Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - Freebie: Top Ten Good Books with Good Movie/Series Adaptations

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week a theme for a list is suggested. This week is a freebie, so I get to choose the top I want to do. So, this week's theme is Top Ten Good Books with Good Movie/Series Adaptations. Why this theme? Because it's easy to come across good books, and it's easy to come across good movies, but most of the times, if the movie is based on a book, it disappoints. It's a given that it's impossible to fit 300+ pages into two or three hours of film, but sometimes it's better to not even attempt it! (Earthsea please fans don't EVER watch Sci-Fi channel's TV movie Earthsea - you'll want to claw your eyes out and wish for memory bleach so you could forget it was ever made)

Howl's Moving Castle
Book: Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones · My Review
Movie: Howl's Moving Castle directed by Hayao Miyazaki · IMDB

It's no secret that I love this series, and having recently finished it, it means it is closer to memory. But here is an example of a good movie adaptation that doesn't think that it has to stick with the story point by point, simply takes the important, and retells everything else. It helps that Miyazaki is a superb storyteller, of course. It doesn't matter in which order you see/read it, you'll love both versions.

Everything is Illuminated
Book: Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer · LT | GR
Movie: Everything is Illuminated directed by Liev Schreiber · IMDB

I watched the movie first, and was completely in love with it. A mixture of stunning colours, humour and a poignant story, it's one of my favourite films of all time. I, of course, then wanted to read the book. It's wackier than the movie, and darker as well, but so, so good.

North and South
Book: North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell · My Review
Mini-Series: North and South produced by the BBC and directed by Brian Percival · IMDB

Again, no secret how much I love this series. If most people prefer Pride and Prejudice, I'm wholeheartedly on the North and South team - it has more than just romance, and the social commentary is not just of the individuals, but of the society in general. I found it deeper in meaning than other books of the genre, and I loved the writing. The mini-series, 4 episodes long, manages to convey the feelings of the book really well.

The Lord of the Rings series
Books: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien · LT | GR
Movies: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King directed by Peter Jackson · IMDB · IMDB · IMDB

Many call it the masterpiece of Fantasy, and they are not very far from the truth. These are great books, that have been inspiration for many others. I lost myself while reading these books, everything else becoming unimportant, and it made me believe that there were hobbits and elves and dwarfs - that Middle Earth was real. Making a movie out of these books wasn't going to be easy, fantasy never is, from clothing to set decorations, it's expensive to make it look good, and if it's anything but good, it looks downright shabby. But Peter Jackson was a fan and he did a tremendous job of it. It goes close to 12 hours of film with the extended versions of all three movies, but it means that most of the books are there, and told right.

Book: Stardust by Neil Gaiman · LT | GR
Movie: Stardust directed by Matthew Vaughn · IMDB

Stardust is a fairytale like story, which brings always a smile to my face, and then it's Gaiman, which means it is told right like I liked it. There is a hint of strangeness, a bit of humour, adventures and danger, but it leaves a warm fuzzy feeling in the end. What is there not to like? The movie captured all that, added a bit here and there, threw in a happier ever after ending and wrapped it all nicely in nice cinematography.

A Game of Thrones
Book: A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin · My Review
Series: A Game of Thrones created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss · IMDB

I admit to only giving these books a chance because of the series, I knew about them but were mentally put on the category of maybe-to-read-if-a-copy-falls-on-my-lap. But since there was a series coming, and it was looking good, I got myself a copy and read it. Totally worth it! It's ploty and complex, and even if it's not very high on the fantasy-side of elves and stuff (there are dragons, though), it's good fantasy. And the series not only looks good, it follows the books pretty well.

Books: The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi · LT | GR
Movie: Persepolis directed by Vincent Paronnaud abd Marjane Satrapi · IMDB

Another that I saw before reading, but enjoyed both versions. True, there isn't much difference, the book is a graphic novel and the animation is also done by Marjane. But what the movie brings in is the voice of the main character. Not Marjane herself, but the sarcasm in the book is very well delivered in the movie.

The Colour of Magic
Book: The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett · LT | GR
Movie: The Colour of Magic directed by Vadim Jean · IMDB

Pratchett's Discworld is an amazing universe, and sometimes not really easy to picture. But I enjoyed the adaptation, it's a good look into that world. And I loved the character's portrayals. Rincewind was very good, but no-one can play an annoying side kick quite like Sean Astin, so he was wonderful as Twoflower.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Book: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams · My Review
Movie: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy directed by Garth Jennings · IMDB

Douglas Adams's book is great as far as humour and sci-fi goes. It has all there, but it definitely on the wacky side, and this is not always well portrayed in the movies. The 2004 version of it was made to fans - not that anyone else can't enjoy it, but there needs be a predisposition to wackyness and absurd. That aside, a great adaptation of a great book.

Jane Eyre
Book: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë · My Review
Mini-Series: Jane Eyre produced by the BBC, directed by Susanna White · IMDB
Movie: Jane Eyre directed by Cary Fukunaga · IMDB

Jane Eyre has had a lot of adaptations throughout the years. I have only seen two, the BBC mini-series, before I read the book, and the 2011 movie, that I saw after reading the book. Both are excellent adaptations of this work, the first lengthier, the second making a twist in the storytelling by beginning at the middle of the book.

I have to include in this list the series Sherlock, even if the books don't really blow my mind. This retelling of the adventures of Sherlock Holmes in modern times is simply stunning. Great writing and great acting (Martin Freeman won a BAFTA, as all the internet sherlockians are aware). It doesn't require prior knowledge of the books to enjoy, because it's like Sherlock was completely reinvented, while maintaining the quirks that make his character so famous.

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