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When They Turn a Classic Book into a Movie and Other Dilemmas

13 Mar

I’m several days behind on this piece of news, but on the off-chance you haven’t heard, the classic beat generation book On the Road is being turned into a movie and the trailer has been released:

Now, I’ve never read Jack Kerouac, but any lit nerd worth their salt knows someone who toted this book around with them in high school or early college (or maybe even beyond), and the idea of it being a movie now might be a reason for them to go into a period of mourning. This period of mourning might also be in part because Kristen Stewart, the highly emotive actress, is in it, but I digress.

Whether or not you’re a fan of Kerouac, I think we can all relate to the strange sensation of seeing a favorite book adapted to the big screen and thinking to ourselves, “My God, why the awful special effects? Why such dreadful casting? Why did they cut that wonderful scene in that wonderful part of the book that was so wonderful for me to read that first time around?” It’s always a shock, and it’s rarely done faithfully to the work itself. As obvious as it might be to point out, one of the few times Hollywood did try to make a movie that was completely faithful to the book was the seventh Harry Potter movie, and they cut that into two parts. There are also BBC versions of Jane Austen works that follow the text so closely they are nearly four hours long.

What say you, Better Know a Book-ers? Do you have a favorite book-turned-movie? Least favorite? What makes a good, faithful version that isn’t a million hours long?


For the Academy’s Consideration: Some Romantic Literary Movies (A Good Story Series #2.5)

11 Feb

Now, I’m all for reading, but let’s face it. A good movie can be just as satisfying as a good book! Especially ones with a literary flavor. So I’ve come up with a list of my favorite “literary” movies for a warm, cozy Valentine’s Day night in, whether with your significant other, with friends, or all by your lonesome. So pop the butteriest (can that be a word now?) popcorn you can find, buy your favorite kind of chocolate, get a warm blanket, and dive into these picks. If I’ve missed anything obvious, do list it in the comments below:

1) “Midnight in Paris”

Based off of this Woody Allen sketch, Woody Allen showcases the angst of a contemporary writer in Paris who goes on magical rides into the Paris of the 1920s. As he rides off to party with F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda, drink with Hemingway, and banter with Gertrude Stein, he falls in love, learns a thing or two about nostalgia, and what it means to love a place, a time, and a person (modernist or no!).

2) “Stranger than Fiction”

You know if it’s Will Ferrell, it’s probably going to be funny. In this movie, Harold Crick is not only protagonist of the movie, but of a book as well, meaning he hears the narration of his life as the writer writes it all down. This means Harold also knows he is about to die. As he desperately tries to avoid this awful fate, he falls in love–and must ultimately find a way around the fate this “writer” has set out for him.

3) “Shakespeare in Love”

This is a cheesy choice to list. I know that. But let’s face it. It’s an idea about the life of Shakespeare, and it IS very romantic. So for those of you who have a Shakespeare craving now and again, check out this adaptation of his life and works. It’s a sure-fire win for Valentine’s Day romance, if that’s what you’re looking for.

4) “Bright Star”

If you’re really looking for a love story, a real true love story, look no further than Keats. As a young, penniless poet who would hugely influence the Romantic movement, Keats fell in love with a woman named Fannie Brawne, a girl above his class, and the subject of many of his letters and poetry. Yet when he falls deathly ill extremely fast, their romance heats up, as class and love do battle head-to-head.

5) “Becoming Jane”

While not the most historically accurate film, Austen fans everywhere may enjoy this story of Jane Austen’s supposed romance with LeFroy, an arrogant-seeming man who won her affections. Though Austen may never have married, many may love the idea of her own story lines coming to life. Indulgent? Yes. Fun for her fans? You betcha.