Lori's Book Nook

5 Most Memorable Movie Adaptations

Posted on: April 12, 2007

How can I resist an //engtech contest?!? Especially one where I can talk about my other favourite thing — movies!

Okay — on to the list. Let’s assume that LOTR is in the list somewhere, but that it’s been over-blogged in the last couple of years. And when I say ‘memorable‘, I mean my memory!

No. 1

I Capture the Castle. The Dodie Smith book of the same name is a delight. It’s in diary form, written by 17-year-old Cassandra, who lives with her rather eccentric family in a broken down old castle. The strength of this rather quiet movie lies in Smith’s background as a playright (and writer of The One Hundred and One Dalmations) — I’ve never seen a movie capture the characters, plot, setting, and essence of a book so well. At no point does it slap you in the face and say “hey! I’m literary! Can’t you tell?” (Unlike the first Harry Potter film…which I watched, anticipating each scene: “Ho hum…now we’re going to get ___ scene.”)

No. 2

A Little Princess (the 1995 version). From the book by Frances Hodges Burnett. Okay, so they added a little dramatic ‘hanging-from-the-eaves’ scene — I don’t mind. At that point in the movie, you’re really in the mood for it. The Miss Minchin character is wonderfully done by the great actor Eleanor Brun. You feel for her and hate her at the same time — brilliant! The story-telling, the ‘magic’, and the relationship between all the girls is beautifully represented. And the colours…each scene is shot with either a dark, earthy green that menaces, or a sunny golden glow that, well, glows.

No. 3

The Power of One. Is this a great movie? No. It’s got some brilliant moments, but overall, I wish it had been more…meaty. Gutsy. Longer. The treatment of the material was sketchy — it’s obvious that Bryce Courtney’s greatest book needs to be made into a BBC mini-series (a la Dune or Gormenghast), not relegated to a shortish Hollywood film. But, they manage to get some of the best bits right in this one — it definitely captures the feel of the book, even though they totally botched the story.

No. 4

Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle. Is this movie based on the biography Dorothy Parker: Oh What Fresh Hell Is This? by Marion Meade? [ooo…a triple whammy. A movie based on a biography of a famous writer!] It doesn’t say that the movie’s writers used the book, but it is the most common biography on Parker, and many of the anecdotes from the book are reproduced verbatim in the movie. (Of course, that means nothing, as all of her friends were literary, everyone in that crowd wrote everything down…) Anyway, it’s a great film, representing the life and times of a great if tragic woman, played with utter perfection by the indomitable Jennifer Jason Leigh!

No. 5

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. Okay, I’m cheating on this one. In a sense, the movie came first. But, the author of the movie (and the supposed file cabinets full of material on this character), Earl Mac Rauch wrote a ‘novelization’ of the movie, like no other I’ve ever seen! Usually, a book-from-a-movie is a scene-by-scene rehash of the action. Cheesy. Badly written. Who reads them??? (Okay, I admit, the first book I read in Portuguese when I was living in Brasil was the novelization of ET…and I highly recommend them to language learners because of their screen-to-print regularity.) But this one is different — written from the point of view of one of the main characters, it’s his version of events. And, it’s as wonderful as the film. (If I have to convince you, you’re really not a geek.)

What are your movies?


18 Responses to "5 Most Memorable Movie Adaptations"

Good gravy! I haven’t heard of any of these. What planet are you from again? πŸ˜‰

My favourite adaptation has to be The Godfather. It’s the only time I haven’t been disappointed with the film version (quite possibly having something to do with Al Baby’s eyes).

The adaptation of LOTR was totally dire in my opinion. Bleh.

Never saw the Godfather. It’s on my list. I finally read the book a few months ago — very good.

But azahar, have I inspired you to either read or watch any of these titles? πŸ˜‰

The Dorothy Parker one, perhaps. JJL played a similar character in the Coen Bros ‘Hudsucker Proxy’, which I thought was quite good. And of course I adore Ms Parker.

You have never seen the Godfather???

Again I feel compelled to ask which planet you live on! Just mentioned this to Nog and he said – ‘that’s weird…’ πŸ˜›

I loved the movie “I Capture the Castle,” but have yet to read the book.

I’ll have to check out the Buckaroo Bonzai book. It sounds intriguing. (Does it by, any chance, also include the line “laugh while you can, monkey boy”?)

I think my favorite movie based on a book has to be “The Princess Bride.” (Of course, I did see the movie before I read the book. Which is always easier on the movie. Otherwise I tend to spend the movie saying “that’s not what X said” or “Y doesn’t look like that”.)

The book is absolutely delightful. Read it, then watch the movie again to see the subtleties they caught in the realization.

To your question about BB — you see, the book is in Reno’s point of view, so unless BB told him about it, it’s not in there. (And at the moment, I’m not sure if it is. I think not.) 😦

I loved The Princess Bride! What a fun movie! The Sicilian…the Giant…the Man in Black…Inigo Montoya. “As you wish.” I mean, really, what movie has contributed more to our common popular culture (not including a Monty Python film)? Good one to add to the list!

I do have a copy of I Capture the Castle, so I guess that’s one step toward following through on your assignment. Is there a due date?

About BB–it’s not a deal breaker. Just a quote I like to throw into conversations whenever possible. (Actually, it’s a particularly favorite quoted line of my husband’s…though he tends to say “laugh-a while you can-a monkey-boy”)

And the Princess Bride is my absolute all-time favorite movie to quote. At one point, I could say all the lines. It’s a fun movie to watch with a group of people who all know the movie well. (“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”)

No due date…but when you’ve read it, I’ll have some questions for you about the different characters. πŸ˜‰

I didn’t know The Princess Bride was a book.

Yes, wonderful film, all of it. Every little bit.

((resists urge to break into PB quoting frenzy))


(oops. sorry.)

The Shining
The Silence of the Lambs
The Shawshank Redemption
Rumble Fish

With honorable mentions to 1984 and Ghost Story.

Rich…Good list. A lot of those I haven’t seen, I don’t read/watch things that are scary…so I’ve missed a lot of your faves.

So, because I’d never willingly pick up a Stephen King, I’ve never read The Shawshank Redemption, so to me that’s just a brilliant film (what a great film! Hmmm. Desire now to watch it again soon…I think I own it, maybe tonight.) And I’ve never read Catch-22…keep meaning to.

1984 — as a movie…I think I saw it when I was too young to appreciate it. It’s been on my list to re-watch for years.

Like Silence of the Lambs, 1984 was a pretty faithful adaptation of the book, so it is rather grim and depressing. It was one of those rare cases where the book was visually transformed into film in a way that almost exactly matched the way I imagined it while reading. As Roger Ebert said in his review: “the movie looks, feels, and almost tastes and smells like Orwell’s bleak and angry vision.”

Wasn’t Buckaroo Banzai a comic book first?

What a great quote! There’s a reason Ebert made the big bucks.

You know, I don’t know. It’s part of the fabulousness of TABB that it feels like you’ve been dropped into a huge force of fandom already in place…but I believe the comics existed in the storyline, and then were created in the real world. There exists, according to rumour/reputation/legend, a file cabinet in Earl Mac Rauch’s possession supposedly jammed packed with material, ideas, & stories for more BB. Ah well.

[…] “5 Most Memorable Movie Adaptations” by loricat (Save this post at del.icio.us) […]

Thanks so much for this. You didnt take the most obvious popular ones you’ve heard of and list it here. This is the most varied list of movie/book adaptations taht I’ve seen so far.
I’ve read ‘I Capture the castle.’ Didnt know it was a movie too, though. I’ll check it out. πŸ™‚

Thanks, ‘N’, for dropping by and giving me a chance to re-read my list of movie/book connections. Since I wrote this, I have finally seen the Godfather. (Whew!)

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