Love Means Never Having to Say You’re SorryJune 20th, 2011 | Posted by in Movie Reviews | New Releases
I have always fancied myself a reader, albeit a bit of a pretentious one. I relish every time a popular book comes up in conversation so that I can be sure to mention that I’ve read it. Literary adaptations come up in nearly every film discussion, and I am the first to interject a wise “The book was better.” Classic heartbreaks include The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Jane Eyre and, most recently, Water for Elephants. My aggressive assertion that the movie is always worse has become a knee-jerk reaction, although I will now grudgingly admit that it is not always the case. It’s rare, but there are a few films that rival, and perhaps even outshine, the original text.
Take Erich Segal’s Love Story. Both film and novel appeared in 1970, the book acting as a preview of sorts for the Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw release. It is cheesy and over the top, but I still remember how my uncontrollable sobbing nearly kept me from finishing the book. O’Neal is the perfect cinema hunk in Love Story: rich, brilliant and in love with a teacher. The acting is unapologetically bad (although both received Oscar nominations), but love means never having to say you’re sorry.
The seven Harry Potter novels seem simply made for film adaptations. Magical elements, beautiful settings, young love and wizard battles all make for one of the most profitable franchises of all time. Complement these elements with a good-looking cast and charming British accents and you have guaranteed success. With the final film coming to theaters next month, I think we should all have bets placed on the future careers of young stars Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe – I know I do.
You can laugh, but Jumanji is a childhood favorite. How this film went through award season unrecognized is still beyond me. Robin Williams is in his prime, Kirsten Dunst is miraculously un-annoying, and wild African animals from a mysterious board game take over a small New England town. The Chris Van Allsburg text has nothing on this: black and white images, limited text and in the end, the kids put the game in clear view. What lesson is that? Wild African animals run amok and then they just place the game back under a tree? Throw it in the water for the French to find like Williams did in the film. Get that crap out of the USA! Although I recognize that this film is in another, perhaps lower, league than my other selections, the great improvement from the text deserves recognition. Plus, every list needs a wild card.
Although the critics and I still disagree on the charm of Jumanji, I defy anyone to question my selection for the best film adaptation of all time: 1962′s To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s based on one of the greats of American literature, but even the most die-hard fans of the book recognize it as a masterpiece. Gregory Peck is perfection as Atticus Finch, the caring father and small-town attorney. His Academy Award-winning portrayal of Harper Lee’s classic character earned him AFI’s award as the greatest movie hero of the 20th century in 2003. Every careful change to the original novel makes the film stronger. This is without a doubt my favorite book and this film complements Lee’s text perfectly.
Well folks, those are my selections for the great film adaptations. Almost all others should probably not have been made and were ultimately huge disappointments to readers everywhere. I’ll finish this argument with a mere mention of Twilight and the horrific three, soon to be four, films that were created in its honor. Do you agree with my stance? Which films taken from books do you think were the best? The worst? Tell us your thoughts here!