I am tired of hearing “the movie’s terrible, the original version is so much better, they left out so many details, etc.” I will admit I’m guilty of this myself, but it seems to be said for any film adaptation. Really, there’s only so much detail you can cram into about 2 ½ hours. Everyone has their own version of what they imagine while they read or listen to something. From the characters to the world they live in to even the narrative itself, the filmmaking team creates their vision of other narratives. Of course, there are some changes or omissions that make me cringe, but there are a few decent film adaptations.
5. Mean Girls (2004)
To begin the list, I will start with the least obvious one. While I don’t recall it ever being a published prose novel, the script was inspired by the self-help book “Queen Bees and Wannabes.” I wasn’t keen on “Mean Girls” when I first watched it. Certainly, I did not think it would recently become part of my collection. However, after watching it a few times, I now appreciate the script that speaks to the pressures of fitting into at least one clique. The witty humour in the dialogue is what makes this film featuring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler a staple of high school films.
4. Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
While certainly a unique story by Tim Burton and directed by Henry Selick, “Nightmare Before Christmas” was inspired by the “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” cartoon. The visuals capture Burton’s well-known dark yet playful mise-en-scene, especially with the use of stop-motion animation. The soundtrack is also cheerful with fun lyrics to enjoy anytime of the year – not just Halloween or Christmas. I would have this higher, but it is more of an original film with the intent of the Jack Skellington to make Christmas better.
3. Young Frankenstein (1974)
This parody of “Frankenstein” is hilarious, whether you read the novel or seen the original film. Actually, I watched the original “Frankenstein” after I saw “Young Frankenstein” a few times. The latter made the original film more amusing the first time I watched it. Even when I read the Mary Shelley novel, I had greater appreciation for it thanks to this film. The performances by Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman and Peter Boyle are wonderful as well.
2. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Okay, this isn’t an adaptation of a book or fictional story – it’s a film inspired by two famous criminals from The Great Depression. Either way, it’s still an interesting take on the lives of Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty) and Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway). Yes, “Bonnie and Clyde” paints a much lighter picture of the outlaws’ lives. There are also a lot more punchy dialogue and humorous moments than probably necessary. However, the editing and cinematography are incredible and suit the quick and action-packed narrative well.
1. The Princess Bride (1987)
I’ll admit it: I didn’t read the novel until after I saw the film many times. In fact, I remember watching “The Princess Bride” often in elementary school before studying it in high school. Either way, William Goldman, under the direction of Rob Reiner, did a brilliant job at introducing his novel to the big screen. The intelligently humoured narrative contains two stories within one: a grandfather (Peter Falk) reading a fairy tale to his grandson (Fred Savage). Goldman broke the fourth wall by combining usual narrative elements, likeable characters, and showing the growth of Savage’s character through his reactions. There really isn’t anything else you can ask for in a story.