Question of the Day

Mr. Shakes and I just watched The Constant Gardener, which was very good; I’m not much of a Ralph Fiennes fan (much to Mr. Shakes’ chagrin, as The English Patient is one of his favorite films), but even I appreciated him in this film. I like Rachel Weisz very much, and her Oscar nom for Best Supporting Actress is well deserved for this performance. I’m now interested in reading the book on which the film was based, about which author John Le Carre says he "came to realize [during the research] that, by comparison with the reality, my story was as tame as a holiday postcard.”

Anyhow, it got me thinking about books that have been turned into films, so today’s question is: Which is your favorite movie adaptation of a book or play you love? (Big screen or small screen adaptations are both fair game.)

I’d have to say my favorite is Lord of the Rings, which I know is a bit obvious and trite, but it really was a masterful stroke of genius, vision, and ability turning such a beloved book into such an amazing trilogy of impressive films. And the interpretation was pretty faithful; there were some changes I didn’t totally love (Faramir seemed to be too much of a Boromir II; he struck me as far less corruptible and troubled in the book, although that doesn’t make for much of a story arc in a film), but there were some changes that worked well, too—I know I risk the combined wrath of The Green Knight and Oddjob in saying this, but some parts of the book, especially in Frodo’s and Sam’s storyline, seemed endlessly tedious, and Peter Jackson edited them quite well.

That said, the first film that actually popped into my head when I considered the question was the 1999 Julie Taymor-directed big screen version of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, simply called Titus, and starring Anthony Hopkins in the title role. Titus Andronicus is generally not as widely read, modernly, as many of Shakespeare’s other plays, although it was extremely popular in its day—in both cases, the reason being its unapologetic bloodiness—but it’s one of my favorites, so I was excited to see the 1999 film version. And I certainly wasn’t disappointed. Taymor’s film is gorgeously shot, and mixes the modern with the ancient in a chaotic, but not distracting, cacophony—a quirky reimagining I quite liked, and found more successful than the somewhat similar style of Baz Lurrmann’s 1996 Romeo + Juliet. (I also really loved Alan Cumming as Saturninus.) I’ve recommended Titus many times, but I’m not sure anyone’s ever taken up my recommendation.

So there are my answers—the obvious and the less so. Other good adaptations that came to mind as particularly well done were The Cider House Rules, The Shawshank Redemption, Beloved, and Wonder Boys. I also thought of film adaptations that were better than the books on which they were based…but we’ll save that discussion for another day.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus