Adapting a book sounds easy in theory. One just has to create the world described in the text and populate it with characters, instill the film (or show) with themes either original to the film or think of their own. In reality, the process is notoriously difficult.
Some books, no matter how imaginative or visually rich they are, do not translate well to the screen even if the makers put everything into the adaptation. And some average or even bad books become superb films, sometimes because the film was a better medium for the story or the filmmaker found out a story worth telling amid all that dross.
On World Book Day, have a look at ten best film and TV adaptations of books. There is no particular order here.
The Shining: Netflix
Stephen King is a huge fan of Stanley Kubrick, except the time when he adapted King’s horror classic The Shining. Much has been said about how the film departed from the original story on a fundamental level, even if plot-wise, it was pretty much the same. On its own, the movie, starring Jack Nicholson at the top of his game, is a frightening depiction of a man going insane in real-time. This is horror at its most scary.
The Shawshank Redemption
The Shawshank Redemption was based on a novella — Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption — written by an author most of whose work is almost entirely without hope — Stephen King. The movie had none of those irritating lengthy descriptions of people and things that nobody cares about… except for King, maybe.
The lovely score, top-notch performances, and a hopeful tale about finding redemption in the direst of circumstances, The Shawshank Redemption remains a supreme achievement.
Forrest Gump: Netflix and Amazon Prime Video
Forrest Gump boasts of Tom Hanks’ finest performances yet. And it is so much better than that draggy book which had some truly awful narration. Admittedly, I watched the movie first but couldn’t spot a single thing that was better done in the book no matter how hard I tried. It is amazing how someone could transform that heap of garbage into such a lovely film.
Schindler’s List: Netflix
When I read the Schindler’s List, I found it a dark, depressing story but also remarkably moving. The Steven Spielberg movie was better. More moving and, thankfully, retaining the dark (literally and metaphorically) tones of that incredible novel. Not to forget the fantastic cinematography and excellent portrayal of Oskar Schindler by Liam Neeson.
The Lord of the Rings: Netflix and Amazon Prime Video
Compelling characters, story, stunning cinematography, engrossing battle sequences, and fantastic score are just a few reasons why Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings is easily the best film trilogy ever made.
The Witcher: Netflix
Based on Andrzej Sapkowski’s stories, which also inspired a hugely popular series of open-world RPG video-games, the world of the witcher resembles Westeros (from Game of Thrones) in many ways. For one, it is a gritty, dirty world full of violence, sex, and so on. For another, there is no clear division of good or bad like in most fantasy tales.
However, The Witcher boasts of a lot of magic and fantastical creatures, which George RR Martin’s novels shied away from. The hero itself, Geralt of Rivia, is a mutated human with superhuman abilities. Game of Thrones in comparison had magic, but only on the periphery, at least in the first few seasons.
No Country for Old Men
Joel and Ethan Coen’s dark, brilliant adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s iconic novel of the same name captured the spirit and essence of the source material even if it was not too faithful.
Netflix’s adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Victorian-era Gothic horror novel was a surprisingly clever, well-performed piece of entertainment. While it was a considerable departure from the source material, it remains an interpretation that Stoker himself probably would have been proud of.
Jurassic Park: Amazon Prime Video
At a time when 3D animation was still in its infancy, Spielberg’s Jurassic Park came and shattered all expectations with its stunningly designed models and high-quality CGI dinosaurs that still hold up well today.
A truly terrifying depiction of the events which materialize when those monstrous reptiles of the bygone era are thrown abruptly in today’s world with the help of advanced genetic technologies. And above all, the devastating consequences of that audacity.
The Godfather: Amazon Prime Video
Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather followed the novel very faithfully whilst embellishing the already great story — one of the many reasons it is considered to be one of the best movies ever made.