Aside from reading I have one other major hobby (well, I have several including writing, gaming, playing sport, watching sport, talking about sport and so on... but this one is the other major one). This hobby is movie watching, because as it turns out, I have a love of anything to do with stories. So, by linking my two loves, I've created a list of top twenty book to film adaptations that I have personally watched, measured on a scale of enjoyment compared to how 'adaptive' they are. I excluded graphic novels, but do include plays and would include poetry except that I am yet to see poetry be properly adapted...
20. The Hobbit: I include The Hobbit here at the 20th position for two reasons. 1) it is not yet finished as a film and 2) as an adaptation it adds in far more than the book actually contains. For all this, the films so far with their changes work to smooth over some of the book's more ridiculous flaws while not quite hitting the balance of tones between the book The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
19. The Lorax: As a children's film with a political agenda about talking about caring for the environment, The Lorax works very nicely and breathes fresh life into the short, sharp and often overlooked Dr. Seuss children's picture book.
18. All Quiet on The Western Front: The first of my two war films on this list, All Quiet on The Western Front is a book that touched me before the film and yet both are great examples of their kind. Moving, emotional and full of messages I recommend each.
17. The Jungle Book: There are many different versions of this adaptation, yet I recommend here the classic Disney version for its whimsy, charm and the way in which it takes Rudyard Kipling's novel and makes it popular...
16. To Kill A Mocking Bird: One of those word for word perfect adaptations, Gregory Peck as Atticus makes this film work from the start. Obviously we get a different perspective from the book and yet each are wonderful stories...
15. Coraline: This stop motion film is an example of how to do a film adaptation right, I may not have enjoyed the film as much as the book, yet there is no denying that both are wonderful creations...
14. Stardust: The second of my two Neil Gaiman adaptations, Stardust is an adaptation I prefer to Coraline, more because it helped me understand and love the fairytale of the book more and has a similar vein of fancy to my number one film.
13. Blade Runner: Taking all the different cuts and ways the book adapts and changes the original into effect (and that P.K. Dick said it looked exactly how he imagined it), Blade Runner is one of the finer adaptations (unfortunately cut down to this position by some better adaptations in my view).
12. Jurassic Park: The film is superior, and one of the few films that is, yet the book has its own take on the ideas and so together they make a unique film and book combination.
11. Catching Fire: Obviously, one of the newer book to film adaptations, yet Catching Fire is easily better than its predecessor and holds plenty of promise for the finale (depressing as the book is in its way...)
10. A Streetcar Named Desire: Who could ever forget Marlon Brando's performance? Or that scream of his in the film: 'Stelllllla!' Of course, the film itself is near enough to word for word with the play as far as I recall which makes it both a great classic film and a great adaptation.
9. Cloud Atlas: While many thought Lord of the Rings was the unfilmable book, when I read Cloud Atlas I believed it was the unfilmable book. However, the film works on its own oddly disjointed level as a brilliant piece of sci-fi imagination. There are differences from the book, but the fact that it is adapted is a brilliance of its own and it deserves a spot here...
8. Schindler's List: One of the many things Spielberg is brilliant at is book adaptations. He also happens to be great at historical films, both of which work together to make Schindler's List one of the great emotional movies and book adaptations of our time.
7. The Wizard of Oz: Classic and hardly any different from the book (which also happens to be a classic wonder of its own). My childhood would be completely different without one of the great pieces of cinema and one of the great book adaptations therefore.
6. Les Miserables: Now, great as the musical version is, it is not the version I am referring to here. Instead I refer to the very decent 1998 version starring Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush as Valjean and Javert respectively. The film makes very nice use of portraying the story of Les Miserables (without singing) and is often overlooked when talking about film adaptations.
5.Great Expectations: The David Lean version is a great film, and though the ending differs greatly from the book, in the movie it works and the entire film serves as such a wonderfully gothic version of Dicken's great masterpiece.
4. The Prestige: One of those modern films that I like to talk about often as an example of a film being better than the book in its way. While the book has its own unique historical tone, the film delivers more drama, tension and spookiness to the rivalry between magicians. The plot twist is also somewhat different and works better than in the book.
3. Ben Hur: One of the biggest movies of all time and one I have watched several times. The wonderful thing about this as a book adaptation is that it has now become so big that no one really remembers that there was a book originally.
2. Lord of the Rings: I am somewhat biased when it comes to these films as the book itself is one of my most loved novels, and most read. While the films may use subtle differences on the whole (or on occasion cut out entire sections) they still are wondrous ground-breaking films as they bring the same sense of mythology and grandeur that the books intended to show originally.
1. The Princess Bride: Both a classic piece of comedy and fantasy, The Princess Bride is also just so quotable. I place it at number one not because it is my favourite, but because, 1) many people forget about the original best-selling book because of how good the film is, 2) the film and book are near page for page, word for word and each remains just so good and 3) it remains an important film in my childhood.