For previous posts and future FFF topics check out my Friday Favorite Five page here.
Favorite Five Movie Adaptations
These days we have so many adaptations of things coming out it’s sort of hard to keep up. That also gives me a lot of things to choose from here. Everyone has different thoughts on adaptations but I think most readers will always lean towards ‘the book was better’.
But adaptations aren’t meant to be a scene for scene recreation of the book, and in many cases the books are too long for that anyway, especially when it comes to turning something into a two hour movie. There will always be decisions on what to leave in, what to take out, and how to make things easier for a film audience. Sometimes adaptations are in name only and it’s frustrating for fans of the book (World War Z for instance) and other times the director tries their best to at least stay as true as they can to the original material. I do think sometimes the adaptations can be interesting even if they don’t have much in common with the original stuff. I always thought The Queen of the Damned was a fun movie, I just have to pretend it doesn’t have anything to do with Anne Rice. 🙂
Anyway, here are a few of my favorites!
- The Princess Bride by William Goldman
I think it helps here that Goldman was also an acclaimed screenwriter. A book like The Princess Bride was probably destined to be adapted at some point. And yet, like many projects, it had fallen by the wayside. By the way, if you’re a fan at all of the film I definitely recommend checking out Cary Elwes book As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride–in audio if you can because many of the people he interviewed read their own parts here and it’s just lovely. Anyway, it’s obvious that the director and crew were fans of the book and took great care to adapt the original material as best as they could here. Of course there are things left out and in the book a few of the characters are little more fleshed out, but overall it’s a great adaptation. The movie may be lacking some of the cynicism of the book as well with the frame narrative changed a bit, but I think that was a good choice. The movie is so much fun.
- Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice
In the 90’s I was all about Anne Rice. I’m still a fan although her work got a bit repetitive after a while. Now she’s writing some really out there stories. At least they’re not all the same anymore? Anywho. I believe Rice may have written the screenplay for this one which probably helped the spirit of the book translate well into the film. I think Neil Jordan did a fantastic job with setting the tone of the film. I remember when this came out and there was so much drama, Rice talking smack about how Tom Cruise could never be Lestat and then taking out full page ads apologizing. Hah! For what it’s worth, I do think he did a good job as Lestat, even though he and Pitt were really a bit too old for the characters they were playing. Also Kirsten Dunst as Claudia. ❤ (This is before Rice ruined Claudia’s character for me in subsequent books.) PS: I still have this movie poster hanging on my wall.
- Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
I clearly remember when the first Jurassic Park was in the works. I think I was in ninth grade and our science teacher was talking about it. I thought ‘oh man, better hurry up and read the book first’ because I’ve always been a nerd, apparently. Anyway, that movie came out and blew my mind. I’ve always been a fan of dinosaurs and seeing them come alive on the big screen like that was amazing. It’s still pretty amazing (the first film at least). I think the movie did a pretty good job of carrying over the themes from the book, for the most part. Even if it did depict Hammond in a much more positive light. There were some parts that I was sad weren’t included (the part with the Pterodactyls, for example) but overall I think it was pretty good. Also LOL at Crichton ret-conning a certain character’s death after they lived in the film by having them appear alive in the second novel. There were some things I was glad they condensed, like all the science of making the dinosaurs. I don’t remember how many there were, but I clearly remember there being more than one chart and/or graph in that book.
- Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
This will probably be my most controversial pick on here, lol. The adaptation to Practical Magic is one of those where quite a few changes were made in order to give the story a more straight-forward plot. The book meanders quite a bit and is really slice of life for much of it until near the end. This is one where I liked both the book and the film for different reasons. The movie is cute! It’s about sisterhood! And it’s also a bit of a romantic comedy! The tone of the book is a little darker and the characters a little less likable. Things are changed, Sally’s children remaining younger in the movie vs the book where much more time has passed and they’ve become teenagers. Still, I really, really love that movie. The book is definitely good in its own way, but it’s a lot more harsh and I think the movie tends to filter the story a bit through pleasant filled lens. There are also entire plot lines and characters dropped from the story. I think the story the film tells works fine without them, but you also lose some of the messages from the book. There are also things they added, I guess to add more tension. It’s not a perfect adaptation by any means because it does tend to water down the book a lot, but it’s still a very enjoyable film on its own. At least I like it. And you may like it too if you’re into the 90’s Lilith Fair, women are the best, woo sisterhood, kind of thing. 🙂
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
The first time I watched the first Harry Potter movie it put me in mind of when I read the first book. Mission accomplished. I know some of my friends thought the adaptation was lacking but I think it really did a great job of conveying the spirit and magic of the book. The score was wonderful and say what you will about Chris Columbus, but he really did a good job of bringing that book to life. That first book does get dark at times. Harry’s time with his aunt and uncle of course, but also at the end of the story. Still, a lot of reading that book was spent being transported into this beautiful and wondrous world where magic exists. Visiting Diagon Alley the first time, and seeing Hogwarts on screen, I think those scenes will always stay with. Even now whenever I hear the score playing somewhere I’m transported back there. Such a lovely film.
So, that’s my list. What are your favorite adaptations? Leave a note in the comments or feel free to link up here with your own post. I’d love to hear from you!
16 thoughts on “Friday Favorite Five: Movie Adaptations”
The Harry Potter adaptations are great 🙂 Thats the only one on your list where I read the book and saw the movie
The Princess Bride book and film are both amazing, so if there’s any one I recommend definitely checking out both it’s that. 🙂
Ahh, I just saw the first Harry Potter movie for the first time the other day and it really did bring back that magical feeling of reading the book!! And yes, the Princess Bride is just perfect for an adaptation. Great picks!!
Thanks! Yes, magical and innocent, love that first one.
I feel like I made this list myself!! Oh man, now I don’t even want to do this meme because I feel so represented already hahah. That’s awesome! You’ve got great taste 🙂 I love Practical Magic SO MUCH.
Hah, thanks! I only just realized she wrote a prequel to Practical Magic last year the other day. It looks like she retconned the background story to match the film more, I’m curious about it now…lol
Wow, I love all your examples! I remember the whole controversy when Anne Rice was so pissed off about Tom Cruise, lol! And I agree with you, both the book and movie of Practical Magic are wonderful for different reasons. I need to watch the movie again soon!
I love Anne Rice drama, lol. She’s nothing if not entertaining. 🙂
I need to rewatch it too, love that movie.
Princess Bride is the best!!! They did such a good job!!! I also love the Pride and Prejudice with Kiera Knightly ❤
Oh, I really love that version of P&P too. Aside from the lovely way in which is was directed (that long shot where it follows them through the beginning of the Netherfield Ball was amazing) I love the way they portrayed Mr. Darcy in that one.
All of these. That is all. Brilliant.
Thanks, Lynn. 🙂
Love these! I know people say the first HP movie is too close to the books, without anything new added to it, but I think that’s a good thing? I love how it balances the serious and the more light-hearted stuff.
It’s just so wonderfully magical.
I wholeheartedly agree with four out of five of your choices. As for the Harry Potter movie, I much prefer “Prisoner of Azkaban,” though. I felt the first one suffered by trying to stick too close to the source material, and felt rushed in a lot of parts. I still enjoyed it, but I was glad that by the third installment, the movies were popular enough in their own right for The Producers to feel comfortable with changing some things so they would work better in a film medium. Awesome post!