How many of your favourite movies began their lives in the mind of a novelist? I daresay more than you might imagine. A quick glance through the Academy’s Best Picture nominees from years gone by will bring up a plethora of films based on books. From last year’s The Help, to epics like Lord of the Rings, and back further still to the likes of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and Oliver!, literary adaptations have been an integral part of Hollywood’s output for decades.
This trend shows no signs of letting up any time soon. In 2012 we’ve already seen literary classics like Anna Karenina and Great Expectations reborn on the big screen, alongside reimagined fairytales Snow White and the Huntsman and Mirror Mirror, and cult teen flicks The Hunger Games and soon the final edition of The Twilight Saga. But what I want to know is which books do you feel Hollywood needs to take note of? Moreover are there any movie adaptations that you thought were such a discredit to the original novels that they should be made again? Who should star in them, and which directors can be trusted to bring your favourites to life?
Here are five books that think deserve the full Hollywood treatment…
1. Wicked: The Life and Times of Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
There have been rumours flying around Hollywood for years that an adaptation of Gregory Maguire’s complex prequel to The Wizard of Oz would be going into production sometime soon, but as yet very little has been confirmed. The story follows Elphaba, a curious green girl who would one day become the Wicked Witch of the West. Perhaps most famously the book has spawned the monster musical smash Wicked. In all likelihood the inevitable movie adaptation would probably sit closer to the musical than the book, which spends a great deal of time exploring Oz’s political and theological aspects. However the fact remains that Wicked would be a monster hit regardless. Provided the central roles of Elphaba and good witch Glinda are correctly cast, this one’s a sure fire hit.
2. The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling
So it was never going to be the phenomenon that Harry Potter has been, but JK Rowling’s debut venture into true adult literature will surely make it to the big screen sooner of later. If only for the reason that the Potter series is now the highest grossing in film history, The Casual Vacancy will likely get VIP treatment given that it comes from the most successful living author in the world. The story is set in a suburban English town where a local parish councillor passes away leaving a vacancy open on the town council. From here local politics becomes the order of the day, in an entertaining exploration of small-town English society. This one feels like it’s simply a matter of time.
When a friend suggested I include The Magic Faraway Tree on this list, childhood memories of repeat readings of Enid Blyton’s finest book came flooding back to me. She may have brought us The Famous Five and The Secret Seven, but it was the magical escapades up the Faraway Tree that captured my imagination as a child. The story sees a group of young friends visit the mystical tree that houses a variety of supernatural folk, but most impressively features a new magical land amongst its uppermost branches each week. It might be twee by today’s standards, but an Aardman or Pixar adaptation of this wonderful book could make a great movie.
4. The Bible by Various
You may be forgiven for thinking I’ve lost the plot a little bit here, but what better resource for cinematic inspiration than what is arguably the most read book in the history of the world? Think about the likes of The Passion of the Christ and Darren Aronofsky’s upcoming Noah’s Ark epic. The Bible is brimming with dramatic tales just ripe for Hollywood to pick at. How about a feminist adaptation of the book of Esther? Or perhaps let Terence Malick go crazy with the book of Revelation. The possibilities are endless, and actually quite fun to think about!
5. Yes Man by Danny Wallace
So this is my wildcard pick, seeing as it was already adapted a couple of years back as a truly dreadful Jim Carrey vehicle, devoid of laughs and nothing like the brilliant book it’s based on. Written by British funny-man Danny Wallace, the book follows his true experiences of consciously saying ‘yes’ to everything in his life for one year. Unlike the film, the book is clever, touching and laugh-out-loud funny. I hereby demand that Hollywood revisit this fantastic story, and make a film version that’s not a complete insult to the book it’s based on.
So those are my picks. It’s over to you now, hit me with your best picks…
Tags: book adaptation, Danny Wallace, Enid Blyton, JK Rowling, Literature, The Bible, The Casual Vacancy, The Wizard of Oz, Wicked, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, Wizard of Oz, Yes Man