House of Anansi and Groundwood Books Pick Their Favourite Book-to-Film Adaptations

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Nicole Chin, Sales and Marketing Intern for House of Anansi Press and Groundwood Books

There’s been a lot of buzz lately about the newest film adaption of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby. Book and movie lovers everywhere either love or hate the adaptation, or they refuse to watch it altogether.

This isn’t so surprising. Like I’m sure many others do, I have a love-hate relationship with book to film adaptations. I’ve done many things to avoid film adaptations, but my most extreme instance was in high school. I had just discovered that my favourite book at the time, My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult, was being made into a film. I was torn between being thrilled about the book’s success and being mildly terrified about what the adaptation would look like. I remember taking a lot of effort to see as little as possible about the film. It wasn’t my proudest moment. I would avoid commercials, bus shelter ads, and movie posters. I even remember closing my eyes and plugging my ears in a movie theatre because the trailer was playing before the movie I was seeing.This was all because I was already so attached to the characters and the world I had imagined in my head while reading the book. I still haven’t seen the movie to this day!

But, sometimes the world you imagined gets trumped by the world presented in a film adaptation. Sometimes the film adaptation brings something new to a book you loved, or makes the book even better! A book to film adaptation that I absolutely loved (and still love today) is Stand By Me, a movie based off of the novella The Body by Stephen King. It has to be my favourite film adaptation by far.

Until June 9th, these five books that have been made into movies are 30% off with the code FILM30

Kamouraska by Anne Hébert The Tracey Fragments by Maureen Medved Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth by Margaret Atwood Under the Hawthorn Tree by Ai Mi An Illustrated Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright

I decided to ask some of the wonderful House of Anansi staff about their favourite book to film adaptations. See their faves after the jump.

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ALYSIA SHEWCHUK, DESIGNER AND DIGITAL ASSETS COORDINATOR
The Shining, adapted from the novel by Stephen King

In my opinion, both an excellent book AND movie, which is a rarity.


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GILLIAN FIZET, RIGHTS MANAGER
Atonement, adapted from the novel by Ian McEwan

I surprised myself by quite liking Atonement. I am not a fan of Keira Knightley, but I thought she was cast well. I think they succeeded in making an entertaining film that held true to the story, or at least to what I remembered of it. I tend to have a terrible memory of everything I’ve read unless it’s my favourite book in the world!


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ERIN MALLORY, CROSS MEDIA GROUP
The Silence of the Lambs, adapted from the novel by Thomas Harris

Stand By Me, adapted from the  novella The Body by Stephen King


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EVA O’BRIEN, SALES ASSISTANT
O Brother, Where Art Thou?, loosely based on Homer’s The Odyssey

The bluegrass soundtrack and outstanding cast are an interesting take on a classic story that is so well-known. Also, George Clooney is a dreamboat.


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JOLISE BEATON, DIGITAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
The Color Purple, adapted from the novel by Alice Walker


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KELLY JOSEPH, MANAGING EDITOR
Trainspotting, adapted from the novel by Irvine Welsh


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MARK LUK, OPERATIONS MANAGER
The Prestige, adapted from the novel by Christopher Priest

The movie performs the cinematic equivalent of a bullet trick – a brilliant, intricate screenplay from Christopher Nolan, pitch-perfect performances from a dream cast, and alluring cinematography sway our suspension of disbelief for this tragic tale of illusion, love, and revenge.

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MEREDITH DEES, EDITOR
American Psycho, adapted from the novel by Bret Easton Ellis

Mary Harron’s American Psycho is one best movie adaptations I’ve seen simply because it does such a brilliant job conveying as much of Bret Easton Ellis’s original intentions for the book as possible. (In the novel the reader gets to decide if what Patrick is presenting is real or fake, while in the film Harron presents all the events as real, which is somewhat inevitable in movie form.) Christian Bale’s interpretation of Patrick Bateman is chilling and entirely spot on. Dorsia later, anyone?


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MICHAEL SOLOMON, ART DIRECTOR
Tom Jones adapted from the novel The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling by Henry Fielding

I saw it after reading the novel as a student. I loved the book and was surprised to find I loved the movie almost as much, despite the inevitable liberties and curtailments. Turned out I was ready (despite my snobby allegiance to the printed word) for something fresh, rollicking, cheeky and laugh-out-loud funny. An early try-out of the meta and post-modern, too. Old hat now, but I rejoiced in it all then! Would love to see it again (with trepidation of course–will it hold up?)


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MICHELLE ROPER, EDITORIAL INTERN
To Kill a Mockingbird, adapted from the novel by Harper Lee

Gregory Peck is the perfect Atticus Finch. It’s one of the few instances where the movie character felt more authentic than the man in the book. Now when I re-read it the book is better because I’ve seen the movie.


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SUZANNE SUTHERLAND, EDITORIAL ASSISTANT
Hard Core Logo, adapted from the novel by Michael Turner

A Clockwork Orange, adapted from the novel by Anthony Burgess

A Clockwork Orange is one of those rare birds of an adaptation where both the book and the movie have been critically celebrated, and with good reason. I dare you to read the book and not start describing everything as “real horrorshow” or to watch the movie and not curl up in a ball the next time you hear “Singin’ in the Rain.

My second pick of adaptations is Hard Core Logo, the Can/punk-lit classic. If you somehow escaped your adolescence without watching this flick (or reading the novel by Michael Turner), I implore you to watch it now. I equally implore you to never, ever watch Hard Core Logo 2. Trust me.

What are your favourite book to film adaptations? Let us know in the comments.

2 thoughts on “House of Anansi and Groundwood Books Pick Their Favourite Book-to-Film Adaptations

  1. Ang Lee has done some great book-to-film adaptations, including “The Ice Storm” and “Sense and Sensibility” — two of my favourite movies. Also “The Hours” is a wonderful film adaptation.

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