Saturday, February 23, 2013

[4] The Upcoming Adult Presents: 18 Favourite Picturizations

Every year, one of the most discussed topics in the filmosphere is whether this or that movie lived up to this or that novel - or more rarely, short story or play. 
Most of the time, the general opinions tends to declaring the original "thing" to be the best. And I often agree. But that doesn't mean the movie is bad, and I know a lot of movies that brought something new to its source. A different medium can give a story a whole new perspective, and to know and accept that, I think, is a sign maturity.

So here are my 18 favourite picturizations (of books I've read) in no particular order:

 1: The Little Mermaid - The animated Disney adaption of this beautiful and tragic Hans Christian Andersen fairytale is off course much more children-friendly than the original story. It's also less poetic and less profound. Nevertheless, it is just something very else - and one of Disney's best ever.

2: About a Boy - Staying very close to the book, yet concentrating more on one character - Will - instead of Marcus and Will, this adaption of Nick Hornby's sweet and funny novel is a real gem. I mean, a light and entertaining gem. Also, I don't think Hugh Grant was ever better than here.

3: The Namesake - I just recently found Jhumpa Lahiri's extraordinary little novel in one of London's awesome thrift bookstores and read the whole thing on my way back home. While the movie has left fewer traces in my memory, I do know that I liked it a lot and that it was almost as beautiful as the book.

4: Never Let Me Go - About a month after I read Kazuo Ishiguro's novel, I heard that it had just been adapted for the screen - and was thrilled. Being one of the best books I ever read, the movie had a lot to live up to - and didn't disappoint me with a simpler story that however captured the spirit of the book wonderfully.

5: The Lord of the Rings trilogy - I don't think I need to explain myself here. Read the books after the movies and had nothing at all to complain about. Revisiting the books at the moment, by the way.

6: Norwegian Wood - Had a little Haruki Murakami obsession at the end of 2012, mainly because of this movie. It's really sweet and quiet, and as I read that the book was so much better, I read three of Murakami's novels in one row. And yes: they are so much better. Which doesn't make this adaption any less great.

7: The Pillars of the Earth - This is by far one of the most impressive books I ever read. And although a lot of things had to be left out in the TV mini series, and although the series were much more commercial and simple, I loved them to bits. Not only for giving us Eddie Redmayne.

8: Sense and Sensibility - When I was in my early teenage years, I had a slight obsession with Jane Austen and other vintage stuff. This was one of the last books I read of hers... and actually I don't remember much of neither it nor the movie. Nevertheless, a very positive feeling surrounds they're respective memories. 

9: Shopaholic series - I don't think I ever had as much fun reading a book, as when I read the Shopaholic series. I mean, they're basically the essence of "chick lit" and there's really nothing special about them - except somehow, there is. The same goes for the movie, based on the first book yet set in New York instead of London. (Not that I'm complaining).

10: Pride and Prejudice - The book with the most beautiful declaration of love ever (ever, ever), and the movie that created the images in my head once I did read the book.

11: Atonement - Can I just say that I am so crazy about this movie and this book? Actually a little more about the movie. The book is great too though. Well, I don't think I have anything more intelligent to say about this.

12: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Wow. That was my first thought when I had read the original short story. Wow, because wow, this is what you can make out of an already wonderful short story - which seems like a stupid draft when you've seen the movie!

13: Memoirs of a Geisha - I mocked on this movie a little when I wrote my post on Harry Potter for the snubathon, because it kind of stole some of its nominations. This being said, I think it's a great movie based on a great novel. Both making me cry. Which is quite an achievement.

14: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - American version. I've decided that it's the most inventive version, by which I don't mean to say that the Swedish version is the less good. They're both really cool in their own way - and better than the book, in my opinion - it had a lot of dull parts.

15: Harry Potter series - Interestingly, Harry Potter has been in each of the four lists until now. Well, once a Potterhead, always a Potterhead.

16: The Hunger Games - So, I know that a lot of important parts were left out. And the camera work at the beginning was annoying. But I don't care because this is one of the best "teenage franchises" started recently and I hope the next two parts will be just as awesome.

17: Jurassic Park -  I read this to improve my French (apparently you're supposed to read books that were translated into the language you're learning) and never expected such a highly suspensive read. I must say I don't remember the movie that much, but... I guess it qualifies.

18: Lolita - One of the most beautifully written books ever. I mean, just read these first few lines. So disgusting. And so intriguing. Oh, and we're talking about the Kubrick adaption here. As perfect as the book (almost).


  1. Nice one.

    I really want another adaptation of Lolita that will allow for the grosser bits to be included. And it should be more theatrical.

    2 books I read recently that were actually not as good as the films- The Hours and Perks of Being a Wallflower.

    1. High-Potter-Five!

      I'm planning on seeing the newer adaption of Lolita, but it would be wonderful if someone bold and daring would adapt it some time. Certainly, the censors did a lot to restrain Kubrick, which is also why he had to raise Lolita's age and choose a very mature-looking girl for the part.

      I really want to read The Perks, although I heard it's very different from the movie.

  2. I knew that you would include LotR in this list, but I hope that you will pay special attention to Return of the King,and see how far from the book that movie strays. Tolkien himself described "The Scouring of the Shire" as central to the whole theme of LotR, Jackson explicitly dismissed it as unimportant when defending his decision to completely excise it. His secondary excuse, that it had to be cut for reasons of length, really doesn't hold up now that he's bloated the Hobbit from a short children's story into a fat trilogy of films by making stuff up. When a film maker says the author got it wrong, it's hard to consider the resulting film a faithful adaptation.

    1. And I knew that you were going to disagree :).
      Well, I'm not saying that LotR is a perfect or fully faithful adaption of the books, not at all. But the book trilogy is one of my favourite pieces of literature ever, and the same goes for the movie trilogy - this however doesn't mean they're great in the same way. The books have their strengths and weaknesses, and so do the movies.

    2. Yes, that's understood. That's why I wasn't addressing the film's intrinsic merits, only their place as adaptations. On their own merits, they are great films, I'm sure. I also happen to love Fellowship as an adaptation, fwiw. :)

  3. what??? Jurassic Park was based on a book? That could be awesome, actually.

    Agree 100% with Pride and Prejudice (the novel is dreamy, but the film did create such beautiful images that it made it even better - and you're right, best declaration of love ever ever ever), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (also agree that the book is weaker), and of course, Harry Potter. Haven't read About a Boy, but I'm glad to find someone who also adores Grant in this. I would add the latest version of Jane Eyre, American Psycho and The Unbearable Lightness of Being, all favorite movies and books of mine!

    Would you say that Atonement, Never Let Me Go, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and About a Boy are still interesting reads even after having seen the films?

    1. Jurassic Park: Yes, but I think there were no books for the sequels (which might be an explanation for why the first movie is the best).

      Grant is just perfect for the character of Will - I don't think any other actor would've nailed it as much as he did. I haven't read Jane Eyre yet, but the latest adaption was lovely - the other two I've neither read nor seen.

      I would definitely recommend reading Benjamin Button, as its just a few pages long and extremely different from the movie. Never Let Me Go is a wonderful book too and offers more aspects and layers than the movie. Atonement, well I don't remember it that much, but I read it after having seen the movie and don't think I was disappointed. About a Boy is a very light and entertaining read, so if you need a little break from thick or heavy books, this is recommended too - and it's also different from the movie in some ways.

  4. You've got some good choices in here. Some of my favourites are also included like Atonement, Norwegian Wood (as you know!) and Never Let Me Go. While the adaptations of Atonement, and particularly Norweigian Wood, didn't capture the spirit/stories (for me anyway), Never Let Me Go was a wonderful retelling, and a beautifully sombre film in its own right.

    Lolita is a difficult one for me. I've only read the book and watched most of that god awful 90s adaptation. The book starts of wonderfully, it's both intriguing and disgusting (as you mention) but half way through it trails off into some melodramatic territory that becomes pretty absurd. It still doesn't detract away from how excellently it is written, though.

    Have you read Sputnik Sweetheart by any chance? It may be one of my favourite Murakami books too date (and this is coming from someone who loves the man and has read nearly all of his work!).

    1. Thanks, Cherokee (by the way I'm sorry for not having visited your blog for a long time, but I still don't want to lie to blogger about my age ;)).

      I love the Atonement adaption to bits, but it could definitely be argued that Norwegian Wood was a weaker adaption. However, I think it's pretty good too because it would be really hard to put that special Murakami spirit onto the big screen. Haven't read Sputnik Sweetheart no, but thanks for the recommendation!

      You should also try and watch the 60s Kubrick adaption of Lolita, it's really, really good. Even if you didn't like the book that much, I guess.


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