Every year, dozens and dozens of movies are made based on literary works, be it a fiction, non-fiction, short story, children’s book, what have you. Even Wikipedia has to break it down to multiple subcategories to list them all. I guess the mindset in Hollywood is that if the book is successful, it could mean that there is enough public interest to see a film adaptation of it, with the hope that its considerable following would likely support it as well.
Some of my favorite movies of all times are based on books, Gone with the Wind, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, Sense & Sensibility, just to name a few. Yet, there are still more books out there we would love to see adapted to the big screen, either for the first time or as a remake of what’s been done previously. So today my guest blogger Ted Saydalavong and I team up to bring you our wish list of top five literary works each of us would like to see adapted to the big screen:
(Click on each title to link to the book detailed info on Wikipedia or Amazon)
1. Fahrenheit 451
Just finished reading it again since high school and would love to see a new film version that stays true to the book. I do hope Frank Darabont can convince someone to finance it. Maybe if The Girl With Dragon Tattoos and The Dark Tower series became huge hits, some studio finally give it a go. (read Ted’s post on Fahrenheit 451‘s remake)
2. The Talisman
Another of Stephen King novel that I love and almost made it to the big screen way back in early 2000s. The story of a 12 year old boy who has to travel across America to find The Talisman was quite an adventure and would definitely work well on the big screen. Spielberg actually bought the film rights back in the 80s and was going to make it himself but decided to do the other story of a 12 year old boy, Empire of the Sun. At one point Spielberg said he wanted to turn it into a mini-series after it didn’t make it to the big screen in early 2000s. Hopefully if The Dark Tower is a big hit and then we might get to see the film version of this book hitting local cinemas in the future.
3. Blood Meridian or An Evening Redness in the West
Cormac McCarthy’s ultra violent western epic has been in development hell for years now. At one point Ridley Scott was attached to direct but left because he wanted to stay as close to the book as possible but the producers wouldn’t grant him that wish. For those of you who’ve read the book, you know that there’s no way they include some of the things that were written on the pages. James Franco is trying to convince the producers to hire him to write and direct the film’s adaption, I hope to God that this will never happened. This is the kind of project that a more experienced and well respected director should be in charge, not some pretty boy actor who couldn’t even do a good job at hosting the Oscars.
4. A Brave New World
Aldous Huxley’s futuristic drama has been adapted to a movie twice, in 1980 and then again for a TV movie in 1998. I’ve never seen either of those but I think with a talented director and the right budget, it could be something very special. Leonardo DiCaprio still owns the film rights and he’s still trying to get Ridley Scott on board to direct, let’s it will happen soon. (rtm’s note: Blood Meridian and Brave New World are just two of the many projects Ridley was reportedly attached to)
5. The Prometheus Deception
One of the last books Robert Ludlum wrote before his death and I’m surprised that none of the Hollywood studios have picked up the movie rights yet. The Bourne films made tons of money and people seems to like seeing spy flicks, I thought we’d already see this book made into a movie by now. The story of spy who worked at a secret agency, later found out that it was actually run by Russian intelligence and that all of his successful missions actually hurt America’s interests instead of helping it. I think with a decent director and strong leading man, this could be a fun spy action/adventure flick.
1. Love Walked In
I read this book several years ago by Marisa de los Santos and was blown away by her amazing writing style and this unconventional love story. The protagonist Cornelia’s life is turned upside down the minute a little girl walks into her cafe, who turns out to be her boyfriend’s daughter Clare. What’s unique about this novel is that the writer tells the story from the perspective of Cornelia and alternating it with Clare’s. So it’s not a typical romance of boy-meets-girl, but there’s definitely a sweet romance between Cornelia and her Cary Grant-like boyfriend Martin Grace, and the unexpected one she finds as the story progresses.
There have been reports that Sarah Jessica Parker has bought the rights to the film adaptation, but that was a few years ago so I don’t know if there is any progress to it. I actually hope Parker WON’T be playing the petite, intelligent but hopeless romantic Cornelia. For one, she’s too old to play someone in her early 30s, so I’m thinking someone like Rachel McAdams or Emma Stone might work.
2. King David’s story from The Book of Samuel
(Or The David Story by Robert Alter, a translation with commentary which offers a lot of historical and cultural context to the story)
Now, you probably said there have been movies done in the past on the most famous King that ever walked this earth. There was David and Bathsheba with Gregory Peck as the titular monarch, and the much-panned 1985 version King David with Richard Gere. NBC has also adapted a modern-day retelling of King David in the 2009 series KINGS starring Ian McShane, but was canceled after only one season due to low rating. There is also a 3D Biblical epic in the works based on Cliff Graham’s historical novel Day of War (the first of the 5-book Lion of War series) which sounds very action-packed as the filmmaker would focus on the battle-filled adventures of David before he became king of Israel (per Collider).
The tricky part about adapting such a vast narrative is that it’s it can get overwhelming to contain into a 2+ hour feature film, so I’d try to focus on just one specific aspect of his life to adapt, with only brief flashbacks to a few of the milestones. Ideally I’d like to see a Lord of the Rings‘ type treatment that can include his early life (including the David vs. Goliath tale), the ‘warrior’ David prior to him being anointed as King, and his affair with Bathsheba which led to him pleading with God to save his son. Even more of a wishful thinking on my part is that the film would stay true to main source that is the Book of Samuel from the Bible, so the spiritual side isn’t just simply glossed over to just zone in to the violent and sexy parts of his life story. After all David is known as the man after God’s own heart and he wrote the Psalms, so there’s the musical side to him that could be explored as well.
I had seen two film adaptations of this before I read the book. The first was the 2007 BBC version with Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones, which then prompted me to rent the 1995 feature film starring Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds. Though in the end I thought that the film version was the superior one of the two, I still wish they’d give a fresh new spin in a feature film adaptation.
It’s perhaps my favorite story of all Jane Austen’s novels (which happens to be her last), the story of second chances between Anne Elliot and Fredrick Wentworth is enchanting as well as heart-wrenching. Anne is persuaded to break off her engagement by her family, only to be reunited again when Fredrick returns from the war as a naval captain. Will their love survive? It’s the kind of story that beguiles me and the social relations between cultural classes of that era is quite fascinating and is a good opportunity for a great ensemble cast to portray the various peculiar characters in the book. But of course it’d be fun for me to speculate who should play the two lovebirds
4. Teacher Man
This is a memoir by Frank McCourt, the author of Pulitzer Prize-winning Angela’s Ashes (which was adapted into a critically-acclaimed movie in 1999 starring Emily Watson). The memoir covers his 30-years experience as an English high school teacher in New York City and how he often struggled with insecurities and feelings of inadequacy. I haven’t read the book yet actually, but from everything I’ve read, it sounds like a great material for an engaging movie.
The Irish author is a fascinating individual with an equally fascinating story to tell, and he’s got a way to tell it. His self-deprecating humor and wit surely would make a fun script peppered with quotes like “Look at me: wandering late bloomer, floundering old fart, discovering in my forties what my students knew in their teens.”
A couple of years ago, IMDb listed this project under Gerard Butler’s profile and that his production company ‘Evil Twins’ was going to produce it, but now it no longer appears to be the case.
I read this quite a while ago and while I don’t think this was a masterpiece, I was quite taken by the doomed romance story and the tales about pursuing one’s dream. Evie is a young, aspiring actress leaving her hometown in Ohio to study drama in London, where she falls for a young punk rocker, Jake. There’s also the theme of friendship between Evie and her drama student friends, particularly the Bohemian New Yorker Robbie. It’s not a happy-go-lucky story and in fact, it’s quite tragic in parts, and it also got pretty peculiar when the ghost of her best friend visits her to remind her not to let go of her dreams. It’s an interesting character-study type of novel that might translate well to the big screen.
The author Kathleen Tessaro has a knack for describing places and situations astutely, setting the mood for her colorful characters. I could practically picture the sexy and passionate rendezvous between Evie and Jake, though what happened between them is heartbreaking. I could picture any of the three guys in this breakout performances post (especially Tom Hardy) as Jake and somebody with a more naive vibe like Amanda Seyfried could perhaps play Evie.
P.S. Speaking of book adaptation, there is also the romantic drama Last Voyage of the Valentina, the fantasy movie pitch I did a few months ago. I’d love to see that get a big screen treatment, preferably with the cast I came up with
Well, any thoughts on any of them on this list? Feel free to also add your own wish list in the comments below.