Often we despair when a film version is made of our favourite book. The images we’ve created in our heads don’t match up with what the film director had in mind. The locations look wrong, the casting doesn’t work. BUT occasionally, they do get it right. And what a thrill that is! Here is a list of some fabulous films that will inspire you to read these equally great books on which they were based. Do you have any to add? Let us know.
A Man Called Ove (2016) – Based on Fredrik Backman’s book. A feel good movie that still manages to get you to shed a tear as you watch the grumpy Ove learn to re-connect with the world. Very touchingly told. Rolf Lassgard is hugely sympathetic as Ove.
Rosalie Blume (2015) – Based on book by Camille Jourdy. A unusual and expected find. A French ‘indie’ quirky comedy that you weren’t expecting. What could be better. Charming balance of intrigue, humour and pathos.
Headhunters (2011)– Based on Jo Nesbø’s book. The film hit, our favourite thriller of the year when it was released, is not just the taut intelligent thriller Mr. Nesbø intended, but a slick, brilliantly acted set piece.
The Princess Bride (1987) – Based on William Golding’s book. This underground cult book became a smash cult film, appealing to both adults and younger watchers. You will end up quoting this silly, fun and funny film for the rest of your life: “inconceivable!”
A Single Man (2009) – Based on Christopher Isherwood’s book. An exquisite piece of film making, designer Tom Ford proved that his creativity and vision is not limited to fashion. Nuanced acting from the entire cast: in particular Colin Firth, whose controlled and achingly understated performance proved the power of silences. A painful and beautiful film. Will have you rushing to read this incredible book (if you haven’t already). We can’t wait for Tom Ford’s recent release, Nocturnal Animals.
Le Petit Nicholas (2009)– Based on book by Rene Goscinny and Jean-Jaques Sempe. It seemed unlikely that a live action film would capture the innocent and impudent humour of the illustrations. And yet it does. Enjoyable for children and adults alike, this is a hugely wonderful film.
The Name of the Rose (1986) – Based on Umberto Ecco’s book. One of those amazingly brilliant door-stoppers that only come around every 10 years or so, Umberto Eco’s medieval murder mystery was a huge hit when it was first published in 1980. This was a surprisingly good film version of that book starring Sean Connery.
The King’s Speech (2010) – Based on The King’s Speech: How One Man Saved the British Monarchy by Mark Logue and Peter J. Conradi. Another excellent example of Colin Firth’s talent as an actor in this film about an insignificant, self-taught Australian speech therapist and how, as the book suggests, ‘One man saved the British Monarchy’. The film is an intimate and hitherto unseen insight into the difficulties of Duke of York in his attempts to overcome his stammer to become beloved King VI. Heartwarming and inspirational, this is a film for all the family.
Apocalypse Now (1979) – Inspired by Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness. Conrad’s book is reset to the Vietnam War by director Francis Ford Coppola. Claustrophobic and intense, this investigation into the horrors of war and its penetrating damage on the psyche is an astonishing creative work based on a book of equal power. Marlon Brando is unforgettable as Colonel Kurtz.
Stardust (2007) – Based on Neil Gaiman’s book. Although we found the book to be a little flat, the film is a riot and tonnes of fun. Tongue in cheek, it can be enjoyed as a fantasy romance or a very funny romp where the actors clearly had as much fun as the viewer (notably Michelle Pffeifer’s wicked witch, and Robert de Niro’s sensitive, cross-dressing, pirate of the skies who tries to keep up appearances…).
Mean Girls (2004) – Tina Fey’s astute and funny teen film was inspired by the 2002 self-help book “Queen Bees and Wannabes” by Rosaline Wiseman. Not just a regular teen flick, Fey’s humour is scathing; but it’s superficially frothy enough to appeal to teens too.
She’s the Man (1991) – Based on William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. A fun teen movie about girls wanting to play football (soccer) that introduced Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum. It made my teens want to watch, then read, Twelfth Night. No other recommendation need.
My Private Idaho (1991) – Inspired by Shakespeare’s Henry IV part 1 and Henry IV part 2. Keanu Reeves as a gay Prince Hal? Sounds unlikely, but that’s the basis for this excellent indie film, also starring the deceased River Phoenix as a young hustler. The film is a loose interpretation of Shakespeare’s Henry IV part 1 and Henry IV part 2. Gus Van Sant’s 1991 original and artistic rendition is an achingly sad film that is also an eye opener to the world of Shakespeare’s historical plays.
The Hunger Games (2012) – Based on Suzanne Collins’ book. One of the few books, from the slew of all the ‘young adult’ books in the last years, that is actually well written, The Hunger Games is popular with Bookstoker parents. This cinematic version is a successful blockbuster that nevertheless addresses the book’s satire of a culture of excess and reality television.
L.A. Confidential (1997) – Based on James Ellroy’s book. This gritty film version of Ellroy’s noir thriller won countless awards and rightly so. A demonstration that a noir doesn’t mean simply cheap thrills, it is a superbly written/cast/acted/ directed/produced Hollywood film about corruption in L.A in the 50s.
Suggestions added by our readers:
The Leopard (1963) – Based on Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s classic about the unification of Italy and the sweeping social changes that came with it for the aristocratic Sicilian Salina family. Brace yourself for aesthetic overdose with Claudia Cardinal, Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon and Sicilian palazzos in the leading roles. A treat!
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) – Based on Erich Maria Remarque’s great classic about life for German soldiers on the front line in World War I. Academy Award Winner with a strong anti-war message.
Atonement (2007) – Based on Ian McEwan’s book, this multi award winning film catapulted Kiera Knightley to super stardom (who will forget her in her emerald green dress?). Beautifully filmed story of sibling betrayal with lifelong consequences.