Top 10 Books I Would Like to See Adapted for the Screen

Welcome beloved Bookbaggers to the second part of my book-to-screen-adaptations Top 10s! This list was really fun to compile because it involved me imagining how some of my favourite books could be made into films or tv shows, and while I was researching I actually found out that a lot of them are in development, or there is at least other fans out there that want to see them, so that’s pretty cool :).

Hopefully this list will interest you all and make you think: what books would you love to see turned into a film or show and how would you like it to look? Feel free to comment below and otherwise enjoy the post 🙂

1. Mister God This is Anna by Fynn

It won’t be a surprise to most of you that this book is top of the list of books I’d like to see adapted, as I have fully expressed my love for it several times. I think this would make a really sweet, uplifting, and thoughtful movie BUT it would have to be done just right. In my opinion this book could only be adapted into two kinds of film for it to really capture the spirit of the story. The first option would be an animated film based on the original illustrations. I imagine it as a rough and somewhat sketchy animation which incorporates stills and slight animated movements – a bit like the tv adaptations of Watchmen – with all the shots being black and white but with a bright swatch of colour for Anna’s red hair. The other option I would enjoy is a live action movie that is shot like an old movie from the 30s (which is when the book is set), so either in black and white, or that new-to-colour look. I also think it would be best if it followed the plot quite closely, but focused on the beautifully tender relationship, and philosophical discussions between Anna and Fynn.

A different cover than I have shown before, and one that beautifully illustrates the bond between Anna and Fynn

2. Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

This video trailer is what made me think that Jasper Jones is perfectly suited as a film. The story, the setting, the characters – they all could work very well adapted into a movie or a miniseries, so much so that I’m kinda surprised no one has thought of it before. So, I did some digging and found this: the website of one Rebecca O’Brien, a filmmaker who has started work on a screenplay for Jasper Jones as her first feature film! The video from above is the only information provided on the site in regards to Jasper Jones and it is unclear if its her work or is just there to illustrate what the book is about, or what the film will be like, but if it’s like this little snippet I will be very pleased as it certainly has the kind of style that would match the book. I will keep posted on her developments and can’t wait til Jasper Jones the movie is a reality 🙂

A nice creepy cover that is kinda film-like

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 

From the moment I finished this book I thought it would make a great movie, and I thought that some film-maker out there would have done so by now. But it turns out that I just have to be a bit patient, as there is a lot of buzz online about a movie being made. A quick web search will give you many fan-made video trailers for a film based on The Book Thief and there was some news saying 20th Century Fox was going to produce it….but the release date was 2010 so I don’t know whats happening there. All I know is it would make an excellent movie as long as it was done right. I’m not too fussed about some of the finer details but it would need to accurately illustrate Nazi Germany without sugar-coating; it would need some form of narration by Death; it would need to demonstrate the different sky colours Death references in the book; and the casting for the characters (especially Liesel and Max) would have to be just right.

A theatrical book cover

4. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

I think it would be hard to adapt this book into a movie because it is quite long and involved, so in my opinion it would be better as an epic film, or a miniseries. I would love to see a film/miniseries filmed in Barcelona which has a really historical feel with a different film effect to illustrate flash-backs and content from books and letters. I think it would also be best if it was made by Spanish film-makers with a Spanish cast – I don’t care about reading subtitles if it feels more authentic, but I would be disappointed if it was americanized. But most of all I would love to see an adaptation of this book because seeing a recreation of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books would be amazing! Just like The Book Thief there is fan demand for a film to be made, so maybe one day my dream will be realised 🙂

A cover that I have never seen before, but I really like it!

5. The Giver by Lois Lowry 

This is one of the best books I read as a child and would make a unique and poignant movie. I imagine it as a simply shot movie, where everything is very clean and ordered, and in black and white because in the book the setting is a world where people only see in black, white and shades of gray and everything is highly controlled. I then imagine colour leaking into the shots as Jonas finds out about colour. I think if done well a movie of this book would be a gem to so many adults who read it when they were kids, and would present some important messages to today’s youth, as well as hopefully leading them to the book. If done wrong it would disappoint a lot of people. After a little bit of research I found out that an adaptation has been talked about for years but has never come to fruition. According to IMDb a movie is in production and is due to come out in 2013, but the details are a bit sketchy. Lets hope its taking such a long time because they want it to be right 😛

I think this is the same cover the book that was read to my year 7 class had 🙂

6. Skulduggery Pleasant Series by Derek Landy

This is another one which the ‘net says is in development and is due to be released in 2013, and if this is true I know at least two people who will be there with bells on when It debuts: me and my bro! This is a series that is destined to be a movie series, just like The Lord of the Rings; The Narnia Chronicles and Harry Potter. Reading the books is already a cinema-like experience with action-packed “scenes”, snappy dialogue, special effects and awesome costumes. I would love to see a movie made for each of the 6 books in the series, and as long as they remained as awesome as the books then I’ll be happy 🙂

Another cover I've never seen before!

7. Phryne Fisher series by Kerry Greenwood 

Ever since I read the first of this series I thought it would make a great tv series or series of movies. So, I was thrilled when I heard that Every Cloud Productions plan to bring the sassy 20’s detective to the small screen! The series is being filmed in Melbourne at the moment and is due to screen on ABC1, Australia’s top non-commercial station, and from what I’ve heard/seen so far its gonna be a ripper 🙂 It ticked all the boxes of what this series should have: its set/shot in Melbourne like the books, stars Australian actors and will be aired on a quality Australian channel. I also think the actress chosen to play Phryne, Essie Davis is a good fit. She has strong facial features and is thin and graceful like Phryne and I think with a black cap wig (or actual haircut perhaps?) and a gorgeous Phryne-esque gown she’ll look the part.

Promotional picture for the series - "Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries" 🙂

8. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman 

If this fantastic fantasy/apocalypse parody was made into a movie or show its my prediction that it would quickly gain cult status – that is if its done well! There is a loyal fan base online who already have created a plethora of fan art, fan fiction and other Good Omens themed goodies and they would be geared up to embrace a wonderfully made adaptation, or tear apart a disappointing one. For me any adaptation of this book would need to be a little strange, a little crazy and a lot hilarious and not many film-makers could bring it alive. I was therefore thrilled when I found out that a tv show is in the works, and that Terry Jones of Monty Python fame is rumoured to be involved! I can definitely see a wacky Python-esque tv series working for Good Omens and I can’t wait til it comes out (apparently also in 2013!).

An example of Good Omens fan art by kbakonyi found on DeviantArt

9. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is a beautiful and powerful book that I realise I have never discussed in a post before, which is rare for me! But when I was making my list of books I’d like to see adapted, this popped into my head because it would make a very touching and strong movie. The story is set in Nigeria and revolves around Kambili, a fifteen year old girl who lives with her brother and overbearing father in an elaborate family compound. When a military coup erupts and entangles her father, Kambili and her brother are sent away to live with their Aunt, a University professor, whose house is a breath of fresh air and freedom for the abused children. This could easily be a new tear-jerker/oscar nominee in the film world as it explores some big issues, while showing two sides of the complicated coin that is Africa: a juxtaposition of fierce politics and beautiful scenery. Unlike many of the others in this list, there is no news about an upcoming Purple Hibiscus movie, but like many of the others there is fan demand in the form of homemade video pitches.

But who would they cast?

10. Abarat by Clive Barker

Out of all the Clive Barker books I have read this is the only one that would be suitable as a film without having a R rating…or worse. Clive Baker has already been involved in several film projects, including Hellraiser (and sequels) Candyman (and sequels) and The Midnight Meat Train, but I haven’t read any of the books these films were based on (except the short story of The Midnight Meat Train). Even not taking the ratings and stuff into account, Abarat (or the Abarat series) is the Clive Barker book (or books) that I would most like to see on the big screen. Since the books are peppered with Barker’s own artworks I have amassed quite a visual accompaniment to the story and I would really like those visuals to come to life. There is a lot of buzz over the ‘net about a possible movie and if this article can be believed then Clive Barker himself has even hinted at the possibility. I just hope that it is true because It would be awesome, especially if Barker is involved as he has been in most of his film adaptations.

An example of the awesome art found in Abarat - a map of some of the islands that make up Abarat - Wouldn't you love to see them in a film?!

So there you go guys – the end of my Book-to-Screen-Adaptations theme 🙂 I really had a ball with this one and can’t wait to see what you vote in next. I’ll put the poll up straight after this, so get voting!

And, as always: Happy Reading! 😀

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Top 10 Book to Screen Adaptations

Hiya Bookbaggers! Welcome to the second set of Top 10s voted by you 🙂 This has been a fun list to compile because there is so much to choose from. Movie and tv adaptations of books (and graphic novels) have grown over the last few years to the point that almost every movie that comes out seems to be a reincarnation of a famous book, and it looks to be a strategy that film-makers won’t be abandoning anytime soon.

So how was I to pick the top 10 out of this sea of candidates?  Well, first I gave myself some guidelines: they all had to be movies/shows I had seen based on books I had read (obviously), and they had to be adaptations that I felt did justice to the original. In my opinion an adaptation doesn’t have to be exactly like the book – it some cases that would be nigh impossible, and besides, film is a very different beast to the novel so it is bound to be different. The adaptations I enjoy are ones that are reasonably faithful to the original while adding their own unique charm, but overall they capture the spirit of the book rather than trying to fit in ever detail.

I still have lots of movies to see that are based on books I’ve read and vice versa so this list may be a bit lacking for some of you, but hopefully you’ll enjoy it anyway 🙂

1. Coraline (2009) 

Based on Coraline (book and graphic novel) by Neil Gaiman

I knew I wanted to see this dark fairy tale directed by Henry Selick (who also directed Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas, and James and the Giant Peach) as soon as I saw the trailer, and at that point I didn’t even know that Neil Gaiman wrote the original tale. When I did go see it with my little bro, I was in love with the style and spooky/quirky story from the moment the opening titles started and I knew that I had to read the book asap! However it wasn’t until early this year that I finally got around to reading Coraline and realised how great the movie was. The movie achieved something that most adaptation don’t even come close to: it embraced the feel of the book and enhanced it with added detail. A film has a unique opportunity when recreating a story from print – it can visually show elements of the story previously only available in the imagination of the reader – and this can be done badly if the creators assume too much. I personally thought Coraline showed a love and real understanding of the book – its whimsy and darkness and humor – and using stunning visuals and talented voice actors created a cracker of an animated film.

2. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

Based on Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

I have said several times before that I saw the movie Howl’s Moving Castle well before I even knew there was a book, and it still remains one of my favourite anime films (along with several other Hayao Miyazaki films). When I read the book by Diana Wynne Jones I realised that the movie was quite different – it was a bit less creepy and a bit more cute, as can be expected from an anime motion picture – but the differences made it a better movie than if it had been a carbon copy of the original. Miyazaki created a grand anime fantasy saga that showcased the magic of the book, while also showing his brand of humor and a different fantasy element. The steampunk inspired flying machines in Miyazaki’s film were completely his own creation, as was the wartime setting but these elements wove together to make a great film. If Diana Wynne Jones can love it despite its differences (quoted here) then I certainly can 🙂

3. Chocolat (2000)

Based on Chocolat by Joanne Harris

This movie was a rare one that I saw after reading and loving the book. Normally my prefered order is adaptation then book, because the book is usually better so that way I will be pleasantly surprised rather that possibly really disappointed. In the case of Chocolat I thought the movie looked really well done and in the right vein as the book so gave it a go. Yes, there were some differences, such as the Mayor and vicar being separate people in the movie when he was one commanding character in the book, but the differences didn’t really bother me because at the heart of it, it was the same magical, delicious tale. Chocolat was asking for a visual representation – there was something about the sensual mixing of the chocolate and the descriptions of the quaint french town that needed to be on film, and the way that it was shot definitely didn’t disappoint. On top of this I thought the actors, namely Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench and  Johnny Depp were perfect choices for the characters (they looked almost exactly like I imagined them) and the music was a atmospheric finishing touch.

4. Watership Down (1978)

Based on Watership Down by Richard Adams 

You’d think with how much this book has come up in my Top 10’s I would be sick of it, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon 😛 I made a terrible mistake when I borrowed this on video (video!) when I was a kid. Not because it wasn’t amazing – because it was. Not because it was too scary for my age group – hmm maybe a little. No, it was a mistake because I saw it when I was a chapter or two away from finishing the book and it kinda ruined the end for me. That’s the problem with book-to-screen adaptations – no matter how good it is, if you see it before you read the book, be ready for spoilers…and vice versa really. Anyway, despite my bad timing I was glad that I watched Watership Down because it was amazing. The movie is very true to the original story, including the harsher realities that easily could’ve been omitted so as not to scare the kiddies, and a good thing too! I was young when I saw it and I would’ve been able to smell the bullshit if those horrible parts from the book had been glossed over. The movie was so well done that to this day, scenes from it come to mind when I think of the book…as does Bright Eyes playing heartrenchingly in the background.

5. James and the Giant Peach (1996)

Based on James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl 

The first time I saw this movie was when I was at an adult party with no other kids, so my mum put me in a quiet room with a tv and played the only kids video that was there. I can’t remember If I had already read the Roald Dahl book, or just other stories of his, but I do remember that I was quite underwhelmed about being on my own watching a film I wasn’t interested in. That is, until the movie really started and I got so into it that I didn’t even notice when other kids arrived and wanted to play (play? are you serious? This movie is way too awesome!). What I loved most about the movie (besides the generally awesome story of a young boy flying across the world in a giant peach pulled by birds, with a cast of colourful bug characters) was the style of animation – those rough scratchy looking stop motion figures that can found in most Tim Burton related animations. The style just fit Roald Dahl’s work so well, especially since I was so used to the sketchy illustrations by Quentin Blake that adorned all his books. Whenever it was that I read the book (maybe I even read it again after seeing the film?) I also noticed that the film was quite faithful to the original, but at that point it didn’t even matter. I just knew that I loved it, and it is still one of my favourite “children’s” movies.

6. The Colour of Magic (2008)

Based on The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett 

This is the only tv adaptation on the list and also the only miniseries! The “movie” is actually in two parts and covers the plot of the first two Discworld books. It was coincidently only a little after I read The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic that I saw the DVD for this in my local rental place (which I never go to anymore since I get all my DVDs from libraries or Quickflix) and I was pretty excited to watch it as I loved Hogfather, which is another Terry Pratchett adaptation by the same creators. The miniseries is missing some details from the books (it’s just too hard to put some of Pratchett’s crazy words into a visual format) but the uniqueness of Discworld was left intact, and what I really liked was some of the actors that were chosen. David Jason was a perfect Rincewind, Sean Astin was surprisingly spot-on as Twoflower, Tim Curry was great (as always :)) as the evil Trymon, and Christopher Lee was born to be the rumbling voice of Death. I would’ve also included Hogfather, as I think it was a better “film” in general, but since I’m not up to that book yet (I’m being pedantic and reading them in order even ‘tho they don’t really need to be) it doesn’t meet my guidelines 😛

7. Oliver! (1968)

Based on The Adventures of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

This musical classic was one of my favourite movies when I was a child. I didn’t really realise it at the time, but it was pretty amazing that a cheery musical extravaganza could be made from a story that’s quite bleak and depressing. When I did read the book (In a bumper classics collection that also included Alice in Wonderland and The Wind in the Willows!) I saw how sad the story of little Oliver Twist was and I was impressed with how close the movie got to the original story while adding some happiness and colour in the form of song and dance 🙂

8. Alice in Wonderland (1999)

Based on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll 

There has been many adaptations of this classic story that remains one of my favourites, and while I enjoyed them all to some extent this one was the closest to the book and is also an entertaining film in general. The movie covers all the important parts of the book, including parts that are often omitted (i.e. when Alice encounters the Griffin and Mock Turtle) with a bit of Through the Looking Glass thrown in for good measure. The costumes and special effects are accurate without being too flashy giving the movie a nice literary feel rather than looking like a big blockbuster like other adaptations (being a Tim Burton fan I did like his version, but it often strayed into blockbuster territory). I also thought the characters were well cast, with Tina Majorino playing the wonderfully sweet (and brunette!) Alice; Miranda Richardson as the bossy and self-important Queen of Hearts; Martin Short as the quintessential Mad Hatter; Gene Wilder as the melancholy Mock Turtle; and the fabulous Whoopi Goldberg grinning away as the Cheshire Cat.

9. Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003)

Based on Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

This is a beautiful film that fully captures the original story – a fictional telling of Dutch painter Vermeer during the period when he painted his famous work Girl with a Pearl Earring and the relationship he formed with the maid that posed for him. The movie perfectly illustrated the tension between Vermeer and the other characters; the beauty of Delft; and the intricate process of mixing paints in that period – all the elements that I loved in the book but in a visual form! I also thought the casting of Scarlett Johansson as the beautiful maid Griet was flawless as she looks remarkably like the girl in the original painting and played the coy but curious character very well. I especially liked the effect in the movie where a shot of a famous Vermeer painting would start the scene and then would blend into a live action shot which mirrored the painting – very clever, and emphasised how well they recreated everything.

10. The Hedgehog aka Le Hérisson(2009)

Based on The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery 

I told you a while back that this movie may get on this Top 10 list – and this was before I had even seen it! As soon as I was a few minutes in to watching, I knew that It would get in even if that meant that another selection was knocked out (that selection was True Blood, the series based on the Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire series by Charlaine Harris. I figured since I had expressed my love for both the book and tv series many times before it could afford to be bumped off :P). The thing that really endeared me to this movie was how it was adapted. The book is told in first person through the eyes of two main characters, and one of these characters – Paloma Josse – communicated solely through a series of journal entries, so I was wondering how they would do that in a movie, and do it well. The clever way that the creators got around this story-telling device was changing the format in which Paloma told her story – instead of her recounting what she planned to be her last days and a final examination of mankind around her, the Paloma in the movie was shooting a film where she narrated her thoughts about the world. I found this very clever and sophisticated of the film-makers – instead of forcing the written form into the film they embraced their own format and it fit really well. Another element that was added that I really dug was these little sketches and collages that Paloma creates that transition into quirky little animations that were the perfectly at home in this movie.

Well there you go you guys – I had heaps of fun compiling and writing this list and I’m glad you voted for it 🙂

And sorry it’s a tad late – I almost finished it on the 29th of October and was planning to post both lists before November began but then I was overwhelmed by study and work. I will post the second half asap but as I’m still pretty busy, it may not be up for up to a week. But stay tuned – I hope to do a small post or two soon also, as well as a few reviews that have backed up, so my recent absence will be rectified!