Notable Book To Film Adaptations
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
J.R.R Tolkien's fantastic novels were a firm favourite. It has been a long time since I watched the initial Lord of the Rings film but still remember being utterly blown away. Directed by Peter Jackson, there is no wonder, these films were so expensive to produce. Jackson's respect for the books comes through in the films. The setting of New Zealand provided the ideal backdrop, the scale and rugged beauty was truly breathtaking. Watching the films back now they could have been made yesterday and remember how impressive and advanced the effects were. The series of films, by in large stuck closely to the books. The characters were portrayed well and the strength and continuity of the cast rank as huge positives. The books are always going to rank higher and it is impossible to include all the details in thee epic tales. Challengibg to fully capture the intracies of characters thoughts, feelings and emotions off the written page. However they were so well made, Jackson was successful in bringing the novels to life.
The novel was written by Bernhard Schlink. A tale of first love and its intoxication over one summer. Teenager, Michael Berg is overwhelmed with sickness on the street and is invited into the home of Hanna Schmitz to clean up. Michael is left bedridden for a number of months due to hepatitis. Upon recovery, he returns to the home of Schmitz to thank her and so there starts their somewhat dysfunctional relationship. Especially with Schmitz being twice his age.
The film cuts to years in the future, Michael is in his final year of study to become a lawyer and it is here that he is reunited with his former lover. The verdict renders her guilty and she faces imprisonment. Part of their ritual and hence the title of the book is that he would read to her. Throughout her jail time, Michael continues to send her tapes of his reading. It is a moving film, from watching it and also reading you get a real sense of the burden and unrest in Germany and how history affected subsequent generations of people. It is a very emotional story and subject. There is a lot more to the novel but I do not want to reveal too much as it would spoil it for anyone that hasn't seen/read it. Kate Winslet is flawless in her portrayal of Schmitz in the film. Berg senior is played by Ralph Fiennes, an excellent actor. The actor who plays the teenaged Berg was simply fantastic, in what must have been a really challenging role. All three succeed in bringing the story and characters to life.
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen's most famous works was brought to life in 2005. A beautifully shot film, it is visually very impressive. The grandeur, airs and graces, balls, dress and beautiful stately homes evoke the time very well. Watching the film you become immersed and engrossed in this, it is all encompassing and transports you there. A strong cast, including the supporting actors, were central to making the film as good as it is. I found Keira Knightely to be excellent in her portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet, every bit the ambitious and vivacious character she is in the book. Mr Darcy as played by Matthew Macfadyen, was mysterious, deep and gentle. Yet to see any of the other adaptations and speaking to people, they say this pales in comparison to the earlier television mini series starring Colin Firth.
A personal favourite book and the beautiful cinematography did it justice. Ian McEwan's novel of love, war, betrayal and naievity. Briony Tallis, a young girl sees something she doesn't understand. She is also conflicted due to her childhood crush on Robbie- her elder sisters love interest. The story unfolds and Britain is in the grips of the Second World War. The film is from the perspective of Briony who feels guilt at what she did and atones for this in her novel.
The tales of the three are told but all is not as Briony says and portrays in her written work. The sisters (Cecelia and Briony) are the central characters and are in the upper classes, Robbie is also a central character and he is part of the family through his mother having been employed by them. The film reflects the changes in society around the time of world war two when class barriers were breaking down. As a result of Briony's naivety- Robbie goes to war to fight, something he would have been excused of due to his brain and acquired wealth if he married Cecelia. McAvoy, Knightely, Ronan and Garai are excellent in their roles. The film features a favourite scene of mine. It is a panning sequence at Dunkirk as the troops prepare to go home. It is very haunting with the hundreds of dishevelled men collected, there is no order, arms left to one side, some drunk, playing games, celebrating and sobbing. Conflicting emotions come across well. A group are singing "Dear Lord and Father of Mankind", which is both harrowing and uplifting further capturing the moment. Just stunning cinematography and cannot begin to do it justice in words.
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
Ken Kesey's novel was the one I picked to write my personal study on for higher English at school. As a book it was one I very much enjoyed and the same can be said for the film. For the first time I actually preferred the film to the book. I don't think that I will see an actor as good as Jack Nicholson was in this. It was a pearless performance and he went above and beyond in his portrayal of Randle McMurphy. McMurphy a criminal; faces a life in jail and he comes to the conclusion that it would be easier if his time was spent in a mental institution and he pleads insanity. Mental health problems are something that my family has a history of, personally it struck a chord.
As thought provoking as the book was, the film was just a destroyer. Nicholson captured the depths of human despair echoed in the change from when he entered the institution. Going in he was happy, vibrant and at the end of the film all that was gone, he was gone. The film opens with his charismatic personality shining, bending the rules, lifting the spirits of others and getting up to all sorts of high jinks. As the film progresses the effects of the "treatment" of individuals breaks him down and he is left a shell, a shadow of his former self. The stigma around mental illness was laid bare in the film and it is merciful that things have now changed. There was a shame attached and a lack of understanding, the sufferers were locked away, isolated and treated inhumanely. Straight jackets, pills, electrocution were methods used to imprison, sedate trapping people in their suffering. Stories of the other patients are told in the course and central to it is the character Nurse Ratched. A devil in sheep's clothing, one of films true villains. It is deep and moving, very thought provoking. It is a must see. As a film it is one that after you have seen, you won't forget- it resonates years on.