Some of the best stories are those we have heard before. Original content is a great thing in cinema, but so too is strong source material. Today, our writers discuss their favourite films which are adapted from another source.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
A film that I feel really honours its source material is The Perks of Being A Wallflower. I know it’s been discussed about a hundred times already in this daily challenge, but I haven’t talked about it yet, so hey, why not.
Honestly, I think this film does an excellent job of adapting the book. It’s pretty faultless, I completely see why they cut the bits they did (a lot of the scenes I’m thinking of are actually deleted scenes on the bonus features of the DVD though!). I can imagine it’s quite hard to adapt a letter-format book into a film without being too pretentious or having an overkill of narration. However, this film has a really nice balance of action and moments where Charlie can reflect on events and his mental health.
I think the casting is pretty spot on in this film, Logan Lerman as Charlie is definitely the highlight of his career (so far). Ezra Miller is the literal perfect Patrick, with enough humour and fragility to play the role convincingly. I’m less convinced by Emma Watson’s wavering American accent and how much she isn’t like the book description, but I think the short hair works better for Sam, and Emma Watson really captures her well. All of the friendships on screen feel very real, and it makes this film feel very special and sentimental to a lot of people.
One thing that I do find strange about the film is that they changed the ‘tunnel song’. In the book, I’m pretty sure it’s Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Landslide’, but in the film, it’s ‘Heroes’ by David Bowie. I’m not mad about the decision because both songs are excellent, but I wonder why they decided to change it. Maybe for a more upbeat teen feel? But then again, I don’t think The Smiths give off that vibe, and certainly not ‘Asleep’. Or most of this film, to be honest.
Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
I recently finished reading Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan and having seen the film so many times it is an adaptation I’m pretty happy with. When it comes to film adaptations from books I always get a bit apprehensive as nine times out of ten the films are never as good as the books. Good examples being The Girl on The Train (2016), The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013), The Golden Compass (2007), and a lot of Stephen King adaptations such as Pet Semetary (2019) and In The Tall Grass (2019). But there are a select few I’m happy with, such as the Crazy Rich Asians movie.
I actually fell in love with this movie when it first came out, with the incredible and perfectly selected cast (Awkwafina and Ken Jeong acting together, what more can you ask for?!), to the stunning locations they filmed at in Singapore and all the hilarious scenes between Peik Lin and Rachel.
The film adaptation runs somewhat close to the book apart from a few changes here and there, and an entirely different ending (not the ending I was expecting). But both endings are good, so I can’t really complain. Like most film adaptations I found I prefer the book but the film is still incredible and followed the main parts of the book.
Crazy Rich Asians is about Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) and Nick Young (Henry Golding). Rachel, an economics professor, and New York native follows Nick Young, her long-term boyfriend, to Singapore to meet his family and accompany him to his best friend’s wedding. However, she is shocked to find out that Nick belongs to one of the richest families in Singapore and his family isn’t any ordinary family.
The cast truly made this film – there are so many incredible actors and Awkwafina deserves an Oscar for her performance as Peik Lin!
Pride and Prejudice (2005)
I have a love/hate relationship with film adaptations of books. Sometimes, it goes brilliantly – The Hunger Games (2012), The Perks of being a Wallflower (2012), Emma (2020).However, sometimes it can go terribly terribly wrong – let’s not even talk about the Percy Jackson films (I am still bitter). However, today I am going to be a basic white bitch and talk about Pride and Prejudice – not my favourite book of Austen’s, if not because it is simply overrated but most definitely one of the best film adaptations I’ve ever watched on the big screen.
Starring Kiera Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen, I don’t think I’ve seen a better looking cast for the roles of the Victorian goddess Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. They do a brilliant job of bringing to life the characters angst and tension – that scene when Darcy says he likes women who read and Elizabeth closes her book to tell him off for it? Brilliant.
It’s the little things in this movie that brilliantly bring to life the despair and the romance that is filled within every word on the page. All I’m going to say is…the hand flex, the boiled potatoes… No one even kisses in this film and yet it is has some of the most steamiest scenes filled to the brim with sexual tension the romance genre has ever seen. The rain scene is the single most sexually charged scene in the history of the moving image and I love every single second of it because you can hear Austen’s dialogue in your mind as your watching it and it works. It truly works.
Austen wrote about propriety, decorum, rules and manners but underneath it all she was also concerned about romance, love and individual desire. This film captures the very spirited torment of her most well-loved novel: the push and pull between prudence and romantic desire. Also, aesthetically, Joe Wright’s constantly moving camera – almost always swirling, tracking or panning mirrors the tug of war, the battle of wills, the struggle of love of both Elizabeth and Darcy that begins from page 1 in the novel.
If you’re a fan of Pride and Prejudice, go watch this adaptation because it single handedly revolutionised the romance genre and knocked every single other book adaptation out the park. It gets everything right; a perfect piece of art.
The Outsiders (1983)
Before teen-angst hits like The Breakfast Club (1985) there was The Outsiders. Considered to be the first in a string of films featuring the same actors known as “The Brat Pack”, Francis Ford Coppola adapted S.E. Hinton’s young adult book of the same name, following the rivalry between two gangs known as the greasers and the socials, aka the Socs, during the 1960s.
The Outsiders primarily focuses on Ponyboy Curtis (C. Thomas Howell), a greaser living with his older brothers Darry (Patrick Swayze) and Sodapop (Rob Lowe) as they keep up a tough persona alongside their friends to avoid violent threats from the wealthy Socs who live on the opposite side of town. When their friend Johnny (Ralph Macchio) accidentally kills a Soc, Ponyboy and Johnny go on the run on the advice of miscreant and fellow greaser Dally (Matt Dillon). The film also features early roles for upcoming stars such as Tom Cruise, Emilio Estevez and Diane Lane, with the former two being apart of Ponyboy’s gang and the latter a Soc who connects with Ponyboy despite their supposed rivalry.
Based on one of my favourite books, The Outsiders focuses on the importance of friendship and brotherhood, and people shouldn’t be judged based on appearances or social status.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)
Books are the basis for many films, some work and others don’t and can even disrespect the source material. But I am grateful that some films were respectful to their origin, especially when the book is among my favourites. Contrary to popular belief I’m a fan of the occasional American high school drama (and no this does not include High School Musical, 2006). Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012) is one of my favourite films as is the book but for whatever reason, maybe Sophie Hicks choosing it and I don’t want to seem like a copycat again, I decided to pick Me and Earl and the Dying Girl for day 26 instead.
Following amateur filmmaker Greg and his best friend, sorry “co-worker”, Earl who befriends a girl diagnosed with leukemia. The film is as sad as it sounds and makes for an emotional watch but I am grateful with how much the movie sticks to the novel written by Jesse Andrews. All the characters are great and I particularly love Jon Bernthal’s performance as cool history teacher Mr. McCarthy. The editing and cinematography of this film are beautiful and are part of the reason I keep coming back to this film. One of the best parts of the film for me has got to be the amateur films Greg and Earl have made and we get shown over the course of the film. Acting almost as an homage to classics of cinema, the two of them make films based on funny versions of film titles like A Clockwork Orange (1971) became A Sockwork Orange.
If you are a fan of Perks of Being a Wall Flower then I definitely recommend giving this film a try. Or read the book. Or both.
The Big Short (2015)
There are so many excellent films when it comes to ‘adapted from somewhere else’. You have all the novels that have been changed and all the true stories and biopics. This film however is by far my favourite adaptation. It’s adapted from true events (but isn’t afraid to admit when it’s bending the truth) as well as being inspired by a book of the same name. At the time I saw this film I knew a bit about the mortgage crash of 2008. After this film I was fascinated by the Machiavellian characters of pure evil (bankers) that caused it to happen as well as the very real-life effects that it had on millions of people. I was hooked. This is only touching on how great this film is. It’s also crammed with hilarious, commanding performances from the likes of Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling and a quite excellent cameo from Margo Robbie. This film is clear cut and informative while also being funny and razor sharp. I can’t implore you enough to watch it.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)
I love books. Confession: I especially love young adult romance books about things that would never happen to me. Enter Jenny Han’s trilogy To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before – where Jara Lean writes letters to all her past crushes, only for them to mysteriously be sent out.
Yes, I know I’m a hopeless romantic. Yes, I know, I should probably get a life.
I love these films. I don’t care how cheesy, it is or how convoluted the plot lines might be. They’re heartwarming, funny and take me back to being fifteen with a coming-of-age soundtrack that I want to blare out a car driving through the countryside like a stereotypical protagonist. They’re both beautifully filmed and I’ll happily re-watch them any day. Just read the books before you watch the films, for the love of god.
On the Road (2012)
Okay, shoot me. Walter Salles’ adaption of my all-time favourite novel is not very good. Kerouac’s unbelievably beautiful prose do not shine through, while the sordid lives of our protagonists are centre stage, the wrong way round. The writing is not great, the adaption not judicious enough, the sex and drug use isn’t loving or intense, just gratuitous. The music scene doesn’t feel absurdly casual. But I love the film, alright, leave me alone!
I am undoubtedly a fan girl. I love anything based on Kerouac; I just love it. Regardless of how good it is, or how bad. I love it. On the Road makes me feel special, because on some level, it’s the story I feel the most connected to.
But one thing which the film does exceptionally well, it’s one saving grace, is how amazing it shows us America and Mexico in the 1940s and 1950s. The acting is also pretty good. But other than that, it’s a fairly poor film. But there’s something, something which I can’t explain. I love the story, I love the book, so I love the film. The way someone loves their family. It doesn’t matter how useless they are, you love them anyway.
Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
The truly wild thing? Just how much this makes me cry.
Adapted by Spike Jonze from ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ by Maurice Sendak, possibly one of the most loved children’s picture books ever, this thankfully doesn’t mess up the cherished magic of the original. Instead it captures its adventure and childish wonder, through a lovingly playful soundtrack by Karen O, and maybe my favourite mix of CGI, puppets, and costume ever on screen, bringing the monsters to life in a way that is visually exciting but so truthful to the original drawings.
I watch this sometimes if I’m sad and can’t sleep; it doesn’t deny or ignore bad feelings, and some scenes are explicitly very sad, but it ultimately feels like a childish comfort, like there are kind monsters somewhere deep in a nearby wood who will squash me in a massive group hug until everything is ok again.
I did have to think about this a little bit, however, It was my first instinct when I read this category. My runners up were of course other Stephen King adaptations, such as Carrie (the 1976 one obviously) and Misery (1990). When done right, adaptations of King’s novels can be amazing. But it hurts us Constant Readers when we see these movies turn out bad, which is more often than not. For me, It is one that does it right. Not perfect, but right.
Directed by Andy Muschetti, this new revival of King’s 1986 novel divided opinions, despite being the highest grossing horror movie of all time. It differed entirely from the 1990 miniseries, and strayed from the book in ways that the miniseries did not. This was why it was critiqued so heavily, with Muschetti and his team taking many creative liberties. But it ultimately created a perfect adaptation for our generation. It is brilliantly cast (as is Chapter Two, 2019). It also finds that perfect balance between horror and comedy, which is essential for this story. It is a horror, but it’s a coming of age too. I don’t think I’ll ever forget seeing It in the cinema for the first time. Those first few shots are incredible and so chilling. Plus, the soundtrack and the score? Perfect. There are still things I would have done differently, if we’re being picky. But it remains to be one of my favourite films, one of the few horror movies I find myself going back to.
Persepolis is a French Iranian film adapted from Marjane Satrapi’s autobiographical graphic novel. It follows the story of a young girl, Marji, who grows up during the Iranian Revolution of 1979.
While educational to those who are not familiar with the events of that war, this film, much like the novel, never feels dry. This is because the historical side is contextualised from the point of view of a real family. Even though the circumstances might be estranged to most, it would be reductive to say that the characters are relatable. In fact, the storytelling succeeds conveying intensely human stories, in a way that is rarely observed in cinema.
The tension of the setting is beautifully off set with the wit of the main character, making this film incredibly funny. Not only is it entertaining and educational, it is also a thoughtful tale: every plot point contributes to a larger theme being drawn. From Western interference in the Middle East, to the exposure of the hypocritical nature of extremism, the jokes land because they are rooted in larger truths and are not bogged down by ignorance. In particular, the topic of martyrdom, and the author’s contempt for it, is smartly commented on.
Despite how much I love Ratatouille (2007), the fact that this movie lost to the Academy Awards to it is disgraceful. Everything from the animation to the narrator herself is incredibly distinctive, making this one of the more unique animation films out there. The black and white animation is simply stunning. In particular, the conversations Marji has with either God or her grandma are accompanied by delicate animation, enhancing the profoundness of what is being said. These result deeply moving because, despite the unusual setting, they connect to deeper truths that are applicable to everyone.
Expertly drawing out a distinction between governments and citizens, this film is clever, funny and refreshingly honest.
crazy rich asians it jane austen me and earl and the dying girl on the road Persepolis pride and prejudice stephen king the big short the outsiders the perks of being a wallflower to all the boys ive loved before where the wild things are
Last modified: 10th May 2020