July 9, 2013

Even Better Than the Real Thing, or Angie's Top Ten Book-to-Film Adaptations

Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish

We've talked adaptations before, but it's been quite awhile and let's face it--I am always up for this particular discussion. I've recently engaged in a couple of marathon chats with my 13-year-old niece regarding the subject. A word to the wise: do not get her going on the disaster that was the Percy Jackson movie. She cried tears of rage similar to the ones I wept upon viewing that atrocious "adaptation" of The Dark is Rising. Which is just one of the many things I love about her (and which always reminds me of myself at that age). Thirteen-year-old nerdygirls are awesome, in case you'd forgotten. So. Today, let's eschew the horrific and go with the best of the best. The ones that give you shivers they're so good, or even the ones that leave some things to be desired but that you will never stop watching because that one pivotal scene? They nailed it.


84 Charing Cross Road - I don't know if it's possible to top this one for the kind of reader I am. Everything is right. I mean, just everything is right. Down to that moment I can't ever watch without sobbing, "Looking around the rug one thing's for sure: it's here." Life would be insupportable without this adaptation.

Anne of Green Gables - I remember watching it over and over again with my mom as a kid. "This is the very last of the Queen Anne's lace for the summer. Don't worry about your hair. No one even notices it anymore." Oh, Anne.

Jane Eyre - I've watched them all, and I'm going with the most recent one because it has lingered in my head the way the others have not. I wasn't sure about that ending the first time around. And then the second time . . . that nearly inaudible sigh. I don't know about you, but a single exhalation has never felt so much like home.

Little Women - This is a comfort film in our home. Christmasy and sisterly and full of strong women, it gets a gold star for trying as hard as it could to make me buy Jo and Laurie not ending up together. My cantankerous heart came this close. Good job, little movie. You gave it your best shot.

North & South - Her luminosity, his . . . everything, the soundtrack, the tufts of cotton floating through the air, but most of all THAT ENDING. I just . . . I really cannot accurately convey my feelings for that ending.

The Outsiders - I didn't see this startlingly genuine adaptation until years after I first read the book. But it's quite simply too on to miss. "When I stepped out into the bright sunlight, from the darkness of the movie house . . . "

The Princess BrideThe stars aligned when this adaptation was made. That or some such equally fortuitous event, because it is timeless. 

Sense and Sensibility - A perfect film. In every respect. 

To Kill a Mockingbird - I'm fairly certain there's never in the history of movies been better casting than Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch. "Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father's passin'."

Where the Wild Things Are - I don't know that I'll ever be able to watch it a second time. So. Many. Emotions. All I know is that this film should come with a warning for mothers of boys. Beyond this point, there be dragons.

28 comments:

  1. love the princess bride! I read the book after I saw the film but I find the book and the film are equally great.

    the north and south adaptation is great too. now if only the BBC or whoever produced the film would just release scores for them. the soundtrack of north and south is quite beautiful.

    I would like to mention that pride and prejudices film with Matthew Macfadyen is one of my all-time favorite austen's adaptation.

    hope you have a great day.

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    1. The soundtrack to N&S is simply wonderful. It added so much to the whole.

      Lissa, the Macfadyen P&P is my favorite as well! He killed it as Darcy. Just killed it.

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  2. I really liked Sense and Sensibility as well, and Emma Thompson did a great job of portraying a woman at least 10 years younger than she was! I didn't include North and South only because I didn't include TV adaptations; otherwise I would have certainly added that one and the BBC mini-series of Jane Eyre which is my favourite adaptation of a classic novel EVER!

    So many of these I haven't seen (and some I haven't read the book either!). I do remember watching Anne many many times as a kid - oh wow I saw a bit of a telly-movie the other night, a biopic of Shania Twain and the actress who played Anne was playing the mother - I forget her name but I always recognise it when I see it in the credits, and she hadn't changed all that much. Rather sad though, I always hope actors we love from our childhood go on to bigger, better things, not tacky biopics on the Country Music Channel!

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    1. Emma Thompson floors me. Just generally.

      I have a lot of friends who adore the BBC mini-series of JE. :) I do like Toby Stephens. Ever since his stint in Tentant of Wildfell Hall.

      I've seen Megan Follows here and there over the years since Anne, but never in anything that fit her so well. *sigh*

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  3. This is where I'm going to go ahead and admit I've never watched North and South. I know. I keep meaning to, but my TV time seems to become more limited as my kids get older than less so. I agree with so many of these others though. Especially Anne of Green Gables!

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    1. BRANDY

      I completely hear you on the dwindling screen time with kids. I completely understand.

      But coming from someone who just never got around to it for so long--you do not want to wait any longer. :)

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  4. Good choices! Anne of Green Gables is a favorite of mine also. I have to pretend Anne of Green Gables, The Continuing Story doesn't exist though. The Princess Bride is one of the most perfect movies ever made, IMO. And don't get me started on North and South. :) I recently read the book for the first time ever and I ended up loving it. And then I watched the movie and I loved it even more. I felt like I almost knew more of what was going on in their heads because of the book, if that makes sense. And I totally agree with you on the ending. AH!

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    1. Oh my goodness, that third atrocity they released years later? It is dead to me.

      There has never been such an ending, Misti. There just has never been. I could watch it over and over. And have.

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  5. Absolutely agree with this list! Anne, and Jane Eyre and Little Women are the favorites on my list. I never tire of watching them, in their many versions. Little Women every Christmas, for sure!

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    1. There's just something festive about Little Women. I love it.

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  6. Great choices! Especially The Outsiders - wouldn't have thought of it, but it is perfect.

    And I like the new Jane Eyre except for the fact it's missing the crossdressing.

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    1. Isn't it? All those boys who went on to do so many big things . . . crazy.

      Yeah, that seemed to be a big miss for a lot of fans. It's grown on me with each viewing, interestingly.

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    2. I'll have to watch it again then! I did feel it was very romantic and had a good tone, but it just wasn't half as crazy as the book. I need a Jane Eyre adaptation that's not afraid to be insane.

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    3. Lol! Fair enough.

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  7. I agree with you 100%! And with your niece. I was so disappointed with what was done to The Dark Is Rising movie (as well as Percy Jackson and Earthsea).

    And let me take this opportunity to thank you for the recommendation of Big Boy by Ruthie Knox. Quite heart melting!

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    1. I can't believe they let that happen with those adaptations. It's inexcusable.

      LIN! You read Big Boy. This makes my day. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. It took me completely by surprise. Mandy . . .

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  8. I loved Sense and Sensibility! I'm realizing I forgot about a lot of movies when making my own list. If You have a sec please check out my top ten http://www.bookcrackercaroline.blogspot.com/2013/07/top-ten-tuesday-3.html

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    1. There are so many! It's hard to narrow it down to just 10.

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  9. I'm with you on Sense and Sensibility, The Princess Bride, Anne of Green Gables, and North and South, and would add The Shawshank Redemption and Como Agua Para Chocolate.

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    1. You know I've never seen those two, azteclady? Thanks for reminding me.

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  10. Oh I love that adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, the chemistry between Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet is brilliant, perfect casting! And the moment when Hugh Grant says "ah no, my, my brother Robert" and Emma Thompson burst into tears - love! The Princess Bride and Little Women are among my very favourite films

    I have only seen the trailer for The Dark is Rising and I could barely stand to watch that. So upsetting, that boy is clearly not Will and as for casting Lovejoy as Merriman Lyon, I have no words.

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    1. I love everything about it. I really do consider it a perfect film and so it's the Austen adaptation that went on the list. What casting . . .

      That's because there are no words for what a loused up job they did. I weep.

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  11. I just have a stupid grin on my face from simply seeing the North & South picture. <3

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  12. Thompson's Sense and Sensibility is one of my favorite films, but the DVD commentary with her and the producer is DEFINITELY my favorite commentary - I think I may have watched it more with the commentary on than off.

    I'm also a big fan of N&S and Anne. Jane Eyre adaptations I've never seen, as I've STILL never managed to read JE. Shawshank is grand -- definitely rec it. It's on my husband's Fave movies ever list.

    As for this LW -- I will say I prefer it, marginally, over the Kathatrine Hepburn one, but I still don't like it much. I think Beth is HORRIBLY miscast (except I tend to think that about everything Danes does) and they gloss over so much of what I love, but all is forgiven because older Amy is so unbelievably perfect -- I love that actress, even from Pump up the Volume, everything she does is fantastic -- and she DOES make me believe that she and Laurie are Meant to Be. I never "got it" til I saw the movie.

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    1. It has such good commentary, you're right.

      I don't actually believe you're planning on reading JE. I think you just dangle it out there to drive me crazy.

      Samantha Mathis really is great. And she's certainly the reason I come as close as I do to buying it. Well, and Gabriel Byrne to a certain extent. He's rather lovely. But I think I waffle with each viewing. And the last one (this last Christmas) left me all fired up again. Sigh.

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    2. See, here's the thing, Angie, I would, but I keep reading this blogger who is like "Oh, read THE STORY GUY, oh read XYZ..." and my list fills up. Tel you what, When I finish the two books I have due before September, I will read JE.

      I oath it. ;-)

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    3. Well, when you put it that way . . .

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