In the past few years, Hollywood has been having a party adapting literature – ranging from the good to the bad. The subject of book to film adaptations is an on-going controversy amongst lovers of literature and fans of the moving picture. Most believe it a ridiculous notion that the movie could capture the ambiance the author envisioned, whilst others believe that the cinematic spotlight enriches the narrative – making our favoured characters thrive with life.
The disdain for adaptations is scarcely surprising as most book lovers live in fear of their beloved stories becoming tarnished forever by simplistic directors exploiting them for cash. However, sometimes, exceptions have to be made. On occasion, filmmakers have managed to translate a narrative onto the screen in a way that does enrich the meaning of the story – compelling these narratives to be so much more powerful than they ever could be on paper.
1. Psycho (1959) Robert Bloch – Psycho (1960) Alfred Hitchcock
The Book: Bloch’s narrative is loosely similar to the murders of Ed Gein – the personality traits combined with the madness created the fictional character Norman Bates. Hitchcock adapted the narrative a year after publication and made it one of the greatest horror films of all time gaining the novel a lot of recognition. The novel is defined by how dissimilar it is to Hitchcock’s magnum opus – proving the decision to adapt it a great one.
The Movie: Alfred Hitchcock is widely recognised for the sensation that is Psycho, slightly overshadowing the creator of the original story. Bloch wrote a good book but it doesn’t compare to the wondrous things Hitchcock did when he got hold of it. The adaptation of Psycho is generally praised for its sinister atmosphere, Anthony Perkins as the brooding psychopath and of course the daring infamous shower scene in which Janet Leigh is brutally murdered by the frenzied Bates in the first hour.
2. Fight Club (1996) Chuck Palahniuk – Fight Club (1999) David Fincher
The Book: Fight Club is a brilliant piece of fiendishly written prose which was astute author Chuck Palahniuk’s very first novel. Despite how good the film turned out to be the book still stands strong due to Palahniuk’s incredibly talented writing abilities – the narrative is funny, intense and extremely mind boggling. The one major difference between the two mediums is the ending – Fincher’s version turned out to be the happy one.
The Movie: With such an intense premise, it wasn’t going to be long until Fight Club caught the eye of David Fincher and that is when one of the best movie adaptations ever was created. Fincher’s screenplay was so penetrating and comically dark that it dominated the book by miles – Brad Pitt and Edward Norton were a genius addition.
3. Requiem for a Dream (1978) Hubert Selby Jr – Requiem for a Dream (2000) Darren Aronofsky
The Book: A story of broken dreams and compulsive dependence Requiem for a Dream is a powerful narrative written by underrated author Hubert Selby Jr. As far as complicated narratives go, Requiem for a Dream hits the mark – so when daring director Darren Aronofsky took it upon himself to adapt it, the stakes were high.
The Movie: We all know that Darren Aronofsky is a talented man with an odd love for doomed stories – he loves to shatter the emotions of his fans. So when he adapted Requiem for a Dream, it is no surprise that the film turned out to be one of the most depressing, hapless movies out there. However despite that, it is undeniable that what Aronofsky did with it wasn’t exceptional. He fooled his audience into a false sense of security until the very end and that is when everything fell apart and not just for the characters. The audience were treated to one of the most horrendous and hopeless endings the history of cinema has ever seen.
4. Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption (1982) Stephen King – The Shawshank Redemption (1994) Frank Darabont
The Book: In 1982 Stephen King wrote Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption under the name Richard Bachman whom he writes as on occasion. The novella proved to be as far away from horror as King could venture from – creating a story that showed to be one of the most powerful adaptations to date.
The Movie: Frank Darabont’s adaptation of King’s short tale was naturally a hit – benefiting from splendid acting and a superbly written script. Darabont took the novella and turned it into a truly rare gem– the characters and the prison environment were so realistic, exposing the audience to the profound humanism and the true horror that occurs in a prison setting.
5. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Philip K Dick (1968) – Blade Runner (1982) Ridley Scott
The Book: When Phillip K. Dick wrote his ingenious, vivid and extremely detailed novel, he had no intentions of it ever being one of the most remarkable science fiction films ever made. Phillip K. Dick is an unusually imaginative author and this clearly shows in most of his fiction but Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep? was the first of his novels to be adapted but it certainly wasn’t the last thanks to Ridley Scott and his cinematic techniques.
The Movie: Despite Phillip K. Dick’s novel being great, the film doesn’t compare. Ridley Scott took this remarkable story and transformed into something so intense and visually striking that it’s no wonder it left a permanent mark on the genre. Blade Runner proved to be a movie that digs itself deep inside the minds of the audience with Ridley Scott’s magical abilities in visual effects and stunning filmmaking.