TTT: Book to Movie Adaptations

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

This week's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, is about book to movie adaptations. As a lover of books and movies, this is the perfect topic for me. However, I am not a purist that believes the movie must follow the book to be well done. To me, they are different art forms, and what works in one may not work well in the other. I think a movie adaptation of a book must be more concise, often more action-packed (because you can't put an introspective section in a movie. Eat Pray Love is unfortunate proof of that) and often, it must be more accessible. But anyway, here is my list:

1. The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper. It definitely made me feel a bit better when Leif Enger, in a keynote address he gave a month ago that I still haven't written up (note to self) mentioned that he liked the movie version of Last of the Mohicans better than the book. I feel the same way, even though I loved them both. The book version gets cloudy with language and history, even though the underlying story is just as powerful. The director of the movie took quite a few liberties with plot, resulting in different characters dying and falling in love, but it seemed more fitting somehow.
2. Slumdog Millionaire (Q&A) by Vikas Swarup. I'm actually reading the book right now, and enjoying it, although it is very different from the film. I'm only a little ways in, so I can't tell how different things will be, but so far almost everything is different except the general construct of a slum boy winning a game show because each of the questions related in a different way to his life. However, both are powerful. Watching this movie was one of the first times I hung out with The Husband, so it holds a special place in my heart.
3. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. I'm blanket-sweeping all three movies under one. Peter Jackson did a great job of bringing Tolkien's world to life. I think my favorite thing is the scenery. It is so amazing!
4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I know a lot of people don't like the version with Keira Knightley, but it is my favorite. The six hour version isn't accessible to me - I'm sorry, but I don't have time to sit down and watch a six hour movie, and I also don't have the attention span. This adaptation did a great job of including important plot points, developing the characters, and exposing all of it in a beautiful setting.
5. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. This is a classic. I only like the first movie.
6. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. This movie makes me cry so much. I rented it from the library just before Christmas last year, and my husband was in and out of the apartment as he prepared for finals. Every time he came in, he had to ask me why I was crying. I think it just touches my heart because I grew up with the March girls.
7. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares. This book was high school to me. I remember going to the movie on the last day of my junior year with a group of friends. We were the only ones in the theater, and after the movie ended we all turned cartwheels down the aisle and lay on the ground right in front of the screen, talking about our dreams for senior year. It epitomizes the friendships we hope to keep and the adventures we hope to have in those teen years (at least for me).
8. Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling. I thought this movie was so powerful, especially because I really didn't enjoy the book The Order of the Phoenix (and by didn't enjoy, I mean that I really liked it because it was Harry Potter, but not nearly as much as the other Harry Potter books). I don't know what it was, but I just felt like there was so much power and passion behind this movie. It's when the battle with Voldemort really solidifies, and Harry and his friends have to choose to fight for him against opposition.
9. Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The only Sherlock book I have read is The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (although I hope to remedy this in the future). I don't know how true the movie is to any specific Sherlock Holmes story, but I was blown away by this movie. The characterizations were fantastic. The music and the gothic elements contributed to much to the overall feel of this movie as well.
10. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This was the first "grown-up" movie I ever saw in the theater (aka, the first movie I saw that wasn't animated). I was enthralled by the world of the secret garden when I was younger, asking my dad if he would build walls around our backyard and pretending that I planted the clumps of alfalfa in our field. I had a movie adaptation picture book of The Secret Garden when I was little that came with a key on a necklace and I remember wearing it every day. The magic of that movie had such a spell over me that I can't forget it even now.
11. Harriet The Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. Ok, I'm cheating by doing one extra, but I couldn't leave this one out! It was my favorite book and favorite movie when I was little. I used to hide around in the field behind my house with a notebook and a baby monitor, hoping to find out about some exciting secret activity. I'm a little less creepy now but I still love Harriet and the way she wants to be a writer and know everything.

What about you? Do you have a favorite book to movie adaptation?


  1. I love every single book/movie on your list. With HP, for me it was the scene when they walk into the Ministry of Magic and see that huge picture of the minister watching them -- such a blatant reference to 1984. One of the best thematic elements of the entire movie.

    I would include The Princess Bride on my list. Both adaptations are very funny. I would also have to say Gone With the Wind; it is my all-time personal favorite. The characters are so flawed but so relate-able, and how can you not love Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh?

  2. I"m so glad you included Harriet the Spy! I completely forgot about that movie. The books were a favorite of mine growing up and I saw the movie when I was younger, but forgot how cute it was. Great list!

  3. It's so nice to find another person who prefers the Keira Knightley version of P&P. I've seen both, and I think the six hour one is BORING!!

    I haven't read the book, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, but I've seen the movie and it was pretty fun.

    Love your list! I would second A Mitton. Princess Bride is one of the best movies ever and the book is pretty great too.

  4. @A Mitton - Shoot. Those ones too. I grew up on Gone With the Wind, I can't believe I forgot it!

    @Brenna - I'm glad you like Harriet the Spy! :)

    @Kristi - Yay! I'm glad you agree with me. Everyone hates on the Keira Knightley version but I love it. And Princess Bride definitely deserved to be on there, I totally forgot about it!


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