Judging by the blockbuster success of the Harry Potter, Twilight, and now Hunger Games films, there is still a great appeal for movies based on books. There’s something about re-experiencing the story you loved on the page played out on the screen – especially when it’s well done. When a good book gets a good script, good actors, good cinematography, and good music, enthusiastic readers can become enthusiastic viewers.
And these movies aren’t just for preteens. There are myriad examples of quality adapted screenplays for more mature audiences. Our friends at the Mid-Continent Public Library have indexed an impressive number of them. If you’re sick of the summer blockbuster already, check out some of these book-inspired movies at NPL:
1. All the King’s Men (book by Robert Penn Warren)
Set in the Depression, follows the life of a young farm boy who turns from an honest political hopeful to a powerful but corrupt governor.
2. Atonement (book by Ian McEwan)
In 1935, 13-year-old fledgling writer Briony Tallis and her family live a life of wealth and privilege in their enormous mansion. On the warmest day of the year, the country estate takes on an unsettling hothouse atmosphere, stoking Briony’s vivid imagination.
3. Girl With a Pearl Earring (book by Tracy Chevalier)
17-year-old Griet must work to support her family, so she becomes a maid in the house of Johannes Vermeer, where she attracts the master painter’s attention. He is commissioned to paint Griet, and the result is one of the greatest paintings ever created.
4. The Green Mile (book by Stephen King)
Death Row guards at a penitentiary, in the 1930’s, have a moral dilemma with their job when they discover one of their prisoners, a convicted murderer, has a special gift.
5. The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon
When his army unit is ambushed during the first Gulf War, Sergeant Raymond Shaw saves his fellow soldiers just as his commanding officer, Major Ben Marco, is knocked unconscious. Using the incident for political gain, Shaw eventually becomes a vice-presidential nominee, but Marco is haunted by dreams of what really happened in Iraq.
6. Remains of the Day (book by Kazuo Ishiguro)
The story of blind devotion and repressed love between a fanatically proper butler and a high-spirited, strong-minded young housekeeper employed by a British lord who is unwittingly a Nazi dupe.
7. October Sky (book by Homer Hickam)
The true story of Homer Hickam Jr., a high school student in rural West Virginia, who seemed destined to repeat his father’s harsh life in the coal mines, until he turned his attention to the skies.
8. True Grit (book by Charles Portis)
U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn helps a headstrong young girl find the man who murdered her father in Native American territory and fled with the family savings. When Rooster’s employer insists on accompanying the old gunfighter, sparks fly. The situation goes from troubled to disastrous when an inexperienced Texas Ranger joins the party.
9. Water for Elephants (book by Sara Gruen)
Against all odds, a veterinary student and a beautiful circus performer from a bygone era meet and fall in love through their shared compassion for a special elephant. But their secret romance incurs the wrath of her dangerously volatile husband.
10. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (book by F. Scott Fitzgerald)
Daisy Fuller Williams is on her deathbed in a New Orleans hospital the day that Hurricane Katrina hits. At her side is her adult daughter, Caroline. Daisy asks Caroline to read to her aloud from the diary of Daisy’s lifelong friend, Benjamin Button. Benjamin’s diary recounts his entire extraordinary life. The unusual aspect of his life is that he is ages backwards, being born an old man.