone who loves a book and doesn’t have a strong opinion on the film and so with that in mind the opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and are not intended to upset or offend.
1. Chocolat (book by Joanne Harris, film (2000) by Lasse Hallström). Somewhat miraculously one of my favourite books of all time is also one of my favourite films of all time. It possibly helps that I saw the film first so when I came to reading the book I could handle the deviations from the text as it was more like I was getting the insider knowledge that just added depth to the film and increased my love for it. Of course the amazing cast (Juliette Binoche, Johnny Depp and Judi Dench to name a few), incredible setting and unbelievably decadent chocolate on show helped as well.
2. The Lord of the Rings trilogy (book by JRR Tolkien, films (2001-2003) by Peter Jackson). I read the books, I enjoyed the books but the films took them to a whole new level. The breathtaking scenery, the perfect cast, costumes, weaponry, sets, make up, special effects, the list goes on and on. These films brought Tolkien to a whole new generation (myself included) and turned a fair few of my school friends into Elf-wannabes who raced around the place shooting each other with arrows and making (half-hearted) attempts to learn Elvish. As for myself I wanted to be one of the Rohirrim, not a namby-pamby Elf and lost entire days of my life (not to mention a small fortune on cinema tickets) watching the films, commentaries and special features. Happier days I struggle to recall. They even cut out Tom Bombadil, what more could you ask for?
3. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (book by Roald Dahl, film (1971) by Mel Stuart). I have watched this film more times than I can remember; it’s the perfect Sunday afternoon film, a fact Channel 5 seem to have picked up on given the regularity with which they screen it on a Sunday. The magic of Roald Dahl’s world is lovingly brought to life in glorious technicolour and Gene Wilder perfectly encapsulates the eccentric Willy Wonka. True, Charlie is a bit of a wet squib but his Grandpa Joe is fun and the rest of the motley collection of spoilt brats are spot-on.
4. War Horse (book by Michael Morpurgo, film (2011) by Steven Spielberg). I loved this book as a kid and when I grew up and moved to London I loved the stage show so I thought it could only get better with this film version and I was right! The film is a stunning piece of cinematography which traverses the idyllic English countryside, to the mud soaked trenches of France and back again. It’s an emotional ride (just like it’s two predecessors) that loses nothing in its transition to the big screen.
5. Goodnight Mister Tom (book by Michelle Magorian, film (1998) by Jack Gold). Another book I loved as a child which has been lovingly brought to life by a fantastic cast. John Thaw IS Tom Oakley, he embodies the sweet old man hidden behind a gruff exterior who slowly encourages the shy, abused William Beech to blossom into a confident and vivacious child who is able to handle everything the wartime world throws at him. Another perfect Sunday afternoon film which has a proud place in my DVD collection.
But I can’t finish this list without throwing a few honourable mentions: Perfume: Story of a Murderer (book by Patrick Suskind, 2006 film by Tom Tykwer) for making a ridiculous book almost comprehensible; The Hunger Games (Book by Suzanne Collins, 2012 film by Gary Ross) for being brilliant and faithful even if the ending was a bit weak and Les Misérables (book by Victor Hugo, film (2012) by Tom Hooper) for just being wonderful.
Then there’s a whole heap of films that are adaptations of books I haven’t read yet but maybe one day they’ll get onto this list as well.