We’ve all done it; read a marvellous book, only to hear that it is being made into a film and felt the familiar sinking of the heart.
1. The Graduate
Classic film, probably more well known than the original book. Darkly comic, The Graduate tells the story of Benjamin Braddock, academically successful but personally unfulfilled. The book gives us much more of his back story, and he’s definitely less likeable than Dustin Hoffman’s interpretation. Without question a big part of the film’s appeal is its soundtrack, lovingly crafted by Simin and Garfunkel. It has become synonymous with the images and cutting dialogue.
2. Brokeback Mountain
Brokeback Mountain is actually a short story, written by the fabulous Annie Proulx. The film expands a snapshot that is told in a handful of pages, into an epic story of love, loss and dramatic landscape. The film takes the guts of a sharp short story and fills in the shadows. Epic. For less good adaptations of a short story, see Benjamin Button…
3. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
I may be courting controversy here, but I genuinely feel that the Potter adaptations have been brilliant. They came from a standpoint of wildly successful children’s books and committed fans. It was a tough act to follow. I think the key was Rowling’s involvement throughout. She was specific about what she did and did not want, and the result is a series of films that still contain their original potency.
4. The English Patient
The book by Michael Ondaatje is a gorgeous read. I found it as a student having already seen the film. I read it in one sitting and loved it. The film isn’t exactly the same, but the cinematography is mesmerising, and the score stands on its own. A beautiful story turned into a visual and aural treat.
5. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
Ok, this one is definitely not faultless, as the central relationship is downgraded from a loving lifelong relationship between two women into a close friendship. There is a certain level of putting Fannie Flagg’s book back into the closet. However, putting that aside, it’s a really affecting film, that brings the book to life.