It’s week 20 of the MFRWauthor 52-Week Blog Challenge, and today’s prompt is Favorite Books Made Into Movies or My favorite movies inspired by books.
It probably would have been easier for me to come up with a list of adaptations I find uninspiring or uninteresting because that list is l-o-n-g (although not nearly s long as my list of bad remakes.) It just seems like Hollywood changes things too much. They get rid of characters and add characters, they jump over plot points I think are important and put in things I don’t think the movie needs. They sex it up and dumb it down, no matter what the book’s original content. But the task isn’t to tell you what I don’t like. The task is to discuss what I do like, so here you go: the top 5 Book-to-Movie adaptations in my world.
I’ll begin with the PBS Masterpiece series Poldark, although I don’t think it technically qualifies as a movie. There are 12 books in the series written by Winston Graham, and I’ve only read one so far, but I’m gathering my collection and soon I’ll have them all. The series follows the book I have read very closely, which always makes me happy. I’ve also read an interview with the author’s daughter in which she said that he would have approved of the series this go-round, although he disliked the 1970s version. If the author would have liked it, I’m on board. That goes a long way in my head toward recommending it. And then, of course, you have other things going for the screen adaptation, like Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark (known as Poldark and Handsome here at my house.)
The movie made from William Goldman’s classic The Princess Bride is a high on my watch list. It’s a movie I quote frequently. Can anyone hear the word “inconceivable!” without hearing it in Wallace Shawn’s unique voice? I’ll confess that I haven’t read the book but it is on my TBR stack, and I firmly intend to get around to reading it one of these days soon. The love story between Wesley and Buttercup is not what keeps me coming back to this movie, although it’s nicely told. My favorites are Mandy Pitinkin’s Inigo Montoya and several of the secondary characters.
I’m huge fan of the 1995 production of Sense and Sensibility starring Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Harriet Walter. Hugh Grant, and Gemma Jones. The scene where everyone runs crying into their rooms and Elinor Dashwood sits on the stairs with her cup of tea makes me giggle every time I see it. And I swoon every time Colonel Brandon says, “Give me an occupation, Miss Dashwood, or I shall run mad,” although my reaction may have nearly as much to do with Alan Rickman’s voice as with the colonel’s emotions. This is one of the rare movies I’ll stop to watch anytime it’s on.
Again, not a movie, but a favorite adaptation is John Adams, starring Paul Giamatti. I love the book by David McCullough. In fact, it’s a book I think every American citizen should read at least once. But I’ve been fascinated by the relationship between John and Abigail Adams for many years. When I was a very young woman, I devoured Those Who Love by Irving Stone (along with a bunch of other books about historical figures he wrote.) John and Abigail became favorites then and remain favorites to this day. Visiting John Adams’ birthplace and their retirement home, Peacefield, in Quincy, Massachusetts, was one of the highlights of my life. I thought the production of John Adams by HBO and its partners was extremely well done.
Another favorite is the Harry Potter series. Oh, I know, that sounds so cliche, but the truth is, I think the writing is clever and interesting, and the movies are entertaining. And the fact that my oldest granddaughter, the Princess, is now reading the books and quizzing me about them at every opportunity, makes them rank high on my list right now. I love that she loves to read, and that she wants to be a writer someday. I love that she gets things about characterization that most 10-year-old kids might not notice. I love that her favorite character isn’t Harry, but Ron, and that she understands that without Slytherin, there would be nothing interesting for us to read about in Harry’s world. I mean, sure, he’d be living at home with both of his parents, but…boring! So Harry and friends and J.K. Rowling get the last spot on my list today.
So there you have my top five. I’d love to hear about your favorites.
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