A novel is a story told over the course of a few hundred pages. The format has been around for a while, and has occasionally been used for acts of pure evil (Dan Brown). Films have been made of certain novels, and here’s a few of the more surprising ones. You may have known some of these already; if so, well done – you’ve exceeded what was expected of you.

Psycho

Alfred Hitchcock‘s adaptation of Robert Bloch‘s creepy novel has superceded the source material in every way. That such an efficient and effective chiller could have been created from such an average novel is testament to Hitchock’s cinematic powers. It’s all in the double chin.

Shrek

Only vaguely based on William Steig‘s children’s picture book, the films are based on the character rather than stories in the books. Steven Spielberg bought the rights in 1991, but it wasn’t till 2001 when Michael Myers took over and gave the ogre a Scottish accent and a wise-cracking donkey that a cinematic giant was born.

There Will Be Blood

The inspiration for the Paul Thomas Anderson masterpiece was the Upton Sinclair novel Oil!, which provided a jumping-off point for P.T. Anderson to create the world of the film. Some characters remain, some don’t; such is life.

Die Hard

Nothing Last Forever is the title of Die Hard’s source novel, which in itself was inspired by the author Roderick Thorp seeing a skyscraper catch fire in the film The Towering Inferno. It’s a sequel to The Detective, which was adaptated into a film starring Frank Sinatra. This means that Frank Sinatra and Bruce Willis play essentially the same character. Yep.

Tales From Earthsea

Studio Ghibli’s adaptations are usually better than the source material – Howl’s Moving Castle in particular – but Tales From Earthsea was a rare misstep for the studio. Ursula K. Le Guin, best known for The Dispossessed, and the Earthsea series of novels were far superior to the mediocre film.

Rambo

It’s perfect that such a lunkheaded macho action film should be based on a novel. First Blood was written by David Morrel, and the film doesn’t differ much from its source, aside from the fact that John Rambo dies at the end. Spoiler alert!

Satantango

Totalling at 333 pages, Satantango by László Krasznahorkai might go down in history as the only book for which it would take longer to watch than to read. The seven hour running time of Bela Tarr‘s adaptation means that at a page a minute, it would exceed the length of the novel by about an hour and a half. Is this a world first?

 

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