From the Page to the Screen – Movie Adaptations

More often than not, movie and TV adaptations of books are disappointing. Here, I have selected some excellent ones which, at the very least, come close to doing justice to their literary counterparts. Have you seen these? What is your verdict?

The Remains of the Day

The book is a masterpiece of unrealised love and personal and ethical restraint. The film stars Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. So. It tells the story of Stevens, a butler in England from the 1920s through to 1956. It covers the horrific political alliances of the household he ran as well as his friendship with Miss Kenton, the housekeeper.

We Need to Talk About Kevin

Clever and brutal, this is THE motherhood-gone-wrong novel that many have tried and failed to imitate. Eva struggles to bond with Kevin as a baby and tensions only escalate from that, culminating in a horrifying ending. This is contemporary literary fiction at its best. The cinematography of the film is beautiful and unique, and Tilda Swinton’s performance is unforgettable.

Call Me by Your Name

I much prefer the book to the film, but both capture the agony and glory of being in love at seventeen. This is a particularly problematic take on the topic, but Elio’s awakening still feels universal.

The Hours

A rare example of a film that may have outshined the book. This glorious retelling of Mrs Dalloway stars Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf, Julianne Moore, Ed Harris, Allison Janney, Jeff Daniels. Truly outstanding stuff.

The Turn of the Screw

The young governess of a country house in England suspects there are supernatural forces haunting the place and the children. Or are there? An ambiguous horror story done by Henry James, The Master of the Novel. No film could ever come close to Henry James’s brilliance, but if you are in the mood to not sleep for a few nights, you could watch The Others, starring Nicole Kidman. It’s not a direct adaptation of the book but it is believed to have been inspired by it.

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