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Dicussion | Favourite Book To Film Adaptations

Today’s post, our first ever Discussion here at Blogger’s Bookshelf, comes from regular reviewer Erin & guest reviewer Cat. We have been friends since we met at University where we bonded over our love of watching, and more importantly, criticising films. Since films have been a big part of our friendship we have decided to collaborate on a post all about our favourite book to film (and television!) adaptations. We hope you enjoy it!

Cat's No. 3: Starter for 10, David Nicholls (2003) – Starter for 10, Tom Vaughan (2006)

I shall begin with my one of my favourite books, Starter for 10 by David Nicholls. For years I have reread this book at least five times a year and so the film had a lot to live up to! I have to say that the adaptation was surprisingly better than I expected, I think the casting is marvellous; with James McAvoy as the right sort of embarrassing geek and Rebecca Hall who manages to exude an air of political righteousness. I was impressed that David Nicholls actually wrote the screenplay, and so felt comfortable in the knowledge that book was in safe hands for its adaptation. Of course there were subtle changes to certain conversations and scenes, however I imagine that this does have to happen in some cases so that the film can appeal to a wider audience, and the small things were no great loss to the narrative. However my favourite element to the film is the soundtrack; there are plenty of Kate Bush and The Cure songs to set the scene of the 80s and you can quite happily immerse yourself into the story.

Erin's No. 3: Fight Club, Chuck Palaniuk 1996 – Fight Club, David Fincher 1999

My first choice is FightClub, written back in 1996 by Chuck Palaniuk, and arguably a cult classic of both the book and film worlds. In this case I actually saw the film several years before I read the book but right from the first line of both you’re left wanting to know more about Tyler Durden. The film has an impressive cast led by Edward Norton, Brad Pitt and Helena Bonham Carter and was directed beautifully by the very talented David Fincher. It seems in the majority of cases that audiences prefer the original books to their film adaptations however with Fight Club opinion is very divided. Despite the fact that the plot differs quite a lot and although the film didn’t do as well as expected at the box office both formats are highly praised by audiences and critics alike. Even the author of the book, Chuck Palaniuk, reportedly stated that he preferred the film adaptation to his own work! Thanks to the vision of Fincher the direction of the film reflects the style of the book perfectly and is more of a companion to it’s novel roots than a rival. Five years have now passed since I first read Fight Club and scanning through it to write for this post has made me realise how much I definitely want to re-read it in 2013!

Cat's No. 2: Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen (1811) – Sense and Sensibility, John Alexander (2008)

Ok, so I know the BBC adaptation of Sense and Sensibility cannot technically be called a film as it was made for television, however I felt it necessary to include in this post, as I absolutely adore it. Out of the two Jane Austen novels I have read (Pride and Prejudice being the other), I much prefer actually reading Sense and Sensibility as I find the narrative more engaging. I was excited when I heard this was being shown over the Christmas holidays a few years ago as I am a BIG fan of Andrew Davies’ screenplays for Jane Austen novels (BBC Pride and Prejudice being one of my all time favourites). The programme, although three hours long, is wonderfully engaging and the cinematography beautiful, I would highly recommend the book and adaptation.

Erin's No. 2: Memento, Christopher Nolan 2000 - Memento Mori, John Nolan 2002
Book pictured: The Making of Memento, James Mottram 2002

Some people may class my second choice as cheating because of the complicated way short story Memento Mori and screenplay for Memento came to be. The two were written simultaneously after Christopher came up with the idea to present his brother John’s idea backwards in film format. Memento Mori is only around 5500 words and was not published until it appeared in a 2002 issue of Esquire magazine, two years after the film’s release. Everything about the film is genius right from the opening credits where we get to watch a Polaroid photograph develop backwards. The film is made up of two sequences; the black & white scenes are shown in chronological order and those in colour play out in reverse which when cleverly edited together fits the main theme of memory perfectly. I could write a whole post on how fascinating the making of this film is but today I’m supposed to be talking about books, so let’s get back to that! The book pictured above is all about the making of the film but includes a copy of Memento Mori as an appendix and is where I first read the original story. The making of book itself is also a really interesting read especially if you’re a fan of the film or like me you have an interest in how films are made. The short story does differ from the film but is a quick and engaging stand-alone read. It can be found to read online free here.

Cat's No. 1: Atonement, Ian McEwan (2001) – Atonement, Joe Wright (2007)

And lastly, my favourite film adaptation would be Joe Wright’s Atonement. The cinematography is astonishing, the tones and colours are completely on target, and the direction is amazing. The film stays as true to the book as you could imagine. The book and film narrate three major sections of Briony’s life, however it is not until the pivotal end scene where the truth becomes clear. I do feel that without a written narrative, Briony’s thought process behind blaming Robbie is slightly unclear to those who have not read the book before hand, but adding this to the film would have ruined the tone completely. Having said that, the acting is extremely believable and well played out. The musicality is also astonishing, the use of typewriter sounds create atmosphere and urgency to the early scenes, tying in with Robbie’s letter writing, everything is so well thought out and aesthetically pleasing. I love this film, the book was a little tough to get into (I read it in preparation of heading to the cinema) I think that overall, I prefer the film to the book. This is one amazing story.

Erin's No. 1: About A Boy, Nick Hornby 1996 – About A Boy, Paul & Chris Weitz 2002

My third choice and favourite book to film adaptation is About A Boy which was also the first book I reviewed here at Blogger’s Bookshelf. As a huge fan of the film since it’s cinematic release back when I was just thirteen, this year I set out to finally read Hornby’s original novel. Luckily I enjoyed reading the story just as much as watching it and even though the film ending differs quite dramatically from the book it still manages to do the text justice as both conclusions of the story are satisfying in their own way. The light-hearted and sarcastic humour that manages to lift even the most difficult of topics is executed perfectly in both the book and the film, a factor I believe was key to the success of the adaptation. As adaptations go, similarly to Fight Club, this one has been highly praised and actually received an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay although it lost out to The Pianist. I won’t say anymore as I have already written a full review but if you are interested in About A Boy you can find my post here.

What are your favourite book to film adaptations? 

This post was written by Erin (@sawyerandscout) & Cat (@cococat88)
Photographs © Erin / Cat

1 comment

  1. Quite ashamed to say that whilst I've seen most of these films, I haven't read the books for alot of them *bad bibliophile!*
    I definitely need to get on and read Starter For 10, I love the adaptation so am hoping the book will be just as good.

    Personally am a bit hit and miss when it comes to favourite adaptations. The Hunger Games came pretty close, and I love most of the Austen adaptations. I would say The Help is probably one of the best I've seen though.


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