Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by the bloggers of The Broke and the Bookish. This week we're listing our top ten best/worst book to film adaptations. I decided to split this half and half, listing five of my absolute favorite movie adaptations and five I consider to be some of the worst (listed from low to high).
Some of the Best:
Girl with a Pearl Earring (based on the book by Tracy Chevalier): I actually haven't read the book or seen the film in maybe seven-ish years, but I remember liking both well-enough when I read/saw them. Any story about art is bound to capture my attention; the film adaptation features Colin Firth and Scarlett Johansson, and it really captures the essence of the somewhat-creepy relationship between Griet and Vermeer and the Netherlands in the 1600s.
Gone With the Wind (based on the novel by Margaret Mitchell): How can this ever not make its way onto a list of best movie adaptations? The film is not without its flaws, but anyone who has read the book can just tell how well the film attempts to emulate all that the book stands for. The film made the character of Scarlett O'Hara that much more accessible for tons of people, and there will never be such a thing as too much Scarlett.
Pride and Prejudice BBC Version (based on the novel by Jane Austen): This is the only Pride and Prejudice adaptation worth mentioning, to be honest. I did give the 2005 version a try the other weekend, and it just confirmed my suspicions. With the extended length of the BBC version, more time is devoted to help viewers better understand the culture and on the relationship that develops between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. And, of course, nobody can play Mr. Darcy like Colin Firth (he played him again in the modernization Bridget Jones' Diary).
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (based on the book by Stephen Chbosky): I know this book has its critics out there, but I really enjoyed Charlie recounting his freshman year of high school. And I'm not sure if I've ever seen a film that is as faithful to its source material. The film really was the book brought to life, and this is one book I'll happily reread while picturing the actors and scenery that the film provided.
The Lord of the Rings (based on the trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien): You all knew this was coming, didn't you? The Lord of the Rings film trilogy epitomizes everything that a good adaptation should possess for me. Many actors and crew read parts of the book right before filming relevant scenes.Not only did the cast and crew respect the source material enough to produce a film that remained faithful to its roots, but they also made the story more accessible to a larger audience. This is the shining example of how book to film adaptations should be done.
The Hunger Games (based on the book by Suzanne Collins): While I was thinking of some bad adaptations, I asked my boyfriend for suggestions, and this topped his list. While I enjoyed the film, I can see his point. The film focuses so much on the visuals that it ignores pivotal character histories and the chance to explain the background about Panem. I think those who didn't read the book would be a little lost watching the film, which is a key factor in a bad adaptation for me.
Twilight (based on by Stephenie Meyer): So, the book actually isn't any good either, but I feel as though the film adaptation expounds upon every instance of awkwardness and really emphasizes the terrible writing. The book also hinges on the attraction/instalove felt between Bella and Edward, and I had a hard(er) time believing it through Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson's performances.
The Polar Express (based on the picture book by Chris Van Allsburg): Nothing is technically wrong with adapting a picture book, but I feel like they don't have enough going on in them to warrant the feature film that many of them become (Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are also fits in this category for me). Just too much has to be added to the storyline that the film loses its credibility as a faithful adaptation, in my opinion. Also, Tom Hanks is fine and all, but him doing every major character's voice is a little much.
Harry Potter (based on the novels by J.K. Rowling): The Harry Potter series formed a significant part of my childhood and I honestly never expect to love a series as much as this one. I was so excited to see the movie adaptations, but was disappointed to realize that feel like flashy films hoping to build upon the franchise and earn lots of money versus loyal adaptations of a beloved series. The Prisoner of Azakban is the absolute worst (it deviates from the plot of the book so significantly, and for no apparent reason).
Ella Enchanted (based on the novel by Gail Carson Levine): To be fair, I haven't actually seen the entire movie. But from the little I've seen and heard, the fact that this movie shares its title and inspiration with Gail Carson Levine's incredible Cinderella retelling is a travesty. Except for characters and the setting, basically nothing is the same as in the book. Since the book is one of my childhood favorites, knowing this about the movie just makes me want to cry.
I feel that I should point out that in my mind a good adaptation is one that captures the essence of the original book. And those tend to be the ones that are more faithful to their source material. I fail to see how adaptations to other forms of media can really respect the original work if they film's plot/setting/characters/
pivotal scenes end up varying drastically from what was originally written. If a film does vary drastically from the source material, then I don't want to think of it as an adaptation, something "based on" a book; instead, I prefer to think of them as "inspired by" the book. Inspiration is a much looser term and has the freedom to be applied to a wider range of interpretations. So for me adaptation = something that should be fairly faithful to the original material.
Now that my mini-rant is over, let me know what you consider to be some of the best and worst book-to-film adaptations!