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HERALD STAFF PICKS: Our favorite book-to-movie adaptations

June 13, 2013


June 13--"Blade Runner" by Philip K. Dick. (Film: 1982)

Maybe, I'm not cerebral enough, but the movie is definitely better than Philip K. Dick's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep." Both are about a future in which robots -- that look, think and sometimes feel emotions like humans -- are used as slave labor on off-world colonies. Should these "replicants" attempt to return to Earth, a special police squad hunts them down and "retire" them. So, basically, the book and the movie are a meditation on what being human means.

The book, which I read after viewing the movie, is also a meditation on the alienation that those living in modern society feel from the natural world (or something like that). People use machines to feel emotions, and they own robotic livestock, the eponymous electric sheep.

The movie turned the whole thing into a film noir with Harrison Ford playing the hard-boiled private eye and Sean Young playing the damsel in distress, surrounded by a gritty, corrupt Los Angeles of the future, where the sky is always dark. It's one of my favorite movies. For my money, if there's going to be a lot of philosophizing, a good plot ought to involve guns and dames, not robot sheep and mood organs.

Tu-Uyen Tran, Night Editor

"The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins. (Film: 2012)

Sure, "The Hunger Games" film adaptation omitted a few things, but it also answered some questions that the book, being told from the perspective of one character, couldn't answer (i.e. How did Haymitch send those air-drop packages to Katniss and Peeta in the cave? How was Seneca Crane executed?) A new director is creating the sequel, so hopefully he's read the book too.

Will Beaton, Herald Staff Writer

"The Outsiders" by S.E. Hinton. (Film: 1983)

The book alone was amazing, but when you get to see the characters (all pretty darn hot) in the movie (Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Matt Dillon, etc), dressed as bad boys, it gets SO much better!

Kelly Ross, Herald Inserter

"Different Seasons," by Stephen King. (Films: 1986, 1994, 1998)

Hands down the best book-to-movie adaptation has to be "Different Seasons" by Stephen King.

Haven't heard of that movie?

Oh, but you have.

"Different Seasons" was a collection of four novellas that spawned three movies: "Apt Pupil," "Stand By Me" and "Shawshank Redemption."

The book was a departure for King from his usual horror fare into a world of drama. What the films all got right were capturing the torture that the characters felt in the stories.

Except for the endings, all three films stayed true to the stories that spawned them, and Shawshank has to be the closest adaptation of a book I've ever seen, save for a few minor details.

Tim Albrecht, Multimedia Producer

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams. (Film: 2005)

The movie does differ from the book in a few parts of the story line and subplots, but maintains the hilarity and wit Douglas Adams intends in his writing. I read the book with a highlighter in hand to make sure I could mark the quotes I loved that didn't make it into the movie. They are ridiculous and many.

Lisa Gibson, Agweek Editor

"The Golden Compass" by Philip Pullman. (Film: 2007)

I loved "The Golden Compass" movie, which is the first book in the "His Dark Materials" book series. It's too bad they never continued it. Even though it didn't follow the book 100 percent, it was a magical story, and I loved the artistic quality of the scenes and the performance of the actors (especially Dakota Blue Richards as "Lyra," the main character).

Katie Hastings, Creative Services Assistant

"Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald. (Film: 2013)

The colorful descriptions of the extravagant parties made this my favorite book as a kid. It's one of the only book-to-movie adaptations that turned out just how I pictured it.

Jasmine Maki, Accent Staff Writer

"A River Runs Through It" by Norman MacLean. (Film: 1992)

Robert Redford directed the 1982 film in the spirit of the magical 1976 novella that Norman MacLean wrote at age 70, a book that devastated me when I read it as a young man because I knew there was more truth and beauty in it than I could then fully comprehend. Book and movie captured the beauty of the river and the land and the mysteries of fly fishing, human relationships, time and life.

The film ends with Norman, a gnarled old man, fly fishing by himself and ruminating on all that has happened in his life. "I am haunted by waters," he says.

I am haunted by that image, and by lines like these, from the last sermon Norman heard his fly-fishing Presbyterian minister father deliver:

"Each one of us here today will, at one time in our lives, look upon a loved one in need and ask the same question: We are willing Lord, but what, if anything, is needed? For it is true that we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don't know what part of ourselves to give, or more often than not, that part we have to give... is not wanted. And so it is those we live with and should know who elude us... But we can still love them... We can love -- completely -- even without complete understanding..."

Chuck Haga, Staff writer

"The Notebook" by Nicholas Sparks. (Film: 2004)

In watching other movie versions of a book, I find novels have so much more depth and character. In this case, I found the opposite occurred. As a film, "The Notebook" had characters that had so much more depth and emotion than the book version.

Lisa Hams, Classified Consultant

"Little Children," by Tom Perrotta. (Film: 2006)

Tom Perrotta's book "Little Children" was so insightful and rich in its character study. He so clearly and succinctly represented their frames of mind, and the film version did a great job of translating. With stars Kate Winslet, Patrick Wilson and Jennifer Connolly, I expected nothing less. I would highly recommend reading and watching both.

Melinda Lavine, Accent Editor

"A Clockwork Orange" by Anthony Burgess. (Film: 1971)

Director Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of author Anthony Burgess' novel "A Clockwork Orange" is a rare film adaptation that manages to stay true to the book while being a great film on its own. The movie captures Burgess' made-up Slavic/English street lingo and the dumpy nihilism of Burgess' book, set in some run-down ultraviolent future London.

The only problem is that Kubrick is said to have read an American edition that omitted the final chapter of the English novelist's book and so the film did not include the ending Burgess wrote. Still, I like Kubrick's ending better.

Christopher Bjorke, Herald Staff Writer


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