Who doesn’t love a good book to film adaptation? (Emphasis on good because some of them are…not so good.) I thought it would be fun to talk about a few of my favorite books turned movies and why I love them. As usual, we’ll start with my sixth favorite and end with my most favorite.
6. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell and North and South dir. Brian Percival
Okay, it’s a miniseries, not a film. But I’m counting it anyway! This is one of the rare cases where I watched the adaptation before reading the book. Immediately after finishing it, I knew I needed to read the book. It’s such a beautiful series. The costumes, the music, the chemistry between Margaret and Mr. Thornton! It’s all so perfect. It’s a faithful adaptation, and I think the changes they did make work well for the medium and for the story in general. And Richard Armitage is just perfection.
5. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe dir. Andrew Adamson
This is one of the even rarer cases of me liking the movie more than the book. Yes, I said it. Not that I don’t love the book; I do. But I adore this movie and have since it first came out when I was twelve. It expands on everything Lewis is vague about and gives the Pevensie children a bit more personality than in the book. Edmund has always been my favorite, and Skander Keynes is great in the role (I had such a crush on him as a kid). And Tilda Swinton as the White Witch is excellent. Also, the soundtrack! That’s going to be something I say a lot in this post. I’m big on movie soundtracks for whatever reason.
4. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones and Howl’s Moving Castle dir. Hayao Miyazaki
This is another one where I saw the movie before reading the book. It’s funny how many of those ended up on this list. I fell in love with Studio Ghibli when I first saw Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Howl’s Moving Castle quickly became my favorite. The animation is stunning, the soundtrack is gorgeous, and the story is beautiful. Just an amazing movie all around. I didn’t read the book until college, and I was surprised at how different it is. But I loved it. My favorite thing about this pair is how Jones and Miyazaki have taken the same story and told them in such different but equally lovely ways.
3. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings dir. Peter Jackson
Is it cheating to put a whole trilogy on here? Maybe. Do I care? No. Though if I had to pick a favorite of the three, it probably would be Fellowship because seeing the movie (on VHS!!!) was my first encounter with Middle Earth. I don’t think I really need to say why I love these films. They are spectacular in every sense of the word. And I would actually say this is another case of me liking the movies more than the books. Again, not that books aren’t amazing! But the movies cut out some of the slower, more difficult parts that I had trouble with when I was younger (read that as little Elizabeth did not want to freaking deal with Tom Bombadil).
2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice dir. Joe Wright
Have I ever mentioned I’m in love with Keira Knightley? Because I am. And I’m in love with this movie. Even though it isn’t as faithful an adaptation as the 1995 miniseries, I’ve always preferred the 2005 movie. The cinematography and the overall aesthetic are just perfection, and the changes work well for bringing the story to the screen and making it a bit more Romantic and dramatic. And Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen as Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are the embodiment of romance!
1. The Body by Stephen King and Stand By Me dir. Rob Reiner
And now we’re at my absolute favorite. It’s another one that I watched before reading the book. I watched Stand By Me at the exact perfect age to experience it (twelve), and it had such an impact on me. I saw a lot of myself in the main character, Gordie. Naturally, I read the book as soon as I could get it and was surprised at some of the major differences between them. It’s the same story and the same characters, but there is one big thing at the end that really changes things. But the changes work so well. Honestly, some of them work better than the original. And King acknowledges how well they work in interviews on the special features of the DVD. The book is one of my favorites as well, and the best lines of the movie are straight out of the book, but Reiner truly found the heart of this story.
What are you favorite book to film adaptations? Are there any that you think are better than the book? Do we share any?