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Weekly Geeks: Best Movie Adaptations

July 21, 2009

So what are some of your favorite movie adaptations of books? Include trailers or scenes from Youtube if you’d like.

Also along with that question, or instead of that question, what book or series would you like to see be made into a movie or movies? Tell us why you think it or they would work as a movie. If the book already has a book trailer, include that, to help make your point.

I think, generally, when a book is being adapted, it shouldn’t be an exact replica. I have an intense dislike with straight adaptations more so with the recent state of comic adaptations, the style in which the director directly replicates the page from a comic e.g. Sin City. The most recent example of this is Watchmen, while not every scene is the same and it has many things cut out or re-arranged it’s far too dependent on pandering to “fanboys” rather to what the story needs. The film is a failed attempt, I would say it’s a gallant attempt to try and produce a worthy adaptation of Watchmen but it ultimately fails. I did enjoy it but only in a referential way of “oh look there’s Rorschach and Nite Owl etc”.

I believe that most times an adaptation should take the themes, motifs, subtext etc but mould it into something alternative. It would be the same story but from a different perspective. In this way, the film would add something but not distract from the original source. Of course, a difference between a faithful adaptation and one that tries to replicate the novel. For example, the Lord of the Rings trilogy work because, while faithful to the source, the filmmakers realised that they had to reshape and redefine the story to fit the expectations and structure of film.

My favourite film adaptations are probably:


An Andrei Tarkovsky film based upon Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. It’s a mesmerising, reflective, still and absolutely stunning to watch. Tarkovsky took a story and made it his own; he put it through his own unique filter and ended up with one of his finest films.

I would also add his version of Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris, although I’m not as favourable to it as I am to Stalker. I do like Steven Soderbergh’s version as well. The soundtrack is marvellous.

L.A. Confidential

This is a perfect example of how to take a book and make it into a successful film. Brian Helgeland (writer) and Curtis Hanson (director, co-writer) took a complex and labyrinth novel and moulded it into something that retained the story and tightened it up. The book is brilliant but you could not have it as a two-hour film. It’s almost as you should watch the film first and then read the book second. They are both similar but distinct; by reading the book after you get to read more plot strands, more character development, which add another layer to the story.


6 Comments leave one →
  1. July 21, 2009 8:27 pm

    You and Sarah Sammis of Puss Reboots had the best answers thus far. Very well-thought out responses. I now feel embarrassed having slap-dashed mine together. Both of you included the off-the-beaten-path selections, you, of course, with Stalker which I’m sure most of the participants had never heard. At least, I know I hadn’t.

    • July 21, 2009 9:20 pm

      Thanks. It was my first time participating in Weekly Geeks so I thought I had better make a go of it. You should check out Stalker it is one of those films where you have to sit in silence, and contemplate what you’ve seen. It isn’t for everyone but if you give it a chance you will be rewarded.

  2. July 21, 2009 9:37 pm

    Oh, I have LA Confidential lying on the bottom shelf of my bookshelf, just waiting to be read. Was thinking of taking it with me on holiday, as it seems like a holiday read.

    Like unfinishedperson, I hadn’t heard of Stalker either.

    Happy Weekly Geeks šŸ™‚

    • July 21, 2009 10:10 pm

      L.A. Confidential is part of the L.A. Quartet which starts with The Black Dahlia (well that’s more part of the universe than actually a part of the series). You don’t have to read them in order, or even read any of the others.

      It depends on what kind of books you would define as a holiday read, if it’s a book that doesn’t tax your brain then I wouldn’t recommend it. You need to be involved in it because there are a lot of twists and turns, characters left and right and you alternate between the three main characters. I hope that doesn’t put you off because it’s a brilliant novel.

  3. July 23, 2009 9:52 pm

    I haven’t watched those movies, but I completely agree with you. It’s about keeping the themes/motifs/tone of the book, not about making a scene by scene replica. I think my favourite adaptation is The Virgin Suicides. It just captures the mood of the book so well.

    • July 24, 2009 6:59 am

      The worst offender for that is Sin City. It’s terrible, all style and no substance and admittedly it does look quite snazzy but after watching it you feel empty inside. Much like eating a McDonalds.

      I haven’t read or seen The Virgin Suicides, although I do have his second novel Middlesex. Which I haven’t read either.

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