Page to screen favorites

As soon as I finish the book I’m reading now (“Cat’s Eye” by Margaret Atwood), I plan to pick up “Lovecraft Country” by Matt Ruff. It wasn’t what I was planning to read next, but my husband and I want to watch the series of the same name, and it seems like it would be worth reading the book first.

Generally, I like to read the book before watching the movie. Of course, sometimes I’m just setting myself up for disappointment. Some movies based on books are great, while others are disappointing, especially if a book you love is adapted into a mediocre movie. On the other hand, there are times when I find the movie is even better than the book. It’s rare, but it does happen.

Here are some of my favorite page-to-screen adaptations:

The Great Gatsby

There are a few different versions of “The Great Gatsby.” I love both the 1974 version with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow, and the 2013 version with Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan. The 2013 version incorporates modern music, which some people did not like. I typically don’t like that sort of thing, either, but in this case it worked for me. I like the soundtrack, too.

Pride & Prejudice

I had a hard time choosing just one Jane Austen adaptation to include on this list. I have seen so many, and there are so many great ones. I think my favorite, however, is the 2005 film starring Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet. I love Donald Sutherland’s portrayal of Mr. Bennet, and all of the Bennet sisters. The film captures Austen’s humor very well.

Doctor Zhivago

I saw the movie “Doctor Zhivago” (the 1965 version, with Julie Christie and Omar Sharif) long before reading the book, and it has been one of my favorite movies for many years. I read the book late last year and found it…just okay. I thought it lacked the magic that the film has, and I found that the character of Zhivago held little charm. The movie, however, is still great, and I highly recommend it.

The Shining

This is another case where I actually prefer the film to the book. Like “Doctor Zhivago,” I saw the movie before reading the book. (Maybe that is the key – whichever I experience first is the one I like best?) The Stephen King book by the same name is great, but Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall is near perfection. I still remember the first time I saw that movie – I stayed up late reading “Calvin and Hobbes” and left the bedside lamp on because I was so scared!

Anne of Green Gables

I’m not sure how many times I watched the 1985 mini-series “Anne of Green Gables” starring Meagan Follows and Colleen Dewhurst. I remember it airing on PBS during their membership drive, and I could never resist watching it. It’s a charming and sweet adaptation, and I think I could still watch it every year!

I could probably go on and on with this list, but these were the first page-to-screen adaptations that popped into my head when I was thinking about this topic. It’s always fun to watch movies based on books we’ve read, and I’m looking forward to experiencing it again with “Lovecraft Country.”

Happy reading!

~Val