Every year there are multiple films adapted from novels and plays. This can be exciting or painful for those of us avid fans of the written word. When done well, it is exciting to see a favorite novel brought to the big screen. When it goes wrong, there is nothing that can rile a reader up more. No matter how the movie turns out though, most agree that you should (almost always — I have a few instances where I would never have read certain books before seeing the movie) read the book before you see the movie. So, in preparation for the rush of holiday blockbusters and Oscar contenders, here are 10 adaptations to be aware of. Perhaps a stop at the library is in order?
MacBeth (William Shakespeare):
Releasing December 1st this might be the adaptation I am anticipating the most. MacBeth is my favorite Shakespeare play and Justin Kurzel’s version has the look of a masterpiece. Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard also happen to be two of my favorite actors and if the trailer and reviews are anything to go off of, they will be bringing some of their best work to the screen this winter. If you enjoy Shakespeare, I would label this a must see.
The Scorch Trials (James Dashner):
The second film in the popular Maze Runner series, The Scorch Trials opens in just a few weeks on September 18th. The Gladers have left the Maze and are now racing across the barren landscape of “the Scorch” with many surprises along the way. A must see for fans of the books although I foresee it being a film that will vary a bit from the novel so be sure to read the first two books in the trilogy before you see it in theatres.
The Martian (Andy Weir):
Originally self-published as a few chapters on his blog, Andy Weir was encouraged by fans to put the full length novel of The Martian on Amazon. Within months it had hit the bestseller lists and Hollywood called. This Sci-Fi thriller is now releasing October 2nd and stars Matt Damon as astronaut Mark Watney who becomes stranded alone on Mars after he is separated from his crew. Watney must use his knowledge and the supplies he has left to ensure his survival until the next manned mission to Mars. Be sure to pick this one up before heading to the theatres.
(Dick Lehr and Gerard K. O’Neill): Following the life and career of the notorious Irish mobster, James Whitey Bulger, Black Mass provides a telling look into the world of South Boston. Releasing September 17th, Black Mass stars an almost unrecognizable Johnny Depp as Bulger. An interesting read, especially when you consider that Bulger was still on the run until a few years ago.
Frankenstein (Mary Shelley):
The latest adaptation of Shelley’s iconic novel is titled “Victor Frankenstein” and stars James McAvoy as Victor and Daniel Radcliffe as his assistant Igor. This version seems to focus (as the title suggests) more on the doctor than his unfortunate Creature. As a long time fan of Shelley’s novel, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this modernized, steampunk version. While I appreciate that the novel lends itself to steampunk very well, I wonder if focusing on Victor Frankenstein distracts from the empathy that Shelley intended for the Creature and therefore only skims the service of Shelley’s true intentions. Victor Frankenstein releases November 25th so you have a little time to read this great classic if you haven’t yet.
Mockingjay (Suzanne Collins):
Possibly the most anticipated book adaptation this fall, Mockingjay (part 2) is set for a big Thanksgiving week release. The second half of the final novel in the Hunger Games trilogy will find Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) leading the rebellion straight to the Capitol and President Snow. Many readers felt Collins’ third novel fell a little flat compared to the earlier two and in this case the movie might end up being a bit more satisfying than the novel.
The Danish Girl (David Ebershoff):
Another Thanksgiving release, The Danish Girl tells the story of artist Lili Elbe (born Einer Wegener), who became one of the first to have gender reassignment surgery. Eddie Redmayne plays Elbe and Alicia Vikander portrays Gerda Wegener who was married to Elbe through her early transitional years. Ebershoff’s book is a must read before heading to the movie theatre.
In The Heart of the Sea (Nathaniel Philbrick):
This National Book Award Winner details the story of the ill-fated whaling ship, the Essex, that was attacked by a large whale in 1820. The attack leaves the crew adrift at sea for 90 days. Based on the first-hand account of cabin boy Thomas Nickerson it stars Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy and Brendan Gleeson. In The Heart of the Sea releases around the holidays. As a fan of non-fiction, I’m looking forward to picking this one up at the library.
The Light Between Oceans (M.L. Stedman):
A beautiful yet heart-wrenching tale of lighthouse keeper Tom Sherbourne and his wife who live on an isolated island off the coast of Australia. When, after being unable to have a child themselves, they find a baby washed up in a boat, they decide to keep her without alerting the authorities. Two years later they venture to the mainland only to discover that this decision has had great repercussions. Starring Michael Fassbender (Macbeth) as Tom and Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) as his wife Isabel. The book is a must read. No release date on the film as of the day this blog is posted. However it does claim to be out this year so keep an eye out!
Room (Emma Donoghue):
Room tells the story of Jack, a five year old whose only world is the small room he and his mother are being held captive in. Ma does her best to raise Jack. They sing, play and learn but as soon as night falls Jack is locked in a cupboard while Old Nick visits. Old Nick has kept Ma there for seven years — and as Jack begins to ask more questions about his world, Ma decides it’s time to take a risk and get themselves out. Room releases October 16th and stars Brie Larson, Joan Allen and William H Macy.