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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Top 10 Movie Adaptations of Books.

Hey Librarywalas!

Compiling a set of criteria to judge which movies adapted from books are the best is almost as difficult as compiling the list itself. Listing those adaptations that have garnered the biggest box office is simple enough, but to many, that would exclude a number of “best” adaptations. Should only faithful adaptations make the list? Bestsellers and blockbusters? Critically acclaimed? Classics?

This list includes adaptations that, for the most part, fit most of those criteria. Inevitably, some excellent films inspired by literature have been excluded. In the end, any top ten list that is not based entirely on statistics is bound to be subjective. This compilation, however, includes films likely to be included on many lists of the top ten movies adapted from books.

 1. The Harry Potter series

It is impossible to exclude the Harry Potter film franchise from the list of top ten adaptations. A decade of J.K Rowling bestsellers inspired a decade of blockbuster movies. The films managed to meet the expectations of millions of avid fans, an impressive feat in itself.

 2. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Fans of Middle Earth had to wait nearly fifty years for the film industry to develop the technological advances necessary to bring J.R.R. Tolkien’s world to life. Peter Jackson’s films captured the heart of the books that propelled the fantasy genre into mainstream.

3. The Godfather

While Mario Puzo may not make the list of great authors, Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptations of the book have become classics. The inside look at the Mafia was made memorable by stellar performances by a star-studded cast.

 4. Dracula

While the Twilight movie franchise delights fans of Stephenie Meyer’s books, this list pays homage to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, adapted deliciously in Tod Browning’s 1931 film of the same name. Bela Lugosi’s portrayal of the vampire is unforgettable.

5. To Kill a Mockingbird

 Literary masterpieces can be the hardest to recreate on film, but Robert Mulligan’s adaptation of the Harper Lee novel succeeds beyond expectation, capturing the underlying terror of the segregated American south as seen through the eyes of a child. Gregory Peck’s portrayal of lawyer Atticus Finch is simply stunning.

6. The Shining

 Many Stephen King novels have been adapted for the screen, but only one was directed by Stanly Kubrick, and only one starred Jack Nicholson. Kubrick’s fine attention to detail and Nicholson’s intense portrayal of insanity added layers of suspense to the film.

 7. Schindler’s List

 Few films have captured the horrors of the Holocaust better than Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Thomas Keneally’s book. The movie would stand on its own merits, even if not based on a harrowing but inspiring true story.

 8. 2001: A Space Odyssey

Arthur C. Clarke wrote a fine book, but it is doubtful even he could have imagined the impact that Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation made on the film industry. The film also had a profound influence on the way many people think about science and religion.

 9. Great Expectations

 David Lean’s version of the Charles Dickens work is a premier example of how effective adaptations can be when the characters of a classic novel are brought to life. The viewer is immersed into Pip’s world, sharing his encounters with each eccentric character in a way seldom experienced in cinema.

 10. Rebecca

 Including David O. Selznick's adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's 1938 novel in this list pays homage not only to the book and the film, but to the performance of its stars, Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine, and to the film noir genre. Rebecca is a study of stylized suspense.

Conrad King is a contributing writer at

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