My top 5 favourite films based on books

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Original Photo by Georgia Vagim on Unsplash

I love a good book, and I love a good movie. Sometimes, these loves cross paths because many of the best films out there are based on books. It’s almost as if it is easier to make a film if the some of the harder aspects, like creating a compelling story, or complex and intriguing characters, is already done for you. Can’t really blame film makers for using good material that is already out there can you?

Anyway, without further ado, here are 5 of my favourite movies based on films…

The Lord of the Rings

I maybe cheating a little with this one, after all there are three Lord of the Rings films, but really, they sit together as one story, so I’m happy to cheat here. If I was really pushed I would pick The Two Towers, simply because the Battle of Helm’s Deep maybe one of the most incredible battles on film ever, and Andrew Serkis’ portrayal of Gollum, which is phenomenal and really seemed to open Hollywood up to motion capture acting. Can you image some modern films if they were still sceptical about motion capture? Nope, me neither.

Peter Jackson took Tolkien’s classic epic fantasy series and made a set of movie epics that are surely modern classics. These films introduced a whole new generation – myself included – to the magic of Middle Earth, and make a fantastic first entry on my list. Unfortunately, The Hobbit films that came later failed to capture the same magic. Probably something to do with turning a relatively short book into three two-hour plus movies. My preference for The Lord of the Rings films over The Hobbit ones is slightly ironic, as I actually prefer The Hobbit as a book to The Lord of the Rings books., but hey, this is all just my opinion.

Harry Potter

Once more I am cheating a little. It’s too hard to pick a favourite. I’d go for either The Goblet of Fire (Dragons, Voldemort’s first proper appearance, and our main trio really starting to grow into adolescence) or The Deathly Hallows Part 1 (possibly not a popular choice, but I liked the character heavy plot of this one). Now, these films aren’t as good as the books, that would have been an almost impossible ask, but they do beautifully capture much of the magic of the books, especially the tone of each book. Just like our characters, the books and movies grow and evolve throughout the story, from the light-hearted and childish Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to the darker and more mature themes of The Deathly Hallows.

Oh, and a special mention has to go out to the late Alan Rickman’s portrayal of Snape, and Robbie Coltrane’s Hagrid. They really were the perfect choices for those characters. Props to whoever cast them!

The Jungle Book (1967)

Now, I have a confession. I haven’t actually read the book of The Jungle Book. But, I know it is based on a book, and I absolutely love the 1967 animated version of this film! I could happily live without the recent remake, but the older version is a classic. There is probably a lot of childhood bias going on with this selection, I’m able to admit that, but I really don’t care. Many were the times I felt sick, or just needed cheering up, and would settle down on the sofa and pop this in the VHR player (God, I’m old, aren’t I?). It used to make everything better.

I’m not actually a huge musical fan; I like songs in some films – typically Disney films – but I don’t go out of my way to watch musicals. However, the music in The Jungle Book is fantastic. I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like The Bare Necessities, but the whole score fits the movie beautifully.

The Book Thief

This one maybe a slightly left field choice. The book is widely held in very high regard, the film, not quite so much. It’s not that the film is considered bad, but it doesn’t touch the book. However, I like it. I saw the film before I read the book (savage that I am) and it was the film that made me go out and read the book. So, the film must be doing something right.

The whole cast do a wonderful job of bringing the characters to life on the screen. Again, there maybe some previous bias from having seen the film first, but having read the book recently, and then re-watched the film soon after, I was struck by fantastic performances that Sophie Nélisse, Geoffrey Rush, and Nico Liersch give as Liesel Meminger, Hans Hubermann, and Rudy Steiner respectively.

The Dark Knight

This one isn’t a direct translation from a book, but Batman comes from comic BOOKS, so I am including it. Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale’s whole Batman trilogy is brilliant, but this one does stand out from the other two. The pace of the story, the twists and turns, Heather Ledger’s Joker, Christian Bale’s Batman, and the grime of Gotham are all spectacularly shown off on the big screen in what is quite probably the best super hero film ever made. Sorry, Marvel, I love your films, but you’ve still got a way to go to top this one.

Honourable mentions…

I am well aware that I have missed a whole tonne of fantastic book to movie adaptions here, but I simply can’t write about all of them. So, here are some honourable mentions that, while they may not be my favourites, still deserve a lot of credit.

· The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

· All Quiet on the Western Front

· Guardians of the Galaxy Volume I

· The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)

· Hidden Figures

· Wonder Women

· Master and Commander

· Jurassic Park

· Macbeth (2015)

· Lion

· Casino Royale

· Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory