Ok, so not every book to movie remake is going to be great, or even good yet they keep happening. Now I love to see my favorite books being made in a new medium but only if it isn’t shamed in the process (The Time Travelers Wife I’m talking to you). Either way, there are many great remakes in the world of books to film and you can’t overlook their magic. In my opinion, a good remake is one that takes a story you know and presents it to you in a way that makes you feel as if you are watching a whole new thing. You get emotional at parts you are supposed to and you laugh at parts that are funny even if they are things you’ve seen and heard before. Those are the reasons I picked the films below.
Not only is this one of my favorite films ever but it was also remade by my favorite director, Wes Anderson. The story was actually a children’s book written by British author Roald Dahl. He also wrote “Charlie and Chocolate Factory” but this, in my opinion, is his better story. Wes did a fantastic job adding to the story in appropriate ways to make it a feature length film and brought life to a story meant for children. I love this movie in every way and is my favorite book to film feature. It is heartwarmingly hilarious.
“Mrs. Fox: [to Ash] We’re all different.
[Points to Mr.Fox]
Mrs. Fox: Especially him. But there’s something kind of fantastic about that, isn’t there?”
The Princess Bride
Almost no child got through the 80’s and 90’s without seeing this film. However, the film is based on the 1973 novel of the same name by William Goldman. I read the book years after seeing the film but loved it just as much. Both are funny, endearing and charming. Cary Elwes was a great hero and Robin Wright captivated audiences and myself as well. There are very few love stories that are up the standard that this movie set and for which the book began.
“Since the invention of the kiss there have been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind. The End.”
Heart of Darkness (Apocalypse Now)
There are very few movies that can turn a book into a movie, COMPLETELY change the setting, and yet still be a very good representation of the book. While “Heart of Darkness” is set in the Congo many many years ago, Apocalypse Now took the book and placed in a Vietnam setting in a world where that was the most prevalent topic in American. The feel of the movie matches the feel of the book but puts it in a relatable context. That is what makes a truly great book to movie adaption.
“Part of me was afraid of what I would find and what I would do when I got there. I knew the risks, or imagined I knew. But the thing I felt the most, much stronger than fear, was the desire to confront him.”
Chuck Palahniuk is one of the great writers of his generation and he is only getting better which is why I couldn’t leave this movie off the list. Fight Club is a movie that defines our generation is a lot of ways. The need to rebel, the need to be different and the need to get out the aggression in a world where we rarely ever can. The book brings these needs to the reader’s forefront while the film captures the feelings of every reader and punches you in the face with them. From Marla to Bob and on, you can’t ignore this film.
“If you wake up at a different time, in a different place, could you wake up as a different person?”
The Virgin Suicides
If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading anything Jeffrey Eugenides than you need to asap! He wrote the book in which the movie was based on. The book was fantastically written and while the movie follows it pretty decently the main plus of the film is the casting. Kristen Dunst as the main character, Lux, was absolutely perfect. All of the sisters casting were flawless. They seemed to easily portray the feelings of despair and hopelessness that teenage girls feel all the time. Sofia Coppola, the director, knows how to evoke emotions from her viewers while bringing a world to view that is normally locked inside the mind of a teenage girl.
“Doctor: What are you doing here, honey? You’re not even old enough to know how bad life gets.
Cecilia: Obviously, Doctor, you’ve never been a 13-year-old girl.”
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
Oh, how I wish I knew if the “autobiography” that this movie is based on was truth. Chuck Barris claims while working on shows such as “The Dating Game” he was a CIA assassin. This movie chronicles his book and what he claims really happened to him. Sam Rockwell was the perfect casting choice for this character. The film is also hilarious despite the murdering, adultery and drug use (and lets be honest here, tons o’ sex). I feel like this film is worth watching even if you don’t believe a word that Chuck Barris says. (Don’t worry no one else does either.)
“When you are young, your potential is infinite. You might do anything, really. You might be Einstein. You might be DiMaggio. Then you get to an age where what you might be gives way to what you have been. You weren’t Einstein. You weren’t anything. That’s a bad moment.”
Requiem for a Dream
This movie is a sad, heartfelt movie of addiction and love and loss. While everyone watching may not have felt the pain of addiction, we all empathize with love and loss. The book of the same name, written by Hubert Selby Jr, was phenomenal, full of sadness and heartache. I cried reading and I cried watching the film. While people say, “oh another drug movie” they don’t realize its more than that. It is more than a story about heroin and it makes the viewer question what a drug is, and how easily a person can become addicted to one and not just that but also the ideal of the American dream they are trying to attain. I love how the film used rapid cuts in filming to give the viewer the sense of urgency and one-track-mindness to understand the feelings. It really brought the book to life.
HUGE HOWEVER: this is not a movie for the squeamish or the judgmental.
“Somebody like you can really make things all right for me.”
It took me a few years from when this came out to actually appreciate what a great film it was. The book, written by Carl Sagan, presents a fantastical story that the films brings to the viewer in an illustrious way. Carl Sagan helped development the screenplay to the film as well making it an even better remake. Whether you think Jodie Foster was a wise choice for the character of Ellie is definitely not important because the film is actually pretty awesome. I think everyone wants to make contact and realize they are not alone whether it is alone in the world or alone in the universe. This film gives the viewer his chance to not be alone for at least a little while.
“Palmer Joss: By doing this, you’re willing to give your life, you’re willing to die for it. Why?
Ellie Arroway: For as long as I can remember, I’ve been searching for something, some reason why we’re here. What are we doing here? Who are we? If this is a chance to find out even just a little part of that answer… I don’t know, I think it’s worth a human life. Don’t you?”
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
I actually only recently watched this film. But I loved it enough to want to read the book. This is actually not based on a book if the same name, but a partial remake of the book, “Bodies Are Where You Find Them” by Brett Halliday. It is a hilarious look at the world of Hollywood. I laughed and I felt tense and I felt relief when it all worked out in the end. But if you are looking for a great tongue-in-cheek story than this is where you need to go! Seriously.
“Harry: Yeah, boo, hiss, I know. Look, I hate it too. In movies where the studio gets all paranoid about a downer ending so the guy shows up, he’s magically alive on crutches, I hate that. I mean shit, why not bring them all back. But the point is in this case, this time, it really happened. Perry, like, lived. Yeah, it’s a dumb movie thing, but what do you want me to do, lie about it”
Dr. STRANGELOVE OR: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB
This is one of my favorite Stanley Kubrick films. I have seen it so many times and I love it more every time I rewatch it. It is loosely based on the Peter George novel, Red Alert, but is told in a way that is satirical of the time of nuclear scares. I absolutely adore the fact that Peter Sellers plays three major roles of the film. While this hardly done in a good way these days, it was done magnificently in this film. Although the titular character is not originally in the novel, and the film is portrayed as a comedy, it still envelops the novel very well. I think this is an important movie to see for everyone living in America.
“Dr. Strangelove: Mr. President, it is not only possible, it is essential. That is the whole idea of this machine, you know. Deterrence is the art of producing in the mind of the enemy… the FEAR to attack. And so, because of the automated and irrevocable decision-making process which rules out human meddling, the Doomsday machine is terrifying and simple to understand… and completely”
While there are tons of terrible remakes out there (I think we all watched the Scarlet Letter with Demi Moore), there are also some quite good ones. So remember, don’t judge a remade book into a movie based on its, well, appearance, actors or director until you actually watch it!