Salman Rushdie has a great essay in the Guardian today on film adaptations of books – and, wow, he really didn’t like Slumdog Millionaire. It’s a good read, even though I don’t agree with everything he says. It did set me thinking about what I might consider to be good film adaptations from books (especially considering I hadn’t seen a lot of the films he references).
Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” – great film of a great book (and, trivia point, Robert Duvall’s first screen role as Boo Radley).
Umberto Eco’s “The Name of the Rose” – a decent film of a fantastic book. There’s no way anyone could cover 1/10th of the content in the novel, but the film is challenging enough and stands alone as something worthwhile. This was the book that led me into (almost) everything that Umberto Eco has published.
Malcolm Bradbury’s “The History Man” (probably cheating because it was a TV series rather than a film). Works just as well in either medium – and now it’s hard to think of Howard Kirk as anyone other than Anthony Sher.
Tolkein’s “Lord of the Rings” – as Rushdie says, in some ways better on the screen than the page.
This is hard!
Maybe easier is a short list of books desperate to be made into good films:
Moby Dick (I mean, please – it’s even in public domain so the rights would be free) – the 1956 movie is OK, but not great (IMHO).
Anything and everything by William Gibson (and while I don’t count Johnny Mnemonic as being as bad as some people make it, it doesn’t count).
Michael Chabon’s “The Yiddish Policeman’s Union” – rumour has it that the Coen brothers will film it, which would be great.
Eco’s “Foucault’s Pendulum” – except that the execrable Da Vinci Code has spoiled the whole genre.
Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” – although Wikipedia tells me there was a movie with Crispin Glover, John Hurt, and Vanessa Redgrave which sounds promising.
Any other suggestions?