Normally at this time of the year I have my nose buried in the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) catalogue of films (or my TIFF bible as I prefer to call it), trying to decide which movies I want to see and which will fit into my busy schedule. As I work my way through my TIFF bible, I also note which films are based on or are inspired by books. There is usually quite a large selection of films at the festival that had their start as a book; whether fiction or non-fiction. I also like seeing which films have been written by fiction or non-fiction authors moving into a new or different phase of their writing career by working on screenplays. I love that the Festival and the film industry as a whole hasn’t lost its appreciation of the adaptation.
Unfortunately I am not able to attend TIFF this year and I don’t have this year’s catalogue to go through to list off which films are based on books; that I can’t wait to see, or others that are garnering buzz that you might want to add to your film picks or to-be-read pile.
So I thought instead I would list my top 7 films based on books I have read, as well as 3 that should never have been made into films at all.
Click on the book cover to enjoy how these books come to life on the screen.
Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding
I liked the book and LOVED the film. I still think Renée Zellweger should have won her Oscar for this performance. And I have referred to myself as Bridget Jones on many occasions, as have many other women I am sure.
Stand by Me based on the novella The Body by Stephen King
The ending of the film is different than the book, but it is no less powerful. When in the right hands Stephen King’s books translate into wonderful films – The Shawshank Redemption, Carrie (the original) and Misery. In fact I have seen more film adaptations of King’s work than read his books. I think it’s easier for me to share his extraordinary kind of scary with others than experience it by myself in my imagination.
Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
This book is a challenge, with the dialect committed right into the writing, but it was a great and darkly funny read and an incredible film, directed by Danny Boyle. It also introduced some wonderful British actors to the rest of the world (Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller and Robert Carlisle). I think my friend and I were the only ones laughing in the theatre that night.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Austen’s writing and societal observation is witty, lyrical and really in a league of its own. I have seen most of the adaptations out there, but you only have to give me Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy and I am done.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
This was my first foray into the gothic genre and all these years later it still haunts me. There have been a few film adaptations of the book, all of which I have enjoyed. I will say the recent film with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender is my favourite.
Here are 3 books that should never have been made into a movie – or at least deserved a better adaptation than they got. I’ve spared you links to the adaptations – stick with the book on these ones.
Flowers in the Attic by V. C. Andrews
This WAS the book of my early teen years. I must have read it a dozen times (in secret). And I think it is still in many ways too taboo for the masses. The film and subsequent made for TV film were not bold or brave enough to really go ‘there’, especially with the incest theme.
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
I haven’t read this book although I have been told many times I should. Everyone I know who has read it has loved it AND hated the film inspired by it. John Irving completely disassociated himself from this adaptation, which is why it was renamed Simon Birch. Many other books by Irving have made wonderful leaps onto the big screen including The Hotel New Hampshire, The World According to Garp and The Cider House Rules.
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
This is one of my favourite books of recent years. It should have made an amazing movie filled with magic and romance, but it was miscast and the story itself was chopped up, losing so much of what made the book special in the first place. Rumour was that Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt had optioned the book to star in together – I think they would have made a wonderful Clare and Henry (IMO).
Three Films that I loved based on books that I have never read (but probably should).
Three brilliant films/books that I have never watched or read (and likely won’t).
There are so many adaptations out there. Here are a couple of links to lists of films made or inspired by books.
What are your favourite book to film adaptations?