Most of the time the word “adaptations” is exciting! But just as often we readers hear that our favorite stories will be adapted for the film or television screen and we aren’t excited, but instead we are completely FEARFUL! What parts of the plot will the director and screenwriters decide are unimportant and cut? Which characters won’t be in the movie? Who will they cast as our most beloved fictional heroes or heroines from a series? Is that person a good actor or actress and do they fit the mental image of this character that we have always had? Basically, a lot in an adaptation can be changed and will be changed. For many readers this leads to an adaptation that does not live up to expectations, or, in the worst-case-scenario, an adaptation that destroys the heart of the book they love so dearly.
With every horror story about adaptations gone wrong, though, there is another story, one much more happy, of adaptations that have been extremely successful—that capture all of the important elements of the original written story. These successful adaptations are adaptations that are unique and their own, but that still capture the true essence of the book that they originated from.
Today I am going to tell you about a few film adaptations of books that I have read, loved, and enjoyed, that I think are extremely successful. So, without further ado, here are some of my favorite page to screen adaptations!
Everyone knows the story of Harry Potter, an eleven-year-old boy who lives in the cupboard under the stairs in the house of his grumpy and, to put it nicely, unaffectionate aunt and uncle. However, Harry is more than that—he is the boy who lived, the boy who survived an attack by the darkest wizard, Lord Voldemort, of his time. Harry is eventually invited to study at the same school of magic as his late parents, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. With this invitation begins Harry’s epic, seven-book journey, as he attempts to prevent Lord Voldemort from rising to power once again.
The Harry Potter series is one of the most beloved children’s book series of all time, but for me, its film franchise is equally beloved. Main characters, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley are portrayed by actors Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint respectively. In these movies, the plot is extremely true to the books, only leaving out extraneous materials here and there. The world-building that makes the books so great is also similarly well-executed in the movie—creating a cohesive feeling and aesthetic that is carried across all eight movies. The Harry Potter movies capture the essence of the Harry Potter books in a way that many adaptations cannot. The acting is phenomenal, the music is atmospheric, the special-effects are groundbreaking. The movies also have a slightly darker ambience than the books, which helps to create a film-world that is creepy, intriguing, and unique from the books in a beneficial way.
The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games is probably as equally well-known of a book series and film franchise as that of Harry Potter. The Hunger Games follows the story of Katniss Everdeen, a young woman living in district 12 of the future country Panem. In this world, each year, each of the twelve districts are forced to send two tributes, one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to participate in the Hunger Games—a fight to the death aired on live TV for the entertainment of the Capitol. It is a fight to the death that also serves as a message to the districts that the Capitol has complete control and power over them. The three book series follows Katniss Everdeen as she volunteers as tribute for her district in place of her younger sister, Prim, and chaos, heartbreak, and rebellion ensue during Katniss’s journey toward freedom and justice for all of Panem’s citizens.
The four films created from the the three books, The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins, are incredibly well-done. This series of books, in its very futuristic aesthetic and also very disturbing content could have easily been an awkward combination of weird costumes and unnecessary violence amongst minors. However, the films, starring Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark, and Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy, to name a few, are very tastefully and conscientiously done. The costumes are out of this world—but in a good way. The settings are futuristic—but in a way reminiscent of the past as well. And the characters are real—they struggle in the exact same ways in which their characters struggle in the book. Basically these action-packed and emotional movies successfully create the world of Panem—a world that can sometimes be almost impossible to imagine.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story
It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini follows main character, Craig Gilner, a teenage student in New York City. Faced with the never-ending and suffocating pressure to do well in school, get into the perfect high school, get the perfect job, and just be successful in life, Craig eventually breaks. He can’t eat. He can’t sleep, and he even considers killing himself. With these thoughts of suicide, Craig, checks into a mental hospital filled with a quirky, unique, and interesting cast of characters—all of whom help Craig see the beauty and purpose in life once again.
The movie adaptation of this novel starring Keir Gilchrist as Craig, Emma Roberts as Noelle, and Zach Galifianakis as Bobby, is hilarious and completely endearing. The characters are relatable and real thanks to fabulous acting and a great script. The world of the hospital is realistic but not heavy. The film, just like the book, is unexpectedly upbeat for such serious topics as mental illness, depression, and suicide. Somehow, though, through all of the pain and all of the struggle that the characters seem to face, the movie creates a feeling of hope—a characteristic that is essential to the book.
These are just a couple of my favorite page to screen adaptations. Some other adaptations that I would highly recommend are The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World, Pride and Prejudice (2005), and Love, Rosie.
What do you guys think of these adaptations? Do you think they are as good as I do? If so, why? If not, why don’t you like them? Also, what adaptations have I not mentioned here that you really enjoy? Let me know in the comments!