From page to screen – my favourite adaptations
I can’t even begin to count how many films and TV shows there are that have been adapted from a book.
There have been so many times I’ve started a TV show or film and it’s only then that I realise that it’s based on a book, or that it seems familiar, and I realise I’ve read the book. It seems that almost every classic book has been adapted for the screen at one point or another, often several times, and sometimes retold without you even realising that the storyline is based on a book. The Bridget Jones films were based on the books of the same names, which were inspired by Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s classic book that has been adapted for the screen (and stage) numerous times! People will always have their opinions: whether the book was better; if the film helped them see the book in a new light; who loved/hated a film and so didn’t want to read the book as a result; if they were a fan of Colin Firth as Mr Darcy, or preferred Matthew Macfadyen’s interpretation?
I personally love watching adaptations as I think it can add another level of enjoyment to a story, and if I don’t love the adaptation of a favourite book, I won’t let it detract from my love of the story – I try and see it as a standalone film.
I wanted to share a few of my favourite film adaptations – these are all films I saw after reading the books!
Book: Andy Weir
Film: Directed by Ridley Scott. Starring Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels
I absolutely LOVE this story. I wish it were true. Sam will tell you that he regularly comes home to me rewatching the film, and I listen to the audiobook to fall asleep, or whenever I go for a run.
The Martian is a science fiction story that tells the story of astronaut Mark Watney, who, through a series of unfortunate incidents, is left on Mars, presumed dead. The story tells of his efforts to establish contact with Earth and to survive on the planet. I absolutely loved the book when I read it. Mark Watney documents his time on Mars, and he’s funny and relatable. Back on Earth, NASA is putting together a plan to rescue him, and the whole world is rooting for his survival.
I personally think the adaptation sticks very closely to the story. It changes the order the way the story is told slightly, and inevitably a few bits are missed out, but the film remains true to the book, with direct quotes, and the same level of humour. Matt Damon plays Mark Watney, and he plays it exactly like I imagined him, and so while I inevitably picture him when I read or listen to the book now, that’s totally fine by me!
Books: P.L. Travers
Films: Marry Poppins (1964) – Directed by Robert Stevenson, produced by Walt Disney. Starring Julie Andrews, Dick van Dyke
Mary Poppins Returns (2018) – Directed by Rob Marshall. Starring Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda
I read the first Mary Poppins book when I was a kid (there are eight in the series), I think my Mum read it to me at bedtimes. I enjoyed it but I don’t remember being hugely interested in it until I watched the film. From what I remember, I cried hysterically for hours after Mary Poppins flew away, I was absolutely devastated. I think I went through a phase of stopping the film before she left after that. I knew every song, I would dance around, I probably made my long-suffering sister and brother act out scenes from it with me (they also had to do this with several scenes from The Sound of Music too) and I loved it. It was so full of magic. The film is adapted from the book series (rather than just one book) but naturally has a very Disney-feel to it – I remember Mary Poppins being stricter in the books, and there were actually four Banks children. Bert is also a combination of several different characters from the books.
I went to go and see Mary Poppins Returns on New Years Day and it was amazing. It was two hours of joyful escapism and I want to watch it again and again. In this story, Jane and Michael Banks are grown up, and Mary Poppins comes back to help with Michael’s children.
Books: J.K. Rowling
Films: Directed by Chris Columbus (Philosopher’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets), Alfonso Cuarón (Prisoner of Azkaban), Mike Newell (Goblet of Fire), David Yates (Order of the Phoenix, Half Blood Prince, Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 & 2). Starring way too many people to mention, but let’s say Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Helena Bonham-Carter, Alan Rickman
So. The Harry Potter books are wonderful. I grew up with them, I go back to them time and time again, I listen to the audiobooks to go to sleep (when I’m not listening to The Martian) and I can lose myself in the wizarding world within minutes. I was nine years old when I read the first book and 13 when the film came out. While my love for the books grew as the series continued, I found myself getting more and more disappointed as the films were realised. I went to go and see The Half Blood Prince in Australia at midnight when I was travelling with my best friend and she made me wait until we got out of the cinema before she let me speak, and then I just ranted solidly for about an hour (sorry Katie). I remember getting really cross at the fact Dumbledore had said horcruxes could be ‘anything’ – which was the complete opposite of what they were – they were supposed to be things that were important to Voldemort.
I’ve had to stop myself a bit here, as this could be an entire blog post in itself – should I write this?!, but I said this post was about my favourite film adaptations, but I couldn’t not mention Harry Potter. I love the films as standalone films, I think they are enjoyable and cosy and so familiar, but I don’t think they are good adaptations. They stray a lot from the story, and I understand that things will be changed, but I don’t think I’ve ever been angrier about a change than I was about Harry and Voldemort’s final battle, and Voldemort’s death. He was meant to die a mortal death, because at the end, that’s what he was. But no, he had to randomly explode. Saying all this, I actually love the adaptation of the Chamber of Secrets, I think it’s the truest to the books, and I absolutely love Kenneth Branagh as Professor Lockhart.
The Devil Wears Prada
Book: Lauren Weisberger
Film: Directed by David Frankel. Starring Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt, Stanley Tucci
I read the book soon after it was released, I had grand dreams of working at a fashion magazine and really enjoyed it – lighthearted and easy reading. However, I remember reading afterwards that Lauren Weisberger had worked for a bit as Anna Wintour’s assistant and thought it was maybe a bit…gossipy? Not malicious as such, but it seemed a little less humourless after reading that. Despite this, I absolutely loved the film. I thought Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt were amazing, and I actually think the film is better than the book. The narrative in the book got a bit lost towards the end, but I thought the film plot was pretty strong. I think the film was so good because of the casting which I think was incredible, but I think the script was great too, and I felt it showed how powerful women in business can be, and showed another side of the fashion world. Plus, oh my gosh I wanted all those clothes, and Andy’s makeover is one of my favourite scenes!
What are your favourite adaptations? Do you prefer to read the book before seeing the film?