Best Movie Adaptations of Books

Books, Film

I’m a fan of both movies and books, and so it’s always interesting to me to see movies of books I’ve read, and to read the books on which movies I’ve seen were based.  That being said, some movies based on books just drop the ball.  They either try to change too much, or only pay a passing homage to the original source material and change almost everything else (looking at you I, Robot).

However, some movies do a great job of taking the written word and translating it to the screen.  Here are some of the best movie adaptations of books.

The Silence of the Lambs

The Silence of the Lambs

The sequal, Hannibal, wasn’t quite as a good an adaptation, partly because they changed the ending.  However, The Silence of the Lambs forever made Hannibal Lecter a pop-culture icon, which is pretty impressive considering he’s only on screen for about 16 minutes.

Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park

Ok, yes, there are departures from the book to the movie, but let’s be honest, the important parts of the book, are still very much alive in the movie.  Jurassic Park is one of those films that made changes when filming because nobody wants the lawyer to be the hero he is in the book, we want to see him get eaten by a T-Rex while sitting on a toilet.

Dune

Dune

I’m referring to the old Sci-Fi Channel miniseries.  While the David Lynch 1984 film did hold true to some parts of the book, the miniseries starring Alec Newman was far more comprehensive and true to the source material.

Interview with the Vampire

Interview with the Vampire

Whether or not you like the books, the film of the same name starring Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, and a very young Kirsten Dunst was at the very least faithful to the source material.  While they did change the age of Armand by having him portrayed by Antonio Banderas, he was a minor character in the film and it was understandable why they wouldn’t want a 17 year old to play the role.

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe



The classic children’s books brought to film.  There had been other adaptations, notably a BBC series, but the major motion picture introduced the story to a new generation and did an excellent job of staying true to the source material.

Fight Club

Fight Club

Most people were unaware that this even was a book.  While the ending of the film diverges from the books ending, it’s still a faithful adaptation and the cult success of the movie brought enhanced attention to the book.

High Fidelity

High Fidelity

They changed the main character’s last name and moved the where the film takes place from London to Chicago.  This is one of the films that all women should see to better understand men, and it’s a book that all men should read because reading is good for you.

Harry Potter

Harry Potter

I’ve never read any of the books and I’ve only seen a few of the films, but every person I’ve talked to swears that the movies are extremely faithful.  That’s good enough for me.  Obviously the movies wouldn’t have been so successful if they weren’t faithful to the books as the legions of screaming fans wouldn’t have let the second one be made if they weren’t good.

While I’ve never read any of the Harry Potter novels, I can respect them driving a new generation of children to reading books instead of watching television all day.

American Psycho

American Psycho

Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman was inspired.  The narration, the story, everything about this film was a perfect draw from a haunting book.  If you haven’t read the book or seen the film, do both.

The Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings

You knew this one was coming.  Especially when you take the extended edition DVDs into account, these three films are amazing adaptations of a beloved trilogy and helped a new generation of readers find their way into Middle Earth.  The casting and cinematography were brilliant, and the faithfulness to the source material makes it all the better.

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