Our local paper asked for "Best Movies Based on Novels." The following three came to mind pretty quickly. I'll follow this with an addendum.
The Lord of the Rings (2001-03)
Despite plot changes and deletions, Peter Jackson exuberantly devotes ten-plus hours to J.R.R. Tolkein’s never-can-be-filmed work—and pleases just about everybody, even those who find the books a bit creaky.
In Cold Blood (1967)
If Capote’s work is a “nonfiction novel,” then Richard Brooks’ film is a fictionalized documentary. And thanks to Conrad Hall’s dust-bowl-noir cinematography and Quincy Jones’ exclamatory music—and most of all, Scott Wilson’s and Robert Blake’s Dick and Perry—the movie gazes into the abyss with lidless courage.
Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (2005)
The first postmodern novel (which just happened to be written in the late eighteenth century), Tristram Shandy’s fractal-ized narrative becomes a Russian nesting doll of a movie-within-a-movie—without restraints. As funny a deconstruction of an already-deconstructed book as it is of filmmaking—and the egos necessary to make a movie about a man who cannot stop referencing himself.
More great novels-to-movies. The rule for me here is that the movie should (a) refelct the "spirit" of its source and/or (b) re-imagine the novel. After all, if I want just the novel--all its plot, characters and details--there's always, you know, the novel.
A Clockwork Orange
The Maltese Falcon
The Big Sleep (Bogart version)
Dracula (Coppola's version, Lugosi's performance)
The Age of Innocence
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Siegel's and Kaufman's versions)
A decidedly partial list--in both senses of the term. Feel free to add your own.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
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