There have been hundreds of books made into movies since the golden age of film but unfortunately in most instances the adaptation’s quality didn’t match that of the literary work. One major example of this failure was The Scarlet Letter, starring Gary Oldman and Demi Moore, despite whose performances the film violated the classic to the point where New York Times critic Caryn James angrily stated,
“If you have heard anything about this film, you probably know the filmmakers have added a happy ending. As it turns out, they have also changed the beginning, the middle, and the very essence of the book. That’s okay. The problem is not that the novel was changed, but that it was changed to something so trashy and nonsensical.”
If you happen to love certain books and want to see their film version, don’t get too disheartened because there have been a number of movies that rivaled (or even surpassed, in a few cases) the text they were based on. The list of 25 Movies That Rival Their Literary Originals that follows will make literature fans who also enjoy a good film every now and then happy.
Jurassic Park is an epic ’90’s sci-fi adventure film directed by the master of the kind, Steven Spielberg, who got his inspiration for the movie from the 1990 novel of the same name by Michael Crichton. The film grossed a phenomenal $1.063 billion at the box office, one of the first movies in history to surpass the $1 billion “barrier” worldwide.
Memoirs of a Geisha
The strange thing about this book, written by American author Arthur Golden and published in 1997, is that on the surface, it is all Japanese, but underneath it is all American male in thought. Reading the book is like watching a magnificent ballet with great music, sets, and costumes but performed by barnyard animals in those costumes—so far from the Japanese vision were the characters. The movie is not about Japan, its culture, or real geishas. It is the story of a few American men’s mistaken ideas about Japan and geishas filtered through their own ignorance and misconceptions. So what is this movie if it isn’t about Japan or the geisha experience? One must watch to find out.
One of the best films of the past few years, Gone Girl narrates the events surrounding Nick Dunne (portrayed beautifully by Ben Affleck), who becomes the primary suspect in the sudden disappearance of his wife in a psychological thriller that will take your breath away. The screenplay by Gillian Flynn was based on her 2012 novel of the same name.
The Bourne Identity
The Bourne Identity is undoubtedly the best action spy thriller of the previous decade, and the film that transformed Matt Damon from a talented actor and screenwriter to a superstar and an action movie hero. It was based on Robert Ludlum’s novel of the same name and grossed $215 million globally.
Goodfellas, which has been cited as the greatest mob film of the 1990’s, was directed by Martin Scorsese, and is based on the 1986 nonfiction work Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi, who co-wrote the screenplay. To prepare for their roles, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Ray Liotta often spoke with Pileggi, who shared research material left over from writing the book to help them develop their roles as closely as possible to the text’s characters. Judging from the result, things went pretty awesomely.