Friday, April 21, 2006

Best Film Adaptations?

The Guardian has drawn up a list of the 50 best film adaptations of all time, as determined by "a panel of experts". The British public will have the chance to vote for their favourites in branches of Waterstones and Borders, before the winner is revealed at the Guardian Hay Literary Festival at the end of May. And the nominations are:
1984
Alice in Wonderland
American Psycho
Breakfast at Tiffany's
Brighton Rock
Catch 22
Charlie & the Chocolate Factory
A Clockwork Orange
Close Range (inc Brokeback Mountain)
The Day of the Triffids
Devil in a Blue Dress
Different Seasons (inc The Shawshank Redemption)
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (aka Bladerunner)
Doctor Zhivago
Empire of the Sun
The English Patient
Fight Club
The French Lieutenant's Woman
Get Shorty
The Godfather
Goldfinger
Goodfellas
Heart of Darkness (aka Apocalypse Now)
The Hound of the Baskervilles
Jaws
The Jungle Book
A Kestrel for a Knave (aka Kes)
LA Confidential
Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Lolita
Lord of the Flies
The Maltese Falcon
Oliver Twist
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Orlando
The Outsiders
Pride and Prejudice
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
The Railway Children
Rebecca
The Remains of the Day
Schindler's Ark (aka Schindler's List)
Sin City
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold
The Talented Mr Ripley
Tess of the D'Urbervilles
To Kill a Mockingbird
Trainspotting
The Vanishing
Watership Down
So what's missing? I just know that the Visitor is going to drop by and exclaim "Where's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas?" And Jane Sunshine is going to lament the leaving out of Angela's Ashes.

And which of the above would you vote for? Forced to choose one I might go for The Talented Mr. Ripley. But it's a tough choice.

Some readers' opinions in the Guardian blog, and here are some of my thoughts about film adaptations in an earlier post.

15 comments:

FBT said...

those idiots have left out David Lean's Great Expectations. Obviously they know nothing and I cannot be bothered to read the rest of the list.

FBT said...

I read some more. Sin City?! Sin City is one of the worst films I have ever seen. I walked out of it and I have only walked out of 2 films in my entire life. The other one was Caligula.

And no Lawrence of Arabia? Grrr!

eyeris said...

Sin City was brilliant. Movie AND book.

Trainspotting too.

Erm. most conspicuous by its absence award: The Lord of the Rings...

The Visitor said...

Where's Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas???

animah said...

It's not clear which film adaptations are being referred to. There are a number of Alice In Wonderlands (although I have to say that the animators of the Disney version were probably high on the same substance that Lewis Caroll was on - just look at the Jabberwocky scene), and I remember Redgrave's daughter, what's her name being brilliant as the Queen of Hearts in the HBO version.

Lord of the Rings is very obviously missing. Perhaps Tolkien would have taken umbrage on the Peter Jackson's liberty in giving women more prominence than he would have liked.

Which Pride and Prejudice? Who can beat Colin Firth in a wet shirt? A scene that stays with many intelligent and cultured women today.

Which Charlie and the Choc Factory? A big CCF fan friend of mine was very upset about the entire psychoanalysing of Willy Wonka in the latest version. I however loved the darkness of it. And Johnny Depp comes close to Colin Firth for the quirky intelligent and cultured woman of today.

What I enjoyed was Prince of Tides. The movie was enjoyable, but the book was pure delight, so so beautiful. That's my vote for missing adaptation. Hey wait a minute, where's Room With A View!!! Passage to India, Howards End?

Can I vote for Empire of the Sun, even if I didn't read the book, but always wanted to, just for that one line when they were trudging with their belongings out of Shanghai and suddenly the sky lit up (was it the Hiroshima bombing?) "as if God had taken a photograph". Wow! That alone made me want to read JG Ballard.

Did the filmmakers of English Patient read the book?

snowdrop said...

i'd pick Oliver Twist - easy choice, when there's only 6 on the list where i've both read the book and watched the movie! Pride and Prejudice a close second - the BBC version. have yet to watch the latest adaptation.

hmmm... for once, i can say 'i need to watch more shows!', as opposed to 'i need to read more books' ;)

Sharanya Manivannan said...

I think sometimes books and their movie versions should be taken as the separate entities they are (except maybe in cases where the book has the kind of cult following that any deviation would disappoint -- in those cases, I can't imagine the sleepless nights any filmmaker aware of the burden on their shoulders goes through).

I loved The English Patient - the book. And at the time I watched the movie (I read it first though), I loved it too, though years later, it's the book that is more memorable to me. But I hated how they took certain things out of the celluloid versh - Kip's reaction to Hiroshima for instance. I could appreciate it as a movie by itself but not a movie version of the book.

The thing with adaptations, I think, is that ultimately they'll never satisfy every reader. That's because cinema and writing are two distinct artforms - just because the way one story is told in one artform appeals to two different people doesn't mean they'll concur when it is told in another artform.

Walker said...

Not quite sure how they could include The Maltese Falcon (Dashell Hammett) whilst ignoring Double Indemnity (James M. Cain). They're both as important as each other.

Jordan said...

As I've said before, I'm content as long as they include LOLITA and LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES.

Anonymous said...

Where's Gone with the Wind ? that was a classic. And where's Jane Sunshine (whether or not that's a classic ?)

Seth Gecko said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Greenbottle said...

best of list has never been the best of anything...but since we're at it, where's "nosferatu" werner herzog's great adaptation of bram stoker's dracula...or 'the exorcist' ..or even stephen king's 'the shining'...

3rd Chimp said...

I'm with you, Talented Mr. Ripley, EXCEPT the bogus ending in which Ripley not only commits an extra murder (or was it two?) but even worse, "pays a price" in guilt -- Ripley NEVER felt guilty. That wasn't just artistic license, it utterly betrayed the novel.

So maybe Maltese Falcon would be my pick from the list...but my vote for missing "best" might be The Wizard of Oz (1939) or Gone with the Wind (ditto), both superb movies and superb interpretations of the original material. Of course, they are both American movies...how about My Brilliant Career, The Getting of Wisdom and The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith from Australia? Throne of Blood (Macbeth) from Japan? King Lear (Russia)?

Oooo, we could play this game FOREVER....:-) I'm sure I've forgotten zillions I could mention.

3rd Chimp said...

EMMA! The Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam version. I know, lots of folks HATE Gwyneth, but I thought she was ideal as Emma.

And I guess since I hated the ending of Ripley, I can't really vote for that. :-)

How about The Big Sleep? Marvelous adaptation. And To Have and Have Not, which was a great movie made from what the director (Howard Hawks, or was it John Huston) called Hemingway's worst novel.

bibliobibuli said...

yes, the list goes on and on and on ...

3rd chimp! how great to see you back ...