Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Top 10 - Great Books to Good Movies

The Top 10 Tuesday theme this week over at The Broke and the Bookish is favorite book to movie adaptations. This is a difficult subject simply because most movie adaptations of books are not worth watching. (i.e. I don't even want to know what Jim Carrey is doing to my beloved Mr. Popper's Penguins.)

These pass my stringent adaptation guidelines:
Persuasion1. My favorite Jane Austen adaptations tend to be mini-series rather than feature films. But these two: Persuasion and Sense & Sensibility are the exception. Persuasion is the standard by which all feature length film adaptations of Austen ought to take a clue. Emma Thompson is the screenwriter the others ought to imitate. Other favorite Austen adaptations: Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Northanger Abbey.

 North & South2. North and South. Yet another mini-series instead of a film. So, so good. Better than the book, in some ways and I almost never say that.

A Room With a View (Two-Disc Special Edition)3. A Room with a View. Sure, it's just a little bit dated now. But this Merchant-Ivory film is an example of why Merchant-Ivory became synonymous with quality.

The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy (Widescreen Edition)4. Lord of the Rings. I hate what Jackson did to Faramir and Sam and, for that matter, Aragorn (character assassination is not too strong a term) but I feel like Peter Jackson did love Middle Earth, even if he didn't understand it. Which is more than I can say for whomever is making those awful Narnia movies.

Little Women (Collector's Series)5. Little Women, with Katherine Hepburn or Winona Ryder. (I've seen the June Allyson version but it's not a favorite). Sure, I know the most recent version is a little too...um, modern, I guess is the term, especially as concerns Marmee and her feminist overtones (considering which actress was portraying her, I think we got off easy). I especially love the music and the portrayal of Professor Bhaer in the Winona Ryder version.

Little Dorrit6. Favorite Dickens adaptations (once again these are mini-series instead of feature films): Bleak House and Little Dorrit. Adapting Dickens is not easy, I would imagine. All those characters! All those implausible connections! But these two are very well done.

Henry V7. Favorite Shakespeare adaptations: Henry V. By Laurence Olivier or Kenneth Branagh. Stirring, because of the source material, but also because of the lead actors, the music, the violence. Oh, wait, I don't like violence. But anyway, these are good despite the violence.

Gone with the Wind (Two-Disc 70th Anniversary Edition)8. Gone With the Wind. Not a favorite, per se, but how can we talk about book-movie combos without talking about this one? Vivien Leigh and Scarlet and inextricably intertwined in my mind. If you don't like Leslie Howard's version of Ashley (I really, really don't) try to find a copy of The Scarlet Pimpernel because he is great in that. Actually, that is a great adaptation in its own right, but they change the ending a bit, which is disappointing because the ending in the book is just so perfect.

Swiss Family Robinson (Vault Disney Collection)9. The Swiss Family Robinson and Mary Poppins. Sure, they're "Disney-fied" versions of the stories. But they both make for great family movie viewing. And, though I hate to admit it, I think Mary Poppins is actually better than the original books. That, folks, is hard to do.

Anne of Green Gables10. Anne of Green Gables. Yet another mini-series. Alters the story in unfortunate ways. But Megan Follows is a great Anne and Colleen Dewhurst is Marilla and that's all there is to that discussion.

So, what are your favorite book to movie adaptations? And please, please don't say Little House on the Prairie. No one yet has adapted Laura Ingalls Wilder to my satisfaction.

This post is linked to Top 10 Tuesday at the Broke and the Bookish and also Oh Amanda.
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