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Since George du Maurier’s novel Trilby was made into the 1896 short film Trilby and Little Billee, the boundary between books and film has become increasingly fluid. And although book-to-film adaptations are a point of contention for many, most of history’s most celebrated books have a motion picture counterpart. Yet, as that “most” implies, some books, brilliant books rife with what could be visually stimulating content, have yet to see their name in the hot white lights of the movie theater marquee.
Here are our nominees for the silver screen:
10. Suttree by Cormac McCarthy – At once dramatic and comedic, and sprinkled with flashbacks enough to make it an intriguing film, this books wanders through the story of man who gave up his wealth for life as a fisherman on the Tennessee River.
9. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger – It’s hard to believe that this much revered novel, the tale of teenager Holden Caulfield’s angst and confusion, hasn’t yet been adapted for film.
8. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers – Although this novel was once slated to become a film, the project has since been dropped. So, we’re still waiting to see a visual recreation of this memoir, a document of Eggers’ attempts to start a magazine, raise a younger sibling, and come to terms with life after his parents’ death.
7. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris –Even though Sedaris declined follow through with making this book into a film, we still think a motion picture of this witty book, which speaks of Sedaris’ Raleigh-based childhood and years in Normandy, France, would have us laughing up a hurricane.
6. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig –This childhood delight, our favorite touching tale about an anthropomorphic donkey who finds a wish-granting stone, is a great candidate for claymation or Pixar.
5. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie – A telepathic narrator, other magically gifted kids, an newly independent India struggling to solidify its identity, delicious mango pickles – this book as all the fixing for cooking up one heck of a film.
4. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – There’s been much anticipation surrounding a potential eponymous film for this novel, but it’s yet to happen. Nonetheless, this futuristic fragment of fiction, where hyper-talented young kids are trained to fight virtual aliens in an elaborate game, would surely be a hit if only it were finessed into a film.
3. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon – Reportedly a film ‘in development,’ we’ve yet to see an adaptation of this book mapped onto movie reels. There’s no doubt in our minds, however, that this can’t-put-it-down novel, which follows immigrant Joe Kavalier and his cousin Sam Clay through the jungle of comic book stardom, and even includes a scene with Salvador DalÃ in a scuba suit, would be just as gripping on the screen as it is on the page.
2. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel GarcÃa MÃ¡rquez – Imagine how great it would be to see this fantastical tale–dazzled with characters drawn up into the sky, dreams of mirror cities, and six generations’ worth of wonder–made into a movie?
1. The Giver by Lois Lowry – With a Wizard of Oz-like transition from black and white to color, spanned out over the story of a young boy facing the decision of whether or not to leave his ‘utopian’ society, this story would be incredible if done well as a film.
What are you feelings about making books into film? And, what do you think about making books into other forms of media – comic books, as done with Twilight, plays, as done with Wicked, or even the new book trailer trend?
Tell us your thoughts in the comments below, or spark a new literary conversation in our GoodReads group!
film, lists, movies, shelf life, Top 10
I love The Giver! It’s one of my favorite books of all time. I read it in 4th grade and loved it, and I recently re-read it from a grown up perspective and loved it even more. Definitely would be an amazing movie…if done well. 🙂
Don’t do it! With the exception of The Color Purple by Alice Walker — made into a film by Steven Spieiberg, and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, I have yet to see a adaptation that didn’t hate.
JD Salinger was always VERY against Catcher In The Rye being adapted into a movie.
I find it is rare that a movie is made from a book that lives up to the literary version and I think most great books are better left alone. However, I would like to like to add A Confederacy of Dunces to this list. I think the story would translate to a fun movie.
I’m always hesitant about adapting books into movies. Some of them just don’t work out right. I refused to see The Road, because I loved the book too much. On the other, Let The Right One In was a good take on the book–both were Swedish, and now there’s going to be an American adaption…which makes me nervous.
Catcher in the rye should NEVER be made into a movie! How horrible that would be. A book that great would never be able to be recreated on film
If I love, love, love a book, the last thing I want is to see a film adaptation of it. So few are done correctly (I can think of only a few I like enough to re-watch: the two recent Chronicles of Narnia films, The Borrowers, Pride & Prejudice with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, North & South with Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe). And if I want to experience them again, I usually read the book instead.
Of the ones on your list, I would most hate to see Ender’s Game in movie format. I’m not surprised they’re having issues in getting this to the screen. The kids in the book are no more than 11 years old, and most often are six years old and smaller. To adapt this book for the big screen, they’d probably change all the ages and market it as a teen flick and the special effects, considering it would be a teen/kids’ flick, would be minimal.
oh wow it’s crazy because when i read a book all i’m thinking about is how awesome (or horrible) it would be in movie form. so wonderful to know i’m not the only one who thinks ahead that way! haha
I agree with the Giver but Catcher in the Rye will probably never happen- JD Salinger was pretty clear that he wanted the book to stand on its own as a creative work.
There was a lot of talk about The Giver becoming a movie, there was even a little progress I thought.
They had some actors set up, but then boom. It was all gone. No more Giver movie :'(
The author for Enders Game, Orson Scott Card has been working for a while to get it to the big screen but has been careful not to sign it away unless they agree to have the kids the same age as in the book. an animated version might be a better idea since marvel already does a comic for it.
NOOOOOOOO never turn Catcher in the Rye into a movie. It would ruin it forever! And also Salman Rushdie wrote a play of Midnight’s Children, though the best part of the book wasn’t the plot, but the magical realism shown throgh the diction.
Book trailers are so weird to me; I don’t know if I’ll ever get over them! (It doesn’t help that a lot of the trailers out there just look like cheesy, low-budget movies.)
As for book-to-film adaptations, one that always sticks out in my mind is the third Harry Potter film (yeah, I know, my nerd is showing) by Alfonso CuarÃ³n. He took major liberties with the plot and series, so I was surprised to find myself loving it. I think it’s because CuarÃ³n made it clear that you were watching his interpretation of the story, rather than an exact reproduction. And when done well, it can be really neat seeing how someone else visualizes a book, what sticks out to them, and what embellishments their imagination adds.
I have to add to the chorus of those against a Catcher movie – there would be no way to capture Holden’s voice in a movie and create the same impact as the novel, get the same message across about his character. It could never work, and JD Salinger never wanted it to happen.
J.D. Salinger would role over in his grave if Catcher in the Rye was made into a movie. He didn’t even want any of his writings published and I think it would be best to respect the authors wishes regardless of who ends up with the rights.
Sooooo, I’ve spent the better part of the last five years studying novel-to-film adaptation and the first thing I want to say is I wish people would get over “The Book Was Better” mentality. The forms can’t really compare: one is made of words, one is made of pictures… apples and oranges people!
But that said, no, I don’t think Catcher should evvvvvvver be a movie!
I love the idea of The Giver as a 21st century Wizard of Oz appeal. Maybe get Christopher Nolan to direct??
Catcher in the Rye will probably NEVER be made into a movie since Salinger hated movies and promised never to sell the rights to a make it a movie. However, now that he has passed it’s up to his wife and whatever’s in his will.
I love movie adaptations of books, because they bring the material to a wider audience and can inspire kids to check out the books the movies are derived from. Sometimes the adaptations are great (I loved Harry Potter #3 too) and sometimes they aren’t (I left Eclipse early and watching made me even less inclined to read the Twilight series). The quality of the adaptation depends on the ability of the actors and the vision of the director, not on the script’s following the book’s every word. The Giver and Ender’s Game would make awesome films, as they have great visual potential in addition to compelling storylines. I loved Eggers’ “Heartbreaking” but don’t think it would make that great of a movie, both because it’s a fictionalized biography and his family/friends might have issues with their portrayal and because, at least for me, much of the book’s charm lies in the way Eggers’ plays with language and text itself.
any “Amelia Peabody” books, as I can just see those playing out in my head as I read.
and the new book from Sarah Addison Allen, “The Girl Who Chased the Moon” would be adorable as a movie.
Of course, the books are always better! Movies just cannot grasp the depth of books! But movies give us a break from reality in an evening, whereas books take a little more time we do not always have 🙂
Anything by Tom Robbins! Or howabout… Dharma Bums or On the Road or Cry, The Beloved Country? I also loved The Orchid Thief, but “Adaptation” was such a let down! Try harder, guys! The book is amazing.
I actually need to hit the library because I haven’t read most of these books (shame!). I do not think the Giver should be a movie though! Part of the allure is that they don’t mention explicitly that there is no color for the first part of the book. I think movie people might add too many specifics that the book didn’t give to make it more watchable. Movies from books are often like Cliffnotes… the plot is there but the essence can be lost in the movie making hoo-hah
I truly wish we lived in a society where books like The Giver could be done justice in film form. The things possible with the technology today could really turn out a fantastic film for everyone, including those that hadn’t read the book; all the color changes, it could be visually spectacular while staying true to the text. HOWEVER, the urge to make a quick buck and the new 3D trend really make me pessimistic.
The LOTR trilogy, Chronicles of Narnia (1st film), and The Colour Purple were some of the few movies that lived up to their books’ fame and even went a bit further in making the series more approachable to potential readers. I would love to see someone like Alfonso Cuaron work on The Giver, or someone else that knows how to interpet those kinds of stories well into a film version.
Now I know that Wicked was made into a Broadway musical, but I would love to see it on the screen (sans theatrical bursts of singing).
me talk pretty one day would be one of the best movies ever
I’d love to see Catcher in the Rye on the screen, but I know J.D. Salinger out-and-out refused to allow a film version. I seem to recall his reason was he felt holden would find it too phony.
Of course, now that he’s dead, it may come up for negotiation. I’m sure his estate has something in place, but we can dream right?
I personally would love to see Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen made into a movie…it’d be great to see elephants and sequins and such.
I know that the Giver was adapted into a stage play (at Lois Lowry’s approval of course) and was pretty good. I think the scene where he sees color for the first time would be really powerful.
Regrettably, a filmed version of Wicked The Musical would sell and sell. The book(s) are so much better but insecure middle-school girls aren’t into intense moral discussions. what a downer.,
I adore Catcher in the Rye, and I generally like seeing movie adaptations of books; but there’s something about this book that-unless it means more to you than just a passing story about an angsty teen- you don’t understand. I am so very happy with J.D. Salanger for protecting the rights of his timeless book so well. If that book were ever made into a movie, it would ruin the novel forever. The point of Catcher in the Rye is to make something of oneself; to FIND oneself… no one will find oneself in a film adaptation that means something to the director and little others. The beauty in that book is that Holden can be anyone–not just a headlining movie star.
I thank you, J.D. Salanger, for protecting this story so well, and I’m sure all other folks in the world who truly love and UNDERSTAND this story of Mr. Caulfield are with me in saying this. I hope your estate was well set so this will NEVER be made into a movie.
The legacy of Holden Caulfield, Phoebe, and the mystery of where the ducks go in the winter will be lost to any generation that sees this work in film form. Some things, you just do NOT touch.
Movies are never as good as the books. They always disapoint me.
Turning Catcher in the Rye into a film would be completely disrespecting J.D. Salinger’s wishes.
Let’s not ruin a perfect book.
Instead of a Catcher in the Rye movie, what we really need is a King Dork movie. So good. If you loved or hated Catcher, you should read it!
If Catcher in the Rye was turned into a movie, they would cast Robert Pattinson/Zac Efron etc as Holden and we would have a generation of fans who went to see the movie to stare at said actor and would have never appreciated CitR for its true… well, genius, imo.
*I’m not saying that would be a bad thing to have them in a movie…
but just don’t do it lol
Speaking of Wicked, I think Confessions of An Ugly Stepsister would be a great movie.
You can’t really compare a book to a movie even when the movie’s adapted from a book because they’re two different form of arts. Movies have a different pace then books which is faster and thats why more often then not things are cut out. The movies never going to be quite like the book but I think you can really tell the talent of a director and screen writer when they’re able to take out parts of the book and still keep the message of the movie intact.
The thing about a moive is you’re not going to want to see a movie that’s 5 hours nor do you wanna see a 20 movie series. It’s a give a take kinda thing.
Catcher in the Rye should definitely not be made into a movie. It goes against everything Holden Caulfield & J.D. Salinger stood for.
If Catcher in the Rye becomes a movie, I will have lost all my faith in the human race. A movie will ruin that beautiful piece of literature and simply turn it into another money-making scheme. Salinger was so profoundly against turning Catcher into a movie that if it should happen, there would be no way to further disrespect the author.
However, I agree that The Giver should be made into a film, and it is going to be; according to IMDb, the release is set for sometime in 2011.
Apparently no one here has seen the movie “The Good Girl”, which is as close to the big screen as Catcher in the Rye will probably ever get.
They use a character named Holden who is obsessed with the novel as only part of their plot, rather than basing it entirely around the novel. It’s actually pretty good in my opinion, but I do agree that a movie based only and entirely on the novel would make any Catcher in the Rye fan cringe
Salinger put it in his will that if any of them allow a film adaptation of Catcher in the Rye to be made they lose their inheritance. Thank god!
no movie of catcher in the rye! that faux-movie poster put the fear in me. Gotta keep it pure
I love One Hundred Years of Solitude!!!
Marquez is an awesome storyteller. This book would make a wonderful film!!
I can’t believe the giver hasn’t been made into a movie yet. I thought they were still working on the Giver though:
Most certainly The Giver. I’ve been wishing and hoping for the day someone is brave enough to make it into a movie.
Isn’t the director of one of the Harry Potter films doing The Giver?
To Norma and her comment about wicked…..the movie would be done by Adam Shankman……..along with being a judge on so you think you can dance, he was also involved with the updated hairspray movie, so he needs to stop working on the show and all his other commitments/ charity work and the movie will happen 😀
As far as book to film adaptations go, The Road is by far the best I have ever seen. The film was able to stay extremely true to the book, while adding some amazing visuals.
Ender’s Game all the way!
I’ve been pretty disappointed with a lot of film adaptions, but there are definitely a few excellent ones. I thought Peter Jackson did an incredible job with LOTR, and To Kill A Mockingbird is an amazing movie.
I don’t see how Catcher In the Rye could be made into a movie- but i guess it’s worth a shot. It’s impossible to ruin that book for me- I love it too much. 🙂
oh my, if the catcher in the rye were to be made as a film i’d be ever so excited!
that is one of my favorite books.
love this blog/modcloth 🙂
“One Hundred Years of Solitude” hasn’t been turned into a film yet because the author, GarcÃa Marquez, wants specifically a Latin American to direct it… Pity, but understandable, I guess.
im not really familiar with any of the books (im not very well read, sadly), but i didnt like The Catcher in the Rye. maybe its brilliance went over my head, or it is simply all hype. anyways, even if i did like it the movie would be so incredibly depressing. i couldnt watch it. Lois Lowry, who wrote The Giver, also wrote another amazing book called “Number the Stars” which would make a great movie about the Holecaust. just sayin <3
i haven’t read many of these books. gee, i better get my read on.
I’d also hate to see Catcher in the Rye as a movie….but for the opposite reason. I really struggled to get through that book because Holden just really irritated me to no end, and I don’t think I could sit through another two hours of being inside his head!
I wouldn’t mind Ender’s Game as a movie, if they did it right. I’m actually thinking it might be better as an animated movie rather than a live-action. Particularly given the age of the kids involved, and how brutal it gets.
I would like to see a really well-done version of Diana Wynne Jones’ novel Howl’s Moving Castle (and maybe its sequels too). As much as I adore Hayao Miyazaki’s work, his adaptation really didn’t do the book justice.
Master and Margarita by Bulgakov would make a tremendous film. It has magic, humor, history, and, more importantly, a poignant depiction of humanity and love. No adaptation of this beautiful novel ever came out well. The pretentious acting style that seems to pervade Russian cinema (with exception of very few incredible actors) and low budget made the most recent one a complete flop. A Hundred Years of Solitude is also an excellent suggestion. I would also love to see an adaptation of Lolita that is true to the novel..
there’s something always lacking when a book is adapted to a film. then again, i think these suggestions are helpful to getting people to read the books themselves! i would really like to see midnight’s children turned into a film!
The Giver was actually made into a play. My school is doing it next year for our festival drama competition. I’m going to be playing Lily and it’s going to be very exciting to work with the elements of black and white in a stage production.
while catcher in the rye shouldn’t be made into a film because of salinger’s opposition, people expect way too much when watching film adaptations of books. books and film are two very distinct art forms, so an idea that is beautiful written on a page is unlikely to directly translate into film, even in the most capable hands. and films that attempts to be exactly like their book counterpart tend to be far more horrific than films that stray, and thus upset audiences more! expecting a film to be the same as a book is like expecting a rabbit to eat a dog.
I honestly don’t think Catcher should be made into a movie. It has such a character driven story that it wouldn’t translate well onto the silver screen. Movie-Holden would just come off as a nutso, asking taxi cab drivers where the Central Park birds go during winter. Any adaptation would have to be heavily narrated or ridiculously artsy to even begin to cover the same ground as the book.
I hope Catcher in the Rye is never made into a film. Salinger has always stood by that he does not want his work on the silver screen. Now that he has passed on I hope that people will respect his wishes and not make his work into a movie.
I love Ender’s Game! I really hope they do make it into a movie, because I read somewhere they were, but I read somewhere else that they cancelled the production.
I heard some time ago that Wicked was going to be made into a movie, actually.
As much as I love The Neverending Story movie, it pales in comparison to the book. Michael Ende hated it so much, that he refused to have his name associated with it. Leonardo DiCaprio is apparently working on a new film version, which I’m excited about.
For some reason, I’d love to produce a stage musical version of Everything Is Illuminated. Kevin McHale as Jonathan, anyone?
100 years of solitude cannot be adapted into a movie. They would never be able to capture the magic of the book. Someone tried to adapt love in the time of cholera, i don’t believe that worked out well.
I agree that J.D. Salinger did NOT want Catcher in the Rye to ever be made into a film and that wish should be upheld.
Now, I personally would love to see some of Poe’s short stories be made into a movie, or short films 😛
It would be impossible to make one hundred years of solitude into a movie. First, the size of the book would make it have to be 2 movies, a la harry potter and breaking dawn. Secondly, the long and descriptive passages Garcia Marquez uses would not translate well to film, bc the film would lose the appeal that makes the book so wonderful.
Although I am not normally a fan of turning books into movies.. The Giver is one of my favorite books and am intrigued by the idea of seeing it come to life through a movie. It would probably get even more hype which it definitely deserves!
Catcher in the Rye should never be made into a movie. As cool as it would be to really see him walking through NYC, I really hope people respect his wishes. The man didn’t even want cover art on his novel.
Every time I read Catcher in the Rye (and it’s been quite a few times) I think how I wish it could be a movie. Then I ultimately decide that somehow it just wouldn’t translate into film.
I agree with what people have been saying about Catcher In The Rye, it should never be made a film. Personally, I don’t like when books are made into movies, as I feel that books and movies are separate art forms and should be treated as such.
(when I saw the picture to this blog entry, my heart stopped briefly in fear, haha 😛 )
haha last year my teacher gave us the giver to read for a project i thought it was amazing!!!
The last time I remember was that Catcher in the Rye was a movie (but under another name). After that, Salinger hated it and then there goes the rights saying NO.
But now that the author’s dead, aren’t we waiting for 10 years to see what happens to it.
Do you realize how boring Catcher in the Rye would be if it were made into the movie? All of the cleverness of the book is mostly internal action inside Holden’s mind; his thoughts, and movies can’t properly express that, so I believe it would be next to impossible to make the movie actually interesting.
The Catcher in the Rye is one of the best books ever written..but it’s stupid to put it on this list. You’ve probably never even read it or you’d know how dumb Holden thinks movies really are. And Salinger never wanted it to be a movie. It would ruin it. Why can’t people read a damn book these days and take it for what it is?
The Giver is such an amazing book and making it into a movie sounds good in theory, but if that were to happen, everyone except the director would dislike it, because everyone has a different view of the book. I’m thinking that Frannie in Pieces by Delia Ephron would make a great movie!! Also, does anyone know if the movie Il Postino is based on a book??
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