Greetings and salutations!
Today I’m going to talk about some of my favorite book to movie adaptations – just like it says on the tin. I love books and I love movies, and when the two come together, it touches a chord in me that cannot be duplicated. I won’t tarry on a long-winded introduction: let’s get to the meat of the post, shall we?
What makes a book to movie adaptation terrific? If the movie captures the essence of the book, the characters and offers the same or improved ending from the book. Mind you, a terrific adaptation doesn’t necessarily mean the movie sticks as close to the book as white on rice, nor does it mean the movie leaves you with a terrific feeling. It just means that as a reader of the book, you’re satisfied with the spirit of the movie.
Here, in no particular order, are my top ten terrific movie adaptations.
We Need to Talk about Kevin – Tilda Swinton can make anything good. If you haven’t read the book yet, watching the movie gives you a taste of the awful foreboding of the book. You know something is going to happen, the question is just. when. This movie will not make you comfortable.
Jurassic Park – Now this movie was a bundle of fun for me. Yes, the book was a lot more techincal and dense to get through, but the screen writers managed to sprinkle in the genetics along side the breathtaking spectacle of the dinosaurs on scree. An excellent film that I watch every time it comes on television.
The Godfather – The book was good, but it did include a few side stories that detracted from the main narrative. The movie slashed and burned enough of those side stories and emphasized the family saga. It helped that the author, Mario Puzo, had a hand in writing the screenplay.
The Silence of the Lambs – What more can be said? The movie made me read the book, and I wasn’t disappointed.
To Kill a Mockingbird – The actors (Robert Duvall’s first screen role as Boo Radley), made the book come alive. The only person I missed in the movie was Calpurnia. Her part in the book seemed to be larger and wittier.
No Country for Old Men – The Coen Brothers helped bring Cormac McCarthy’s story to life. Both movie and book complement each other.
The Remains of the Day – I went to see this in the movies and I did have tears. Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson really bring Kazou Ishiguro’s story to life.
Wiseguy – I never met a gangster movie I didn’t like. Re-titled “Goodfellas”, the movie actually improves on the newspaper style reporting of the book and brings the characters to life in blooming color.
The Shining – While I did not care for the character death in movie, I really felt that Kubrick’s adaptation captured the essence (yes, that word again) of the book and the frightening visuals and hidden clues are quite effective.
Requiem for a Dream – This is a film that I never wish to see ever again. A gut-wrenching odyssey of three separate stories of drug addiction, Requiem for a Dream is a visceral experience that leaves the viewer stunned. The book is a little more “in your face” than the movie is, but both are effective.
Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption – Renamed as The Shawshank Redemption….well, I’m pretty sure that you’ve all heard of the movie, yes?
Into the Wild – Written by Jon Jon Krakauer, who freaked me out with Into Thin Air, about folks climbing Mt. Everest, Into the Wild is the story of a young man who wanted to live off the land in the wilds of Alaska.
Hey! It’s Music Monday!
There’s nothing I like better on a cold winter’s evening (and sometimes in the summer too) is a cup of Irish coffee and some dark classical music. Whether it be a mournful aria or a draggy dirge in a lovely minor key, the dulcet tones of a sorrowful violin or the lamenting mezzo-sorprano.
I thrive on that shit.
Forget about the dog dying in movies or some drama on television. Youwant to bring a tear to my eye, play me a tune in a minor key. Those gloomy chord progressions will get me every single time.
Here we go.
Dido’s Lament – Dido and Aeneas, Henry Purcell
In operas, someone always dies. Here, it’s Dido. She’s taken poison because her great love, Aeneas, has abandoned her. Grab the tissue and take a look at her first lines: (Belinda is her lady in waiting)
“Thy hand Belinda….darkness shades me….on thy bosom, let me rest…
More I would….but death invades me….Death is now a welcome guest….”
And the great, greatc Jessye Norman brings these lyrics right to your doorstep.
“Remember me….but ah! Forget my fate…..”
Moonlight Sonata – Beethoven
One of the comments on this video (paraphrase): “I listen to this in the dark with a cup of tea…like a psychopath”
Frederic Chopin – Waltz in A minor
Sergei Rachmaninoff – Prelude, Opus 2 #2 in C sharp minor
John Williams – Theme from Schindler’s List, Performed by Itzhak Perlman
Go ahead. Get the tissues, sob, breathe, then touch up your black eyeliner and tighten the laces on your Doc Martens. I hope you enjoyed my little gothy list of classical songs.
Peace, Love, Unity
Horror is different for everyone. I don’t think the “experts” can agree on what horror is and thus there are tons of movies and books that represent the horror
genre, as it should be.
I also believe that horror is different depending on where you are in your life. What’s represents horror for a twenty-year-old might be old-hat to a forty year old. Books that resounded for me in my twenties are just “eh” now that I’m a lovely seasoned woman of a certain age.
But Stephen King’s Pet Semetary broke that mold. It’s just as frightening now as when I first read it many years ago.
Here’s the blurb
“Sometimes dead is better….”When the Creeds move into a beautiful old house in rural Maine, it all seems too good to be true: physician father, beautiful wife, charming little daughter, adorable infant son — and now an idyllic home. As a family, they’ve got it all…right down to the friendly cat.
But the nearby woods hide a blood-chilling truth — more terrifying than death itself…and hideously more powerful.
SPOILERS SPOILERS sort of SPOILERS sort of SPOILERS SPOILERS
My goodness, what a story. It runs the gamut from the “real-life” horror of the death of a child and the grief that follows, to the otherworldly horror that awaits when the family tries to alleviate the grief that follows the death of a family pet.
The first time I read the story the scene on the hill wasn’t so horrifying. You know why? Because I didn’t have children of my own. I think I was more touched by the death of the pet than I was by the other. However, when I read it now, that scene on the hill makes my gut twinge and jump. After reading it, I had to go “check on the children”. Having children of my own makes the following scenes more poignant and so much more touching.
Sympathy turning to empathy.
SPOILERS END (they were half-assed anyway)
My theory of horror if you’re “just watching” it makes it a lot less scary. “This could never happen to me because blah blah”. When an ordinary situation turns into a “horror” situation, something that could happen to anyone, something that is plausible (with a little “what if” thrown in) that’s when the true terror begins.
Pet Sematary is about grief, loss and at its core, the horror of not letting go and where it can get you.
We all know ’em, don’t we? The friend of a friend of my cousin who….they all start out that way and always end badly for that sort-of person we kinda know. They even made a movie (or three) about it, then there was that television series that acted them out (badly) for you.
Let’s talk about a few of these, shall we? And remember to leave the light on….
The story of the clown statue murderer is an urban legend. It is not a true story but can spark fear in anyone who reads it. It has been passed around as a chain letter online since 2004.
Here is the story:
“A girl in her teens is babysitting for a family in Newport Beach, Ca. The family is wealthy and has a very large house – you know the sort, with a ridiculous amount of rooms. Anyways, the parents are going out for a late dinner/movie. The father tells the babysitter that once the children are in bed she should go into this specific room (he doesn’t really want her wandering around the house) and watch TV there.
The parents take off and soon she gets the kids into bed and goes to the room to watch TV. She tries watching TV, but she is disturbed by a clown statue in the corner of the room. She tries to ignore it for as long as possible, but it starts freaking her out so much that she can’t handle it.
She resorts to calling the father and asks, “Hey, the kids are in bed, but is it okay if I switch rooms? This clown statue is really creeping me out.”
The father says seriously, “Get the kids, go next door and call 911.”
She asks, “What’s going on?”
He responds, “Just go next door and once you call the police, call me back.”
She gets the kids, goes next door, and calls the police. When the police are on the way, she calls the father back and asks, “So, really, what’s going on?”
He responds, “We don’t HAVE a clown statue.” He then further explains that the children have been complaining about a clown watching them as they sleep. He and his wife had just blown it off, assuming that they were having nightmares.
The police arrive and apprehend the “clown,” who turns out to be a midget. A midget clown! I guess he was some homeless person dressed as a clown, who somehow got into the house and had been living there for several weeks. He would come into the kids’ rooms at nights and watch them while they slept. As the house was so large, he was able to avoid detection, surviving off their food, etc. He had been in the TV room right before the babysitter right came in there. When she entered he didn’t have enough time to hide, so he just froze in place and pretended to be a statue.
Yeah. As I said earlier on a discussion group, between IT and John Wayne Gacy, I don’t have any time for clowns.
And another to make your hair stand on end. This is an oldie but a still a goodie:
The Killer in the Backseat….
One night a woman went out for drinks with her girlfriends. She left the bar fairly late at night, got in her car and onto the deserted highway. After a few minutes she noticed a lone pair of headlights in her rear-view mirror, approaching at a pace just slightly quicker than hers. As the car pulled up behind her she glanced and saw the turn signal on — the car was going to pass — when suddenly it swerved back behind her, pulled up dangerously close to her tailgate and the brights flashed.
Now she was getting nervous. The lights dimmed for a moment and then the brights came back on and the car behind her surged forward. The frightened woman struggled to keep her eyes on the road and fought the urge to look at the car behind her. Finally, her exit approached but the car continued to follow, flashing the brights periodically.
Through every stoplight and turn, it followed her until she pulled into her driveway. She figured her only hope was to make a mad dash into the house and call the police. As she flew from the car, so did the driver of the car behind her — and he screamed, “Lock the door and call the police! Call 911!”
When the police arrived the horrible truth was finally revealed to the woman. The man in the car had been trying to save her. As he pulled up behind her and his headlights illuminated her car, he saw the silhouette of a man with a butcher knife rising up from the back seat to stab her, so he flashed his brights and the figure crouched back down.
The moral of the story: Always check the back seat!
Yes, they’re (mostly) not true, but don’t they give you a shiver?