Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Book to Movie Adaptations

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is "book to movie adaptations".

I had to give this some thought. In general, I truly hate book-to-movies, I can't help it. I am a plot purist. I figure, why buy the rights to something and then change it? If you think it needs to be changed, then you don't really want to make IT into a movie, you want something else as a movie. . .

So, with all that in mind, my first thought was to pass up this week's topic, or to post a snarky "none!" and be done.

I even considered writing a list of the top ten worst adaptations (viewed prior to 5-6 years ago when I quit trying to watch them), which would include the few Harry Potter movies I did watch, The Birds, and A&E's atrocious attempt at Frenchman's Creek (just to name three).

After musing over it, though, I find that there are some good adaptations out there. None of which, I note, are Hollywood films. Furthermore, all but one of them are miniseries, which has the luxury to take the time to stick to the book, and therefore are usually much closer to the novel than movie versions.

1-7 are all BBC adaptations of Jane Austen novels, and all of them well done:
1. The 1972 BBC adaptation of Emma.
2. The 1983 BBC adaptation of Mansfield Park.
3. The 1981 BBC adaption of Sense and Sensibility.
4. The 1980 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.
5. The 1995 BBC adaptation of Persuasion (and one of my all time favorite movie versions of anything).
6. The 1971 BBC adaptation of Persuasion.
7. The 1986 BBC adaptation of Northanger Abbey.

8. A&E did a good adaptation of Pride and Prejudice as well, in 1995, which brought Austen, Darcy and Colin Firth to the spotlight. This miniseries, and Firth's brooding good looks, probably did more for the Austen revival than anything.

9. The 1997 British/German miniseries adaptation of Rebecca. Again, a miniseries can spend so much more time telling the story, and this one did well. Plus, casting Diana Rigg as Mrs. Danvers was a stroke of genius!

10. The 1981 BBC miniseries of Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited; some excellent casting and pretty darn close to the book. I've watched this through many times.

Maybe some time they'll do a worst list so I can vent spleen on some of the horrid adaptations I've seen. In the meantime, read these books!!! They are all excellent. Oh, and watch the miniseries sometime, if you'd like.

Edit: Oh! I can't believe I left this one off my list! Thanks to the Bookzilla post, I am reminded of the 1982 version of The Scarlet Pimpernel, with a youngish Ian McKellan as the villain. It's another fantastic two-parter that I have watched again and again and sticks rather faithfully to one of my favorite novels. It was a "made for TV" British version, but I'm not sure who produced it. Dashedly good, though!


  1. I think you prefer miniseries because they're longer, and there's more room to fit in all the plot that would be left out of a 90-minute film. I agree heartily. Nice list of the classics!

  2. Absolutely! For a purist, it's hard to let go of even little plot points! :P

  3. very nice list
    I agree
    what did you think of Gone with the wind ?

  4. I saw the movie first, K, and then read the book so it was a shocking read, to see other kids and all this other life going on that I knew nothing about from the movie.

    GWTW is the first movie I ever sat still to watch all the way through--at age 4! I tried to read the book for the first time (precocious reader) when I was so young I didn't know what a "darkie" was. When I asked Mom, she gently suggested I try another book.

    It was the favorite movie of my Mom and her two sisters and that movie's culture was a big part of my growing up years, so. . . While I think it's a pretty poor adaptation in many ways, I have a strong emotional attachment to the movie (and was not as strongly impressed with the book as I probably should have been) and that makes me a poor judge.