Filmmakers often look to books to find interesting storylines that can be adapted onto the silver screen. However, the announcement of an imminent book-to-screen adaptation is not necessarily good news for avid readers. For fans of a certain author’s work, their biggest concern is the extent to which the film adaptation stays true to the original story.
Text and motion picture are two completely different mediums of storytelling ; while the former affords interpretive flexibility and allows for imagination, the latter is advantageous for its visual and audio elements. In translating a 400-page book into a 2-hour-long feature film, certain unadaptable content will always get abandoned and may even be changed depending on the taste of the director.
If cutting much of the story becomes a compulsory step prior to the filmmaking process, perhaps TV is a better choice. For television series, producers can recreate the fictional universe as imagined by authors and allow more in-depth character developments through the television’s episodic formats. These literary adaptations below truly exemplify how television is better than cinema when it comes to literary adaptations.
1. Game of Thrones
Via Mod DB
For seven years, these noble families’ tireless feud over who sits on the Iron Throne has remained on our radar. In fact, HBO’s adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy novels has seen so much success that it should be considered revolutionary. Much of its success derives from producers’ attention to detail as well as the actors’ realistic renditions of Martin’s original characters. With dragons, knights and mysterious magic, viewers are easily lured into the land of Westeros. Even with its complex family lines, shocking plot twists, unexpected deaths of beloved characters, and the number of scenes that involve gruesome violence, this series has broken viewership records and received more than 38 Primetime Emmy Awards.
2. The Handmaid’s Tale
In Hulu’s cunning adaptation of Canadian author Margaret Atwood’s dystopian fiction, The Handmaid’s Tale, Elisabeth Moss assumes the role of the rebellious handmaid, Offred. At Gilead, totalitarian regime has triumphed over democracy and rendered freedom of speech obsolete. Leading figures dictate control by reinforcing erroneous values and women are purely recognized for their reproductive abilities. Suspicions permeate society and oppression creates a dark and sombre mood also evident in Atwood’s novel. While capturing the essence of the original story, Hulu also offered eye-opening perspectives to the storyline by delving into the authority’s point of view.
3. Big Little Lies
Three moms, one small town and one troubling murder. HBO’s mini-series is an adapted version of Liane Moriarty’s best-selling novel of the same title, Big Little Lies. The story is set in Monterey, California, a tranquil town which you’d never expect to be a stage for trauma and abuse. With Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Shailene Woodley as the moms of the show, their differing-yet-compatible personalities is like a diminished cast of the housewives on Wysteria Lane.
4. Pride and Prejudice
Via the Jane Austen Film Club
Out of all the Pride and Prejudice adaptations, the 2005 film version starring Keira Knightley as Lizzie Bennet is perhaps the most well-known; however, the BBC television series deserves a round of applause for its authentic remake of Jane Austen’s timeless classic. Most importantly, this version is remembered for Colin Firth’s role as the proud and arrogant Mr. Darcy, especially the scene in which he took an impromptu swim in his shirt. One fun fact: BBC even erected a 12-foot fiberglass statue of Colin Firth in his white shirt as Darcy in the Serpentine, a lake in Hyde Park, London.
5. Sherlock Holmes
In comparison to Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law’s film adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s renowned detective series, BBC and Steven Moffat’s modern adaptation of Sherlock Holmes has received thumbs up for Benedict Cumberbatch’s excellent rendition of Holmes’ eccentric quirks. Still set in London, still in the same house at Baker Street, Holmes and Watson take on modernized criminal cases that truly revive Doyle’s masterful creation.
6. Mr. Mercedes
Via ET Online
Forget about The Dark Tower, Mr. Mercedes is the Stephen King adaptation you should not miss this year. Unlike King’s traditional horror fictions, Mr. Mercedes is more like an authentic and true-to-life thriller that follows a retired police detective who receives taunting threats from a deranged killer.
Feature image courtesy of The Seattle Times