WHEN I WAS A CHILD I regularly incited the wrath of my schoolmates because of my preference for reading a book over spending hours watching mind-numbing cartoons or patronizing soap operas. This hasn’t changed much; I am still the boy who walks into a street sign because he is too engrossed in a novel. Books let me drift off and experience the world through someone else’s eyes all while visualizing everything in my head. In that sense, reading can be an intensely personal experience. A writer starts the novel, but the reader finishes it.
This is why when the inevitable film adaptation of a much-loved bestseller comes along- like with Fifty Shades- the responses from the reading public can range from cult-ish devotion to bitter resentment. Careless adaptations can lose a lot of money and tarnish a director’s career, but a good adaptation can be both a real money-maker and a star-making machine (hello Kristen Stewart). I wish that all book-to-film endeavors could match the quality of some of the best in the genre, but regardless I’ll always rush my local
streaming site cinema to check out the latest adaptations. Questioning eyebrows raised, pop corn clenched in my cynical fist. I always hope that the worlds portrayed on screen will match up to the ones in my imagination. And if they don’t? It’s back to the page.
Here are a few adaptations that got it oh-so-right.
One of my favorite films of all-time was originally an equally mind-bending novel by sci-fi poet laureate Arthur Clarke. Its cinematic perfection is still unparalleled today.
Stanley Kubrick turned what could have been another yawn some horror dud into surely the most claustrophobic, chilling baroque descent into one man’s madness ever seen on screen. The real feat is the ambiguity. Whereas Stephen King’s novel is about a haunted house, Kubrick’s film is about a haunted mind.
Brian De Palma’s ode to teen angst, alienation and religious guilt is perhaps the only other Stephen King adaptation that’s worth a watch. The opening scene is still shocking till this day. With a hysterically screaming Carrie being pelted with tampons by a taunting pack of school mates while showering in the locker room and experiencing her first period.
The films are flawless, with producers onto a winning formula by casting relatable actors who seem like the characters they portray, changing directors to keep things fresh, and sticking faithfully to what was already a perfect plot.
The Virgin Suicides adapted from arguably Jeff Eugenides’ greatest work. Put Sofia Coppola firmly into most critics and movie nerds ‘best directors’ list and catapulted Kirsten Dunst into one of the greatest leading ladies in film history. The influence of Coppola’s dreamy triumph has only deepened with time. Never forget who the original Suicide Squad was.