Page to Screen: Top Books to Movies 2012 #3

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Bring on the Classics


Classic literature always provides a rich treasure trove that Hollywood mines regularly. The setting, the vast array of characters, the familiarity the story brings to viewers who are likely to have read the story sometime in their life and the opportunity to show off rich production values all offer attraction to the studios.

What more, the strength of the original story and the large canvas often attract Oscar glory also.

From the time the motion picture industry started, classic books have always been a very rich source of movie making. Classics also offer an array of genres to dip from. From the period romances of Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters, a study of then society by Dickens, the war commentary of Hemingway, the comedy of Oscar Wilde, the horror of Bram Stoker, the mystery stories of Conan Doyle to the children's favorites of JM Barrie and Frank L Baum, classic adaptations have always enjoyed a mass appeal.

This year sees the return of the classics in big scale with adaptations of Les Miserables and Anna Karenina in the works.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A Christmas Carol- Charles DickensDracula - Bram StokerThe Importance of Being Earnest- Oscar WildePeter Pan - JM BarrieRebecca Daphne Du MaurierWuthering Heights - Emily BronteDoctor Zhivago - Boris PasternakSherlock Holmes- Arthur Conan DoyleAround the World in 80 Days- Jules VerneTom Sawyer- Mark Twain
A Christmas Carol- Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol- Charles Dickens | Source
Dracula - Bram Stoker
Dracula - Bram Stoker | Source
The Importance of Being Earnest- Oscar Wilde
The Importance of Being Earnest- Oscar Wilde | Source
Peter Pan - JM Barrie
Peter Pan - JM Barrie | Source
Rebecca Daphne Du Maurier
Rebecca Daphne Du Maurier
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte | Source
Doctor Zhivago - Boris Pasternak
Doctor Zhivago - Boris Pasternak | Source
Sherlock Holmes- Arthur Conan Doyle
Sherlock Holmes- Arthur Conan Doyle | Source
Around the World in 80 Days- Jules Verne
Around the World in 80 Days- Jules Verne | Source
Tom Sawyer- Mark Twain
Tom Sawyer- Mark Twain | Source

Les Misérables

1862

Author: VICTOR HUGO


Lauded as one of the foremost novels of the the 19th century now, would it surprise you to know Les Misérables was critically mauled by pretty much everyone at the time of its publication. Victor Hugo, a celebrated poet in France was in exile in England at the time of its release. Sprawling over 1200 pages, this magnum opus covers crime and redemption, imprisonment and freedom, love and hate, revenge and repercussions all set in the backdrop of June revolution in France. The higher echelons of the society and the literati felt it was amoral and that it was pure overblown sentimentalism. But the public loved it. Despite its massive size, it sold millions, not only in France but also across Europe and the world. In fact the Confederate soldiers in America read the novel through their battles and called themselves 'Lee's Miserables' alluding to their General Lee and the awful conditions of war.

The story centers around the protagonist Jean Valjean, sent to prison for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister's children. After several escape attempts he is released on parole and is told to carry a yellow passport that pretty much brands him as a criminal for life. Bitter at the injustice of it all, Jean Valjean seeks refuge in a Bishops residence, only to steal the silver candlesticks and run away. Caught and returned to the Bishop's residence he is surprised by the Bishop's kindness in telling the authorities that it was a gift after all. The Bishop sets him on the right path and gifts him the candlesticks to make a honest man of himself.

Years later Jean Valjean becomes Monsieur Madeleine, a respected manufacturer and mayor of a town. He is hounded by Inspector Javert who knows him for what he is and seeks revenge. Their stories are intertwined with hundreds of others and is set in the backdrop of the student revolution and is full of twists and turns set across two decades (1815 to1832). The novel not only serves as a meditation of human adventure and redemption but also as a major historical narrative.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Les MisérablesHugh  Jackman as Jean Val JeanAnne Hathaway as FantineRussell Crowe as Inspector Javert
Les Misérables
Les Misérables | Source
Hugh  Jackman as Jean Val Jean
Hugh Jackman as Jean Val Jean | Source
Anne Hathaway as Fantine
Anne Hathaway as Fantine | Source
Russell Crowe as Inspector Javert
Russell Crowe as Inspector Javert | Source

Les Misérables - Film


The forthcoming film version is not a direct adaptation of the original tome but is adapted from the long running stage musical. Directed by Oscar winning directorTom Hooper ( The King's Speech, John Adams) the film features an all star cast of Hugh Jackman ( Jean Val Jean) , Russell Crowe ( Javert) Anne Hathaway ( Fantine) Amanda Seyfried ( Cosette) Eddie Redmayne (Marius), Sacha Baron Cohen ( Thenardier) and Helena Bonham Carter ( Madame Thenardier) among others.

The film features the songs from the stage musical under the composition of Claude-Michel Schönberg. Currently in post production it is set to be released worldwide presumably in time for the Oscar season.

The Trailer gives a glimpse some stunning production values and design under the stellar direction of Tom Hooper. Should be a musical and visual treat with great songs.

Anna Karenina- Leo Tolstoy
Anna Karenina- Leo Tolstoy | Source

Anna Karenina

1878

Author: LEO TOLSTOY

Considered by many as one of the finest realist novels of the 19th century and hugely influential to many writers, Anna Karenina was first published in a serial format in a magazine called 'The Russian Messenger'.

Its a sprawling epic ( I suppose all epics sprawl a bit!) that follows the infidelity of Princess Anna Karenina, a married woman who falls in love with handsome Count Vronsky while increasingly being distant from her husband Count Alexei Karenin, a senior statesman in Russia. The story follows her love and romance and the eventual decline into possessiveness and paranoia.

The novel accurately captures the then social norms in Russia and the sheer pressure a woman of her stature would have had due to the society's view of her infidelity. Count Vronsky promises to marry her if she divorces her husband ( who is twenty years her senior) but Anna struggles between her own desires and the social pressures.

The vogues of Tsarist Russia, the impeding politics of the revolution, the doomed romance and the period setting make it a very attractive film option. The novel also follows the love story and the plight of the two characters Levin and Kitty ( who is related to Anna) in parallel.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Film posterKeira Knightly as Anna KareninaJude Law as Count Karenin and Keira Knightley as Anna KareninaAaron Johnson as Count Vronsky
Film poster
Film poster | Source
Keira Knightly as Anna Karenina
Keira Knightly as Anna Karenina | Source
Jude Law as Count Karenin and Keira Knightley as Anna Karenina
Jude Law as Count Karenin and Keira Knightley as Anna Karenina | Source
Aaron Johnson as Count Vronsky
Aaron Johnson as Count Vronsky | Source

Anna Karenina - Film 2012

The forthcoming film is director Joe Wright's sumptuous vision. Wright has already demosntrated his ability to handle emotion, period setting and also rich production values in his Oscar winning films Pride and Prejudice and Atonement. One can say the film is in very safe hands here.

Featuring Joe Wright's lucky mascot Keira Knightley in the lead role, the film also features Aaron Johnson ( Kick Ass) as Count Vronsky, Jude Law ( Sherlock Holmes) as Count Alexei Karenin in the original love triangle. Others in the cast include Kelly MacDonald ( Boardwalk Empire, Brave), Matthew MacFayden, Olivia Williams and Emily Watson.

The Screenplay is written by Tom Stoppard ( Shakespeare in Love) and has the sweep of an epic romance. The trailer reveals an astonishing vision, reminiscent of those old David Lean epics like Doctor Zhivago

It is slated for release winter this year.

Vote for your favourite

Which would you rather see: the tale of Crime and Redemption or a Doomed Romance?

  • Les Miserables
  • Anna Karenina
  • I love 'em both
  • None, I prefer moderns to classics
See results without voting
Anna Karenina - 1948 movie
Anna Karenina - 1948 movie | Source

More by this Author


Comments 27 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

A great hub Doc! Excellent choices and I agree completely. I think I need to watch both of them again soon!


xstatic profile image

xstatic 4 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

Thanks Docmo for this info! Seems as if we have some good movies coming up!


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Docmo....a wonderful translation of the story line for both of these novels-soon-to-grace-the-screen. They are both slated for release this winter? I look forward to seeing them. Read both novels....but many years ago.

The Directors are acclaimed and successful...and the cast appears to be made up of the finest of actors. I am interested in how Jude Law will be made to look 20 years older than Kiera Knightley........The magic of make-up!

Thank you for this interesting read. UP ++


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Up and fabulous, Docmo. You are superb.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

Mohan (Docmo),

I have a section in my Classic Movie Quotes article which contains links to part #1 and part #2 of your series. I just revised my Hub so that your new additon to the series is included.

I've seen the classic "a Christmas Carol" movie, and I've seen the play at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Southern Calfornia.

Did you see the stage presentation of "Les Misérables" in the West End in London? If I could travel all the way from Orange County to see it, you certainly could have made the trip from Wigan.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

I'm not a fan of classic movies, but I'm a fan of your hubs! :)


Suelynn profile image

Suelynn 4 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

Docmo, Fantastic hub! Voted across except for funny. As you may know, I LOVE the classics and you have done justice to both of these upcoming movies. I am looking forward to seeing them both, in particular, Anna Karenina. Both films look superb with great casting. I was struck by your comment "reminiscent of those old David Lean epics like Doctor Zhivago" and couldn't agree more upon viewing the trailer! Great job!

p.s. I was completely unaware of the movie starring Vivien Leigh and Ralph Richardson! :)))


ishwaryaa22 profile image

ishwaryaa22 4 years ago from Chennai, India

An engaging hub! I like watching film adaptions of famous novels & historical epic films. After reading your insights in both film adaptions of very famous books, I am very eager to watch both these films. Well-done!

Thanks for SHARING. Useful & Interesting. Voted up.


DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 4 years ago from Iowa

I haven't seen either of these movies. I'll have to put them on my list. Thanks for the recommendations.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

You couldn't go wrong writing about these two wonderful classics, and being you, you do not disappoint. Your recap of both novels and introduction to both films is wonderful.

I will be curious to see if these movie re-makes will be as good or better than the originals. Actually this will be the 19th screen version for Anna Karenina and almost the same of Les Mis...so I'm sure everyone has their favorite version.

I didn't know they were being made into movies again and so I thank you for this information.

Voted up, useful and interesting.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK Author

Bill - Thanks for your visit. Glad you enjoyed the preview.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK Author

Xstatic, thanks. they do seem like very well made from the cast, director and trailers.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK Author

'Effer', thanks for your visit and comments. Yes they are both slated for winter and the directors are coming off a very successful run of good movies. They look promising indeed.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK Author

Will- thank you, kind sir!


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK Author

Daisy, thanks for linking up with these hubs. Very kind of you. I've seen Les Mis in London. I, as you know, do love the musicals and have seen a few of the West end productions- Fiddler on the roof, Phantom of the opera, Art, The Producers, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Blood Brothers, A Christmas Carol and many more.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK Author

Sunshine- thanks for your comments. I'm glad you like my hubs.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK Author

Susan, I am a big fan of David Lean's sweeping epics and when I watched the trailer of Anna Karenina it felt like a Lean movie. I think we're going to enjoy these two films when they come out as it's been a while since we've had a good period romance/drama.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK Author

Ishwaryaa- thanks for your visit. Glad you enjoyed these little summaries of forthcoming attractions.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK Author

Debs, they're out this winter- I 've got them on my list of movies to watch.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK Author

Mary, thank you so much for your vote of confidence. I know these are two great tales and many would have read them. The filmmakers seem to have done justice to the original vision and I'm looking forward to them.

I love the fact that you like movie trivia too. I knew there have been many versions of Anna but didn't realise there have been 19 of them! Thank you.


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

Although I have already seen earlier versions of both films, Docmo, your fascinating reviews make me want to view the newest versions as well. So I shall - when they are released. I''ll be sure to tell them you sent me. :) Thanks for this treat.


Gypsy48 profile image

Gypsy48 4 years ago

Excellent hub Docmo! I can't wait to see Les Miserables with Russell Crowe. I have seen the version of Anna Karenina with Vivian Leigh numerous times, absolutely love it.


eHealer profile image

eHealer 4 years ago from Las Vegas

Hey Doc, I love this hub, you are so creative. I am emailing this to a few friends that will love it! Thanks once again.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK Author

drbj- I'm sure you'll enjoy these new versions as every version perhaps brings a new freshness and new production values. appreciate your visit.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK Author

Gypsy48- appreciate you coming over and reading this.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK Author

eHealer- you are a star fro reading , commenting and also sharing this with your friends. Much appreciated.


midget38 profile image

midget38 4 years ago from Singapore

I am a Les Miserables fan. You brought back some great memories there! Thanks, Docmo!

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