Top Ten Tuesday: Book-to-Movie Adaptations

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Do come join the fun....

This topic has already received some consideration on this blog here. I did not list ten, however, and neither did any of you, so there's still some room for discussion.

Actually, I'm not sure I can come up with ten. If I loved a book, chances are I'll growl through the movie, fussing over minuscule deviations from the beloved character depictions and story. But here's what I've got:

1. The Princess Bride (thanks, MissPhotographerB, for reminding me of this one!) [Cary Elwes, Robin Wright]. Yes, it had to be shortened and changed somewhat. But with the brilliant interplay between Fred Savage and his grandfather, the Westley and Buttercup romance, Inigo, Fezzik, Vizzini, and the awful Humperdinck, what's not to love? Book and movie are both hilariously worth the while. Novel and screenplay by William Goldman, directed by Rob Reiner, produced by Rob Reiner, Andrew Scheinman, and Norman Lear.

2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I [Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint]. I can't speak for the as-yet-unreleased Part II, and there's no way I'd include any of the others, but oh, I loved this movie. The book, of course, is one of my top five favorite novels. Written by Steve Kloves, directed by David Yates, produced by David Yates, David Barron, and J.K. Rowling. Novel by J.K. Rowling.

3. Pride and Prejudice [Jennifer Ehle, Colin Firth]. I've also seen Lizzy Bennet played by Greer Garson, Elizabeth Garvie, and Keira Knightley, but Jennifer Ehle is the Lizzy I picture when I read the book. Plus, the role of Mr. Darcy totally made Colin Firth, one of the best actors in the business. Written by Andrew Davies, directed by Simon Langton, produced by Sue Birtwistle. Novel by Jane Austen.

4. Much Ado About Nothing [Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson]. Do plays count? If so, I love practically everything about this film—the star-studded cast, the hysterically funny Dogberry and Verges, Benedick and Beatrice, and most of all, the bright, laughing energy that carries the story from start to finish. Adapted and directed by Kenneth Branagh, produced by Kenneth Branagh, Stephen Evans, David Parfitt. Play by William Shakespeare.

5. Sense and Sensibility [Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, Kate Winslet]. One of the most artistically breathtaking films I've ever seen, this adaptation catches the spirit of Austen's novel despite editing it down quite a bit. The acting is also exceptional. Written by Emma Thompson, directed by Ang Lee, produced by Laurie Borg, Lindsey Doran, Sydney Pollack, James Schamus, Geoff Stier. Novel by Jane Austen.

6. Anne of Green Gables and the sequel [Megan Follows, Jonathan Crombie]. The first movie is fantastic and faithful to the book; the second takes some liberties, but is still thoroughly enjoyable; the third is a disaster of epic proportions, especially for anyone who liked Rilla. I adore the first two. The characters are very well portrayed. Written by Kevin Sullivan and Joe Wiesenfeld, directed by Kevin Sullivan, produced by Kevin Sullivan and Ian McDougall. Novels by Lucy Maud Montgomery.

7. The Twilight films [Kristin Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner]. Especially Twilight (directed by Catherine Hardwicke) and Eclipse (directed by David Slade). While managing to be extraordinarily faithful to the text, these come across as well-paced, beautifully filmed movies. This is true despite the over-billing for Mr. Pattinson's hair and Mr. Lautner's chest. As a coastal Washington State resident, only a half-day's drive from Forks, the cinematography in all three films thus far has been a constant delight. Screenplays by Melissa Rosenberg. Novels by Stephenie Meyer.

* * *

My lack of ability to finish the list probably owes to how few movies I've watched in the last couple of years. Yes, I'm leaving off the Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings adaptations, though I liked some things about the first and third Narnia movies and all of the Lord of the Rings films (cinematography and acting in LOTR: outstanding.) As a growly book-nerd, I just don't appreciate major shifts in character motivation. Also, I've said this before and I'll say it again: When a character is larger than life [e.g., Aslan, Dumbledore], you don't mess with their lines.

Since I can't make ten, here's a bonus:

The Phantom of the Opera [Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson]. I've never read Gaston Leroux's novel, and not being a big horror fan, I'll probably never watch any of the other film adaptations. But I love Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical. There's nothing like seeing it onstage, but the cinematography and the voices of the lead actors—and Emmy Rossum's sweet, terrified, childlike face—leave me breathless every time. Written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Joel Schumacher, directed by Joel Schumacher, produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lyrics by Charles Hart, Richard Stilgoe, Alan Jay Lerner. Novel by Gaston Leroux.

Feel free to fill in my blanks and/or make up your own list!


  1. I forgot about Anne of Green Gables! I love Megan Follows as Anne.

    I haven't seen HP & Deathly Hallows yet because I haven't liked any of the HP movies so far...I guess I'll have to give it a chance.


  2. I love The Princess Bride, and Robert Sean Leonard as Claudio in Much Ado makes me smile every time! Great list!

  3. Great list, I would put #3 and #6 on my list too (never read Princess Bride but LOVE the movie). I would also include Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, movie was great but the book was so so. I also really enjoyed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Johnny Depp. It was pretty true to the book with the weird Willy Wonka who was almost scary.

  4. You know...I've seen Shakespeare on lists through the weeks but I never think of them when I make mine. Much Ado About Nothing and Midsummer Night's Dream are two of my favorites!!!

  5. Melissa, Megan Follows was the perfect Anne! Also, I liked the Deathly Hallows movie because it was truer to the book than any but the first, and better-acted, I thought, than that one.

    Katie, I thought Robert Sean Leonard did a great job as Claudio. He and Kate Beckinsale worked very well together.

    Sarah, I've never read Divine Secrets, but loved the movie! I liked Johnny Depp's Willy Wonka, too. You're totally right about the almost-scary book.

    Kathy, I've read the play for Midsummer Night's Dream, but never seen a movie for it. Sounds like I should put it on my list. :)

  6. There's a movie made of Anna Karinina that I really want to see - it looks good. And I agree that the Princess Bride movie is good (better than the book), & Pride and Prejudice (NOT with Kira Knightly) is good. Apart from that...and teh gloriously bad cartoon Hobbit, I'm generally disappointed. Oooh, but Cold Comfort Farm is AMAZING both in book and movie form, I loved it.

  7. Jane Eyre is coming out soon... Here's to hoping it's not too great a disappointment! When the book is flawless, I fear the movie will depress me for a while...

    I LOVE P&P with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. I could probably watch it once a week if I had the six hours to spare! Great list, Jenna!

  8. Two that must be mentioned:

    Silas Marner, with Ben Kingsley in the title role. That's one of the only times I've considered the movie adaptation to be superior to the book.

    Howl's Moving Castle, directed by Hayao Miyazaki. One of the films most dear to me. I'm afraid to read the original book lest it spoil the movie. (Ha!)

    I feel I must also mention A Man for All Seasons, though that was Bolt's own adaptation of his stage play, so does that count?

  9. Masha, a movie of Anna Karenina! Wow. Let me know if you see that. I want to read the book, and then I can watch the movie. :)

    Carrie, I am SO going to see that next Jane Eyre! I've seen a couple of bad ones, but the trailer looks great.

    Mr. Pond, since Howl's Moving Castle is based off a Diana Wynne Jones book, it's awfully tempting to catch both. Although I can sympathize with not wanting to mess with the story as you picture it!

  10. Arabella here---
    The Devil Wears Prada. The book dragged miserably on and on, and I found myself rooting against protagonist Andi, who I felt deserved her losses; I got so impatient with her. The film is bright, sprightly, and tells the story in a much better and enjoyable way. Not to mention Streep tearing up the scenery with that whisper and cold gaze. Pass on the book, see the film.

  11. I would have to add The Secret Garden (1993 with Kate Maberly). There are so few movies that are capable of being magical, mysterious, and slightly frightening in an understated way; this movie does so flawlessly. The score is its perfect complement.

  12. I forgot to say The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway it was made into a GREAT movie in the late 50s starring Spencer Tracy, a must see.

  13. Arabella, I loved the movie The Devil Wears Prada. Didn't read the book, though. Meryl Streep is forever brilliant.

    AnnieKOConnor and Sarah, I haven't seen either of those! Goodness... my list is getting long. :)


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