Movies Based on Books

Friday, June 3, 2011 at 12:01 am

Films Adapted from Novels

There are more movies based on books than you might imagine, and this article is devoted to ten that I believe to be worth your time. Whether you’re interested in vampires, unruly and sometimes murderous schoolchildren, or mountain men, our list should have something for you. To purchase any of the listed items, just click on the hyperlink to be taken to the product page on Amazon.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009) – Based on the “Millennium Trilogy” of books by the late Stieg Larsson, this Swedish thriller packs all manner of excitement into its 152-minute runtime. While awaiting a jail sentence, journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) is hired by a millionaire to solve a mystery that’s over four decades old. He receives some unexpected assistance from a goth hacker named Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), who winds up being one of the more interesting female characters in modern cinema. Not for the faint of heart, the film features rape, murder, mutilation, and ex-Nazis. The American remake is scheduled for December of 2011.

Blackboard Jungle (1955) – Public schools were a mess even back in the 1950s, something which is adequately demonstrated in this black-and-white classic starring Glenn Ford as an inner-city teacher trying to reach out to his restless students (including Sidney Poitier and Vic Morrow). The film’s title song “Rock Around the Clock” became a monster hit, and riots and vandalism were reported at screenings around the country. Based on the novel of the same title by Evan Hunter.

Smilla’s Sense of Snow (1997) – Based on Peter Hoeg’s Danish novel Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow, this adaptation stars Julia Ormond as a lonely and strong-willed woman who launches her own investigation when her young neighbor falls to his death from a rooftop. Co-starring Gabriel Byrne, Richard Harris, Jim Broadbent, Tom Wilkinson, and Robert Loggia.

American Psycho (2000) – Adapted from the controversial book by Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho allows Christian Bale to show off his chiseled physique as Patrick Bateman, a yuppie whose placid demeanor hides the madness of a serial killer. While succeeding as a horror film, it also frequently veers into the territory of black comedy and satire. Willem Dafoe, Jared Leto, Reese Witherspoon, and Chloe Sevigny co-star. If you decide to check out the book, keep in mind that it’s far more disturbing and violent than the big-screen adaptation.

Lord of the Flies (1963) – William Golding’s book about British schoolchildren stranded on a deserted island gets its first adaptation, although another would follow in 1990. Taking a cynical look at the human condition, the film shows the group of otherwise normal kids fall to madness and murder over time. James Aubrey plays the level-headed Ralph, Tom Chapin is the increasingly bloodthirsty Jack, and Hugh Edwards is the intelligent and doomed Piggy. A more faithful adaptation of the novel than the later version.

Once Were Warriors (1994) – Before he appeared as Jango Fett, Temuera Morrison demonstrated his acting prowess as Jake Heke, a violent drunk who terrorizes his Maori family. Rena Owen stars as Beth Heke, Jake’s downtrodden wife who slowly begins to resist his behavior. A tense and tragic family drama adapted from the best-selling debut novel by New Zealand writer Alan Duff.

Fight Club (1999) – Based on the 1996 Chuck Palahniuk novel, Fight Club stars Edward Norton as a white collar drone plagued by insecurities. But all that begins to change when he meets Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), a charismatic soap maker who teaches him the value of rejecting societal norms. Together, they form an underground club where men can fight one another to feel truly alive. Tyler, meanwhile, has more ambitious plans. Co-starring Helena Bonham Carter and Meat Loaf, this David Fincher project is beautifully filmed and features numerous brawls and even more laughs.

Jeremiah Johnson (1972) – Drawing elements from two books, Mountain Man by Vardis Fisher and Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson by Robert Bunker and Raymond Thorp, this Robert Redford western details the efforts of Jeremiah Johnson to live off the land in the Rocky Mountains. Meanwhile, he runs across a variety of characters, including a tribe of Indians who will stop at nothing to take his scalp. Directed by Sydney Pollack.

The Accidental Tourist (1988) – Geena Davis won Oscar gold for her role in this adaptation of the Anne Tyler novel, and the film would be nominated for three other awards (including Best Picture). William Hurt is Macon Leary, a travel guide writer with a failing marriage and an unruly dog. While recovering from an injury, he hires a woman (Davis) to train the pooch and slowly falls for her. Co-starring Kathleen Turner, Bill Pullman, and David Ogden Stiers.

Let Me In (2010) – This brutal and dimly-lit horror film is adapted from the John Ajvide Lindqvist novel and the 2008 Swedish film, Let the Right One In. It tells the disturbing tale of Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a bullied 12-year-old who befriends his new neighbor, a girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) who appears to be his own age. But there’s more to his neighbor than meets the eye, something Owen begins to realize when bodies start piling up. Elias Koteas and Richard Jenkins co-star in this modern vampire movie.

The next time you’re in the mood for movies based on books, give the above titles a try. From Oscar winners to critically-acclaimed foreign films, the selection is just as varied as the international literary community. And don’t forget that all these films are available via Netflix, America’s leading movies-by-mail service.

This entry was posted on Friday, June 3rd, 2011 at 12:01 am and is filed under Good Movies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Movies Based on Books”

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March 8, 2012

Fenwick C. Goldenstern

I’m just glad Fight Club was made in the 90s. These days, all the guys would have gauge earrings to show how anti-social they are. Brad Pitt would look like an idiot with gauged ears (so would Meatloaf).

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