With the big, huge success of The Hunger Games this weekend at the box office, it reminds people that some books can be turned into great movies.
It reminds me that a good story can transfix an audience.
Book reading will never go ‘out’ but simply transfer to different venues. I like to read actual books but I have friends who listen to them or read them on one of the various devices out there. How many of us remember when some books (Such as the works of Charles Dickens) would start out as a serial in the newspaper?
I have not read the first book in the Hunger Games yet but I am looking forward to it. However, there are many other books-turned-to-movies that are well worth the time to watch them.
One of my favorite movies for younger children in this genre is Charlotte’s Web starring Julia Roberts as Charlotte and Dakota Fanning as Fern. If you don’t know the story, it is about a runt pig who is saved by 10-year-old Fern and goes to live on her cousin’s farm. There the pig becomes friends with a spider who is determined to save Wilbur from being dinner. There is something magical about the way Wilbur works his way into the hearts of others, how he and Charlotte develop a friendship and how Fern grows as a young woman. Many of the voices are perfect match ups and I love the bright and colorful canvas. Then there is the Sarah McLachlan song over the credits that will have the easy weepers (you know who you are) in need of the entire tissue box.
One of the best series of books-to-movies that I know of is the Harry Potter series. It would have been easy to let the quality of each successive movie but I found that there is a determination to make the best possible movie with each part of the series. I have written in the past that care must be taken is deciding when to allow a child watch each movie in this series as the comprehension level increases as the characters age. Primary students would enjoy the first three movies while mid-to-older teens are going to love the final three movies more as the action becomes life-or-death situations.
One series that I felt did an incredible job of bringing a series of books to the big screen is The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Peter Jackson combined a collection of characters in a well-paced series that made Tolkein’s Middle-earth come alive in a way I never expected. I was not a fan of the books but I loved this film series. It is a collection of movies that is best suited for pre-teens and older viewers who will enjoy the adult storylines of fear, belief and re-birth.
Finally, for adults I have two rather serious movies that came from books. The first is Atonement written by Ian McEwan. Joe Wright directed the big screen adaptation starring Kierra Knightly and James McAvoy as two people whose lives are forever changed with a false accusation. The situation is complicated with the advent of WWII and a little sister cruelly used by those wanting to hide the original crime. I was not a fan of the book but once I watched the movie, I admit that I finally got it.
The last movie I must mention because it is the most well-known and best-selling movie of all time, that is Gone With The Wind. Margaret Mitchell’s book was a love letter to the South before and after the Civil War. It is a picture of a world that I cannot imagine and yet it is the base of so many novels, plays and movies about that region of our country. There is no other movie that I can think of that matches GWTW‘s granduer, panache or storytelling.
These are only a smattering of books-turned-into-movies. What are your favorites? Drop a note at the Record Press Office and I will share them in a future column.
Until next time, see you in the rental aisle.