Top 10 Book to Screen Adaptations

Hiya Bookbaggers! Welcome to the second set of Top 10s voted by you ūüôā 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 ūüôā

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 ūüôā

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 ūüėõ 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 ūüėõ

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 ūüôā

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 Рa 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 Рall 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 Рvery 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 Рand 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 РPaloma Josse Рcommunicated 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 Рinstead 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 Рinstead 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 ūüôā

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!

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Top 10 Books that made me Laugh

Welcome to the first Top 10 post¬†voted for by you, my loyal Bookbaggers! The poll was really close all the way through and in the end I even had to vote myself because there was¬†a tie on the closing day. The theme that tied with this¬†one was¬†Book to Screen Adaptations and since I had already announced this theme as the winner in my last post¬†I thought I should stick with it. To be fair I will be doing the screen adaptations one next month and afterwards will post another poll with the remaining themes so you guys will have the power for a while ūüôā Also it should be noted many of these are not single books but series’ that made me laugh because I found it too hard, and not fair to choose just one from each series.

Now sit back and enjoy my Top 10 Books that made me Laugh.

1. Discworld series By Terry Pratchett

(The Colour of Magic; The Light Fantastic; Equal Rites; Mort; Sourcery; Wyrd Sisters)

The books I have read of this fantastic humor/fantasy series (listed above) have done their part to make me look like a giggling moron on a bus ūüôā They are the perfect public transport buddy as they are compact, easy to get into and make riding on the bus or train surrounded by strangers a pleasant experience. Normally when I’m reading I try not to laugh out loud unless I’m at home, but with the Discworld¬†novels I don’t have much choice. Not only have I giggled inanely¬†I have even snorted on occasion and burst out with an explosive “HA!”. The way that Terry Pratchett writes creates moments for jokes to sneak up on you – sometimes it is just a line that is so ridiculous or witty or unexpected that laughter just bubbles up and can’t be stopped. One of my favourite funny non-sensical¬†bits was from Sourcery:

It looked like a piano sounds shortly after being dropped down a well. It tasted yellow and felt paisley. It smelled like a total eclipse of the moon. Of course, nearer to the tower it got really weird.

If you want to appear totally sane in public then maybe save these for the comfort of your own home, but if like me you don’t give two hoots about people staring at you then read away!

My Discworld collection...so far ūüėČ

2. Good Omens  by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

This book combines the comic and fantastical genius of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman into a hilarious apocalyptic saga. The characters, the dialogue and the situations in general had me giggling and hooting with laughter all the way through and the plot was also pretty gripping. If you like the Discworld novels or Neil Gaiman, or even if you like the humor of Discworld but find it a bit too fantasy based and you want a bit of dark humor then I urge you to pick up this book! Pratchett and Gaiman work so well together and it really shows in this little gem of hilarity Рtruly a work that is greater than the sum of its parts and one of my fave reads of last year.

The matching Crowley and Aziraphale covers that were a more recent printing of the novel. I have the Crowley one ūüôā

3. The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams

I think I have encountered this classic tale in almost all its guises – I have read all the books of course (including the end of the series that was written my Eoin Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowl books, after Douglas Adams’ death); I have listened to the radio series that was broadcast through BBC Radio 4 (a recording of the broadcast not when it was originally played as I wasn’t born yet when it first aired in 1978); I have watched the TV series ;and the movie. The only forms I haven’t encountered yet are¬†the video game; the stage productions; the DC comics¬†and the definitive form: the towels that feature text from the first novel. And why are the towels the definitive form? Because a towel is the most useful item an intergalactic traveller can have with them and one should always know where there towel is! Fans of the series have even gone so far as creating Towel Day¬†where they carry around a towel on the 25th of May to show their love for Douglas Adams and the Hitchhikers¬†series (I have yet to celebrate Towel Day, but now that I know about it I will be ready with my towel on the 25th of May!).

Douglas Adams was a extremely¬†funny and gifted writer and the Hitchhikers Guide will always be on my list of funniest books. If you haven’t read them yet and you love a good, silly, intergalactic laugh then go find them – and don’t forget your towel!

The trilogy of four

4. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

I wish that books like these were around when I was a kid! I discovered the Series of Unfortunate Events books when I was in my late teens and borrowed the first one – The Bad Beginning – because it was short and looked like a really different kids novel. And boy are they different! The series is a blend of mystery, adventure and humor with some really funny quirks such as the author/narrator constantly urging the reader to put the book down and find something more cheery, and wonderfully hilarious definitions of difficult words used throughout. From the first page I was hooked and went on to devour the following twelve in the series whenever I could find them (mainly waiting anxiously for the one I wanted to return to the library). This is a great series that doesn’t patronize children by dumbing things down or wrapping events up nicely with a happy ending, which I think is why they have been so popular. But don’t think that they’re not for you just because they’re in the children’s section of your local bookstore or library! These are books that make you feel like a kid again and give you a good laugh for a couple of hours, and isn’t that what we all want sometimes after a long week in the adult world?

Oh, how I wish I had this box set!

5. Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy

This is another “children’s” series that most adults won’t think to read but should be reading. I started it because my brother owned the first couple and recommended them and I have had a ball through every moment of the last 5 books. Not only is this series filled to the brim with action and magic, but it also has a plethora of hilarious dialogue moments between the characters that surprise you in some of the darker moments. If¬†you like your humor dark and witty and your detectives to be straight out of a Noir film but a bit more skeletal¬†then you would love Skulduggery Pleasant. I personally am bursting with excitement because I bought the newest book – Death Bringer – for my bro¬†which I’m presenting to him this afternoon, and because I know he devours this series quicker than a shoal of piranha on a buffalo, I will¬†get to read it very soon ūüėÄ YAY!

The new book

6. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

As I have said before¬†I saw the Hayao Miyazaki anime based on this book before I even knew that there was a book! The movie was spectacular and had amusing moments but isn’t particularly a funny movie so I was expecting the same from the book, but once I started I realised that Miyazaki had focused on and enhanced the fantasy elements of the book and added his own brand of humor to it, but the real charm of the story came from the laugh-out-loud little nuances, mainly between the characters. Sophie was surprisingly funny character whose wry comments and thoughts on Wizard Howl and the situations he got himself in were classic. I still love the movie, and think it was a great adaptation that stayed true to the book, but it was Diana Wynne Jones’ words that really entertained me. The sequel – The Castle in the Air – was also really entertaining and funny but I chose Howl’s Moving Castle rather than the series as a whole because while I was reading it at my ex girlfriends house I had to stop every few minutes and explain to her what was so funny that I had burst out laughing.

7. Anything and everything by Roald Dahl

It was too hard to pick a single Roald Dahl book for this list as I have loved (and laughed at) every one I’ve read since I was a little girl. As a kid Roald Dahl books were like a special secret world we had away from grown ups, where crazy, disgusting and cheeky stuff happened and we could giggle away without our parents being any the wiser. I remember getting this rush every time I read one of his stories because often there would be stuff in them that felt naughty but you were allowed to read it because it was Roald Dahl, which all parents saw as perfectly acceptable reading material. I especially remember Revolting Rhymes and Dirty Beasts which I read over and over, delighting in the gross re-imaginings of classic fairy tales and disgustingly hilarious animals stories. I even borrowed an audio recording from the library and made a cassette copy (yes cassette!) and listened to that so many times that I pretty much knew every one by heart and would laugh pre-emptively when it came up to the best bits (to my immature self that was when ‘slut’ was said¬†during Cinderella, and when Red Ridding Hood’s knickers were mentioned :P).

Other favourites included: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory / Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator; James and the Giant Peach; The Twits; The BFG; Esio Trot; The Witches; Matilda and Roald Dahl’s autobiography, Boy. I didn’t outgrow Roald Dahl either. A few years ago at the age of 19 or 20 I asked for The Roald Dahl Treasury for Christmas and had a grand time reading all the funny little snippets from his books and tittering away to myself ūüôā

8.  The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse by Robert Rankin

I had never even heard of Robert Rankin before my friend Sarah passed this book on to me along with a bunch of other old books she didn’t want anymore many years ago. It was the title that got me at first because I couldn’t think of anything less likely to cause the apocalypse then hollow chocolate bunnies and with a title like that It was bound to be a good laugh. The book is set in Toy City, a place that is inhabited by toys and characters from Nursery Rhymes. But it isn’t a happy carefree kind of place that you would imagine, instead it is very like an ordinary seedy¬†City with¬†crime families, prostitution and serial killers. The plot revolves around the bizarre murders of famous Nursery Rhyme characters such as Little Jack Horner, Jack Spratt and Mother Goose and it’s these murders that provide the comic element. There is something¬†so wrong but satisfying¬†about reading the gruesome deaths of characters from Nursery Rhymes that you find yourself laughing for the sheer audacity of it. I haven’t read any other books by Rankin since, but he has a large range of books in a similar vein that I would love to get to one day.

Help! Chocolate bunnies!!

9. Awful End/Dreadful Acts  by Philip Ardagh

Awful End and Dreadful Acts are the first two books in the Eddie Dickens Trilogy. I have only included those two rather than the whole trilogy because when I was reading the series (around age 13) I couldn’t find the third book anywhere and so made do by reading the first two books over and over again. In the space of about a year I must’ve read both books 5 or 6 times including a couple of times where me and my friend/neighbour who was a couple of years younger than me read them out loud to each other pausing throughout as we fell down on my bed in fits of laughter. What makes Awful End and Dreadful Acts so funny is the language used. For example, they are filled with nonsense lines and literal interpretations of common sayings (such as a character suggesting that another take a seat and then demanding that they return it when the seat of the carriage is torn out). One of my favourite parts was the explanation of the illness that the main character’s parents are afflicted with,¬†which is how Awful End begins:

When Eddie Dickens was eleven years old, both his parents caught some awful disease that made them turn yellow, go a bit crinkly round the edges, and smell of old hot water bottles.

From that moment on I was a goner, falling into fits of laughter every few lines. The¬†hilarity was enhanced by strange little illustrations by David Roberts¬†¬†that were at the start of each chapter and at random points throughout. I have such fond memories of reading about poor Eddie Dickens’ adventures that while writing this post I looked up the third book – Terrible Times – on the Joondalup Libraries¬†catalogue, requested it and found out today that its waiting for me at Joondalup. I also found out that Philip Ardagh wrote a follow-up trilogy about Eddie Dickens, so I’ll probably find those too and enjoy some very light, and very funny holiday reading ūüôā

10. Love Bites: 101 Tips for Dating Guys with Fangs by Claire Hooper AND The Bro Code by Barney Stinson with Matt Kuhn

I know, I cheated. These books aren’t a series, in fact they aren’t¬†even remotely related but I’ve done that before¬†so it’s not that much of a surprise. I chose both of these books because I obtained and read them around the same time (Christmas/new years 2010) and couldn’t decide which made me laugh more and I thought it would be good to include some non-fiction in the list (‘tho the non-fiction link is quite tenuous here).

Love Bites: 101 Tips for Dating Guys with Fangs kind of speaks for itself. It’s a how-to guide for girls dating vampires that is a satirical look at dating guides and the recent fad of vampire romance novels/shows/movies etc. The book is a humourous mix of actual fan-girldom and poking fun at the girls/phenomenon that the book appears to be aimed at.¬†On top of¬†this its done quite cleverly with the tips really being things girls would have to think about when dating the undead, such as telling your parents, moving in with your vamp bf and how to be safe if you break up. Hooper is a very funny Australian comedienne that seems adorable and cheery and then says something really cutting and unexpected which is evident in the book and made it a very funny read on¬†a lazy¬†Boxing Day afternoon.

The Bro Code is a totally different kettle of fish. It is a guide for men (or bros) to live by and maintain the sacred rules of brodom. If you have seen the sitcom How I met Your Mother¬†then you may remember Barney Stinson referencing The Bro Code,¬†and this book is basically that code on paper with accompanying tips, graphs and diagrams to illustrate the various rules of brodom as well as violations of the code. I giggled most of the way through this book because I’m a fan of the show, and especially Barney and it was so well done that it really could have been made by Barney himself. A short note of warning: The Bro Code is meant to be funny, not gospel that you actually live your life by so I urge you, if you have a feminist streak don’t take it too seriously!

Well there you go, the 10 books (or more :P) that made me laugh the most. Stay tuned¬†tomorrow when I’ll post the second part of this theme – the Top 10 Books that made me Cry.