With Cloud Atlas, based on David Mitchell’s novel, hitting cinemas this week, we decided to take a look back at some of the best book to movie adaptations over the years…
The book: The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
The film: The Silence of the Lambs, directed by Jonathan Demme
Although this was the second Hannibal Lecter film to be released, after 1986’s Manhunter, it was the first to star Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter; a role that has become iconic and beloved. The film also starred Jodie Foster as the young FBI trainee who joins forces with a noted – and incarcerated – murderer to track down the infamous Buffalo Bill.
The Silence of the Lambs was the third film to win Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Director and Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay), after It Happened One Night and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Impresssive!
The books: The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
The films: The Lord of the Rings trilogy, directed by Peter Jackson
It was often said that The Lord of the Rings trilogy was unfilmable, but up stepped New Zealand director Peter Jackson, who made three incredible films, one after the other. The films starred Elijah Wood as Frodo, the Hobbit who must journey to Mordor – with the help of a wizard and his friends – to destroy the One True Ring, and put an end to Sauron’s evil designs for Middle Earth.
The project is still considered to be one of the biggest and most ambitious ever undertaken, and cost $281 million to make. It’s OK though, because the third film – The Return of the King – is the sixth highest grossing film of all time, having made $1,119,929,521 at the box office.
The book: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
The film: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, directed by Miloš Forman
Another film to be nominated for, and win, the Big Five at the Academy awards, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest starred Jack Nicholson as Randle Patrick "Mac" McMurphy, a recidivist criminal serving a short sentence on a prison farm for statutory rape of a 15-year-old girl.
As well as winning the Big Five, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest has been inducted into the US Library of Congress, has a score of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes and is considered one of the greatest American films ever made, although it was rumoured – and later confirmed by Chuck Palahniuk – that the book’s author was not a fan of the film.
The book: Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
The film: Fight Club, directed by David Fincher
Chuck Palahniuk is well known for his nihilistic, violent and destructive works, but in the hands of David Fincher, the film of Fight Club became a thing of beauty… Albeit slightly twisted beauty. Edward Norton stars as the Narrator; a man whose life is changed when he meets the mysterious Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) on a plane, and together they set about freeing people from their mundane lives.
Even though the film was only nominated for an Oscar in Sound Editing – which it lost to The Matrix – Fight Club has become a cult classic in the 14 years since it’s release. As well as this, the film became one of the most controversial, talked about and innovative films of the 1990s.
The book: Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
The film: Interview with the Vampire, directed by Neil Jordan
Brad Pitt stars as Louis, a young landowner who is turned into a vampire by Lestat (Tom Cruise), after he loses his family. The film follows the two over the years as they drift further apart, adopt a vampire child and wreak havoc across the US and Europe.
Irish director Neil Jordan took on the Gothic love story that is Interview with the Vampire and transformed the city of New Orleans while filming in the city. Interview may divide critics – and the sequel may be laughably schlocky – but the film made $224 million internationally, and was number 1 at the US box office.
Honourable mentions to… To Kill a Mockingbird, Jurassic Park, We Need to Talk About Kevin, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Drive and Schindler’s List.
Which is your favourite book to movie adaptation? Let us know in the comments below.
Words: Brogen Hayes