The book was better than the movie. We’ve all heard that before, right? It can be hard to adapt a story from one medium to another, especially when it comes to books and films.

In a lot of cases, the story just can’t be changed enough to make it work on film or television.

That said, some books have been made into films and are actually really good adaptations. Here’s a list of the best book-to-film adaptations of all time.
 

Best Book To Film Adaptations

What Are book to film adaptations

An adaptation is a work that is derived from an existing piece of work, often one in a different medium such as a book or play.

In the world of movies, an adapted screenplay is one that was first written for another form of media and then adapted for the big screen. This could be a short story, novel, or comic book.

A screenplay adaptation doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be an entirely faithful recreation of the original work on screen. The director and screenwriter have to decide how best to translate it from page to screen.

Adapting books into films is not without challenges, particularly with the vast range of source material available. It’s important to remember that the purpose of adapting a book into a film is not simply to create a shot-by-shot reproduction of the text on-screen.

Instead, it’s about recreating the story being told while still paying attention to plot details and character development. Adaptations are also notorious for changing minor details or even settings in order to make them more suitable for the medium of film.

 

 

Best Book To Film Adaptations

Let’s jump into our rundown list of the best book-to-film adaptations.

Sense and Sensibility (1995)

Sense and Sensibility is a 1995 film adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel of the same title, written and directed by Ang Lee. The film stars Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, and many more.

Sense & Sensibility was one of the first films to be made by Ang Lee, who later went on to win the Academy Award for Best Director twice (for 2000’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and 2007’s Brokeback Mountain). Lee has said that before making the film he had never read any Jane Austen novels.

As much as Sense & Sensibility is an elegant period piece, it also has moments of great passion. The opening scene alone is enough to earn this movie a place in romance history.

The movie opens on a cold winter day in 1811. As snow falls steadily outside, a woman in a white robe stands at her bedroom window looking out bleakly into the world.

Her name is Marianne Dashwood (Kate Winslet), and she is mourning her recent broken engagement with the man she loves – John Willoughby (Greg Wise). On the other side of town, her sister Elinor (Emma Thompson) is trying to make sense of what has happened between Marianne.

The film was released in the United Kingdom on 5 November 1995, in the United States on 13 December 1995, and in Australia on 20 December 1995. It received positive reviews from critics and was a box office success.

Sense and Sensibility ( Sense & Sensibility ) [ Blu-Ray, Reg.A/B/C Import - Spain ]
  • Sense and Sensibility ( Sense & Sensibility )
  • Sense and Sensibility
  • Sense & Sensibility
  • Irene Richard, Tracey Childs, Annie Leon (Actors)
  • Rodney Bennett (Director) - Sense and Sensibility ( Sense & Sensibility ) (Producer)

The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003)

The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003) is a trilogy of epic fantasy adventure films based on the novel The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. The films were directed by Peter Jackson and produced by New Line Cinema, with the assistance of Miramax Films and Weta Workshop.

Tolkien’s literary agent, Christopher Little, initially received a letter from Tolkien’s son, Christopher, in October 1997 requesting rights to make movies of his father’s books and asking for help in contacting Tolkien’s publishers.

In December 1997, Tolkien’s English publisher, Rayner Unwin, sold the film rights to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit to United International Pictures (UIP) for a reported £20 million (about US$30 million).

In August 1998, UIP signed a contract with New Line Cinema so that they could make The Lord of the Rings films (while New Line retained its option to make films based upon other Middle-earth works).

The films were budgeted at an average of $100 million per film as well as 20% of gross from merchandise sales. Filming took place in New Zealand over 18 months, starting on 11 October 1999 and finishing on 2 November 2000. Post-production then finished in June 2001.

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The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy (Extended Edition Blu-ray)
  • Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen (Actors)
  • Peter Jackson (Director)
  • English, Spanish, Portuguese (Subtitles)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Audience Rating: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)

The Life of Pi (2012)

The Life of Pi is a 2012 American survival drama film based on Yann Martel’s 2001 novel of the same name. Directed by Ang Lee, the film’s adapted screenplay was written by David Magee, and it stars Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Rafe Spall, Gérard Depardieu, Tabu, and Adil Hussain.

The story is about an Indian man named Piscine Patel, who survives a shipwreck and is stranded on a cargo ship in the Pacific Ocean.

The film had its world premiere as the opening film of the 50th New York Film Festival at both the Walter Reade Theater and Alice Tully Hall in New York City on September 28, 2012.

It traveled to some other festivals before premiering wide in North America on November 21, 2012.

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Life of Pi [Blu-ray]
  • Irfan Khan, Gérard Depardieu, Suraj Sharma (Actors)
  • Ang Lee (Director) - Gil Netter (Producer)
  • English, French, Spanish (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)

Schindler’s List (1993)

Schindler’s List is a 1993 film about the titular German businessman who used his fortune to save the lives of over 1,000 Jewish people during the Holocaust.

The Academy Award-winning film starred Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler and was based on a novel by Thomas Keneally. The film follows Schindler from his initial meeting with a Jewish accountant who hires him to manage his factory.

Through the war years where he meets and marries Emilie Schindler, and finally, his life after the war, working for other Jews who survived. He is credited with saving 1,200 people from certain death in Nazi concentration camps by employing them in his factories.

Schindler was an ethnic German born in Moravia (then part of Austria-Hungary) and into a Catholic family; he moved to Poland in 1908 and opened an iron foundry in Zablocie near Krakow.

His marriage to Emilie Pelzl in 1928 brought him into contact with members of the Jewish community who were native Polish citizens; some were merchants or professionals while others held white-collar positions.

Initially a supporter of the Nazi Party because of its anti-communist stance, he later expressed remorse for his wartime. The list of the Schindlerjuden (Schindler’s Jews) is the list of 1,200 Jews who were saved by Oskar Schindler during the Holocaust.

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Schindler's List [Blu-ray]
  • Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes (Actors)
  • Steven Spielberg (Director) - Steven Zaillian (Writer) - Steven Spielberg (Producer)
  • French, Spanish (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)

Trainspotting (1996)

Trainspotting is a 1996 British drama film directed by Danny Boyle and adapted from the novel of the same name by Irvine Welsh. It tells the story of a group of addicts in an economically depressed area of Edinburgh and their passage into addiction.

The film begins with Mark Renton (McGregor), a young man with a heroin addiction, stealing from his parents’ house in Edinburgh before heading to his drug dealer’s den to purchase more heroin.

In the bathroom, he finds the toilet stall occupied by an unconscious man. When the man collapses, Renton panics and flees before he can find out if he’s all right. He goes home and finds that his friends have abandoned him except for Spud.

Trainspotting (Blu-ray + Digital)
  • Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller (Actors)
  • Danny Boyle (Director)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

The Shawshank Redemption is a 1994 American drama film written and directed by Frank Darabont, based on the 1982 Stephen King novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.

The film tells the story of banker Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), who is sentenced to life in Shawshank State Penitentiary for the murder of his wife and her lover despite his claims of innocence. Over the following two decades, he comes to be admired by the other inmates for his generosity and good character.

As he slowly adapts to prison life, Andy meets contraband smuggler Ellis “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman), an acquaintance from college who introduces him to a way of smuggling money and contraband inside the prison by way of a tunnel from one of the underground sewage pipes.

Red procures a rock hammer and later a large poster of Rita Hayworth for Andy, allowing him to hide material inside and escape from the prison undetected via the sewer system. Andy gradually sets up a lucrative smuggling operation,

using his skills as an investment broker to provide himself with a comfortable lifestyle within the prison walls. Over time, Andy manages to peacefully reduce his sentence and establish himself as one of the few trustworthy inmates among the guards and supervisors.

The Shawshank Redemption (Blu-ray)
  • Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman (Actors)
  • Frank Darabont (Director)
  • English, French, Spanish (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Release Date: 28 November 1971 (USA) For his next film, Kubrick turned to a science-fiction novel by Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange. It was the most controversial of his films and reputedly the last one in which he had full artistic control.

The story is set in Britain which is a near-future version of the late 1960s. In this nightmarish world, delinquent teenagers are kept under control by being forced to watch violent movies and listen to classical music (which induces nausea).

It is such a powerful form of conditioning that the young thugs become gentle and passive after treatment. Burgess’s novel was so violent that British publishers feared libel suits from both criminals and their victims.

A Clockwork Orange became one of the most influential films of all time, inspiring both praise and condemnation for its innovative use of violence.

Titled after the novel’s refrain—a metaphoric term for an involuntary reflex action that recurs at seemingly irregular intervals—” A Clockwork Orange” has become one of the world’s most famous titles. The film score was composed by Wendy Carlos.

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A Clockwork Orange [Blu-ray]
  • A Clockwork Orange
  • Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Adrienne Corri (Actors)
  • Stanley Kubrick (Director) - Stanley Kubrick (Writer) - Max L. Raab (Producer) - Anthony Burgess...
  • English, Spanish, French (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)

Fight Club (1999)

Fight Club is a 1999 American film, based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk. The film was directed by David Fincher and stars Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, and Helena Bonham Carter.

Norton plays the unnamed protagonist, an “everyman” who is discontented with his white-collar job.

He forms a “fight club” with soap salesman Tyler Durden (Pitt), and becomes embroiled in a relationship with Durden and a dissolute woman, Marla Singer (Bonham Carter).

At first glance, the film adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s novel, Fight Club, may seem like a typical Hollywood movie, but it has a lot more to offer than what meets the eye.

This film is an anti-establishment, anti-consumerist movie that conveys the message that people are defined by their consumer habits.

The film focuses on a struggling everyman who transforms himself into an adrenaline junkie, who only feels alive when he’s participating in underground bare-knuckle fights or when he’s with his similarly destructive and nihilistic friend.

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Fight Club (10th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray]
  • Blu-ray
  • AC-3, Blu-ray, Color
  • English (Subtitled), Spanish (Subtitled), French (Subtitled)
  • 1
  • 139

To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)

To Kill A Mockingbird is a 1962 film adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Harper Lee. It was directed by Robert Mulligan and stars Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, the story’s small-town Southern lawyer.

The cast also included Mary Badham, Philip Alford, and John Megna, as Scout (Jean Louise Finch), Jem (Jeremy Atticus Finch), and Dill, respectively.

TKAM tells the story of the Finch family living in Maycomb, Alabama during the Great Depression. The center of the story is Atticus Finch who is an attorney defending a black man against an accusation of rape of a white woman.

However, it uses that as a launching pad to explore many other issues facing the South at that time, including racial inequality and class divisions in a small town.

The movie was nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Actor for Gregory Peck. It won three Oscars including Best Actor and Best Cinematography.

The film was made when many movies were being made about race relations and civil rights. It was released only one year after To Kill A Mockingbird’s fellow Best Picture nominee West Side Story which explores similar themes. In addition to this movie and West Side Story.

To Kill A Mockingbird [Blu-ray] [1962]
  • Polish Release, cover may contain Polish text/markings. The disk has English audio.
  • Italian, German, French (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: Unrated (Not Rated)

Casino Royale (2006)

James Bond returns to the big screen in this reboot of the hit film franchise. Agent 007 (Daniel Craig) is sent on a mission to stop a mysterious terrorist (Mads Mikkelsen) who was a former ally. Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw) help Bond as he faces his biggest challenge yet.

The latest Bond film sees Daniel Craig step into Pierce Brosnan’s shoes and is an excellent film from start to finish.

The action scenes are superb (particularly the opening sequence set in a Miami casino), and Casino Royale manages to balance out the action with some great comedy moments, particularly revolving around Bond’s attempts at being “normal”.

Craig makes for an excellent Bond and it’s good to see that he has brought some realism to the role.

Gone are the days of Roger Moore where people are saved by their seat belts or survive certain death because they have a watch on!

Craig gets roughed up during fights and generally looks like he could take care of himself which is refreshing for a man who was previously so suave!

The rest of the cast do well too although it’s nice to see that Judi Dench is still in her role as M despite some rumors she might be leaving.

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Casino Royale
  • Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen (Actors)
  • Martin Campbell (Director)
  • Thai, Mandarin Chinese, Korean, English, Portuguese (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: Unrated (Not Rated)

The Godfather (1972)

The Godfather is a 1972 American crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola and produced by Albert S. Ruddy, based on Mario Puzo’s best-selling novel of the same name.

It stars Marlon Brando and Al Pacino as the leaders of a fictional New York crime family.

The story, spanning 1945 to 1955, chronicles the family under the patriarch Vito Corleone (Brando), focusing on the transformation of Michael Corleone (Pacino) from a reluctant family outsider to a ruthless mafia boss.

Paramount Pictures obtained the rights to the novel for the price of $80,000 before it gained popularity.

Studio executives had trouble finding a director; their first few candidates turned down the position.

They and Coppola disagreed over who would play several characters, in particular, Vito and Michael.

Filming was done on location and completed earlier than scheduled. The musical score was composed primarily by Nino Rota with additional pieces by Carmine Coppola.

The Godfather Coppola Restoration [Blu-ray] [1972] [Region Free]
  • Exclusive Commentary
  • Gift Box
  • Region Free
  • Blu-ray
  • Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall (Actors)

The Silence Of The Lambs (1991)

The Silence of the Lambs is a stupendous thriller that has aged very well. Director Jonathan Demme and writer Ted Tally have created a crime story that remains unsettling and compelling, one that transcends its era and stands tall among the best films ever made in the genre.

Tally’s script is one of the most intelligent, piercing dissections of the serial killer phenomenon in cinematic history, while Demme’s direction is razor sharp.

Hopkins’ Lecter is a unique character in movie history, a monster whose terrifying intellect makes him more dangerous than all others before or since.

Jodie Foster matches Hopkins beat for beat as Clarice Starling, creating a character who has become an icon in her own right.

And Ted Levine gives a seething performance as Buffalo Bill, the twisted killer at the heart of the film.

The Silence Of The Lambs is too smart to play by conventional rules. It’s not interested in providing answers, but asking questions about what makes someone into a serial killer.

It’s not afraid to go dark and follow its characters into their troubled psyches to show us things that might be uncomfortable or repulsive, but which are essential for us to understand these terrible people so we can stop them from killing again.

Silence Of The Lambs
  • French, Spanish (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: Unrated (Not Rated)

Room (2015)

This is a story about what happens when life goes wrong. It’s also a story about how love can make a family out of strangers, and transform even the darkest of places into one that’s worthy of fighting for.

It has moments that will break your heart, moments that will make you smile, and moments you won’t want to forget. But most importantly, this is a love story: the love between a mother and her child; the love between brothers; the love between friends; and the love between a man and woman.

It’s also important to note the performances by all three young actors playing Jack (Jacob Tremblay) at different ages.

They’re all terrific here. The little guy who plays Jack at 5-years-old steals every scene he’s in. The cinematography by Adam Stone is quite beautiful in this film.

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Room [Blu-ray + Digital HD]
  • Room
  • Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers (Actors)
  • Leonard Abrahamson (Director) - David Gross (Producer)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)