Top Ten Tuesday adapted from http://www.flickr.com/photos/ceasedesist/4812981497/

Top Ten Best/Worst Book to Movie Adaptations

Top Ten Tuesday adapted from http://www.flickr.com/photos/ceasedesist/4812981497/This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about book to movie adaptations. Oh, this is a hard one. I will start with the best ones. Links go to the movies’ IMDb profiles.

  1. Brokeback Mountain the movie is even better than Annie Proulx’s short story. Proulx doesn’t develop the characters as much, and Innis and Jack’s wives are just window dressing. The movie gives the story much more depth and heart. I hardly ever say this kind of thing. The book is usually better. Which brings me to #2.
  2. The Princess Bride is another case where I think the movie is better. The book gets a little lost, but the movie stays focused. Plus the acting is just great. Easily one of the most quotable movies of all time.
  3. To Kill a Mockingbird is a great film. Not as good as the book, but really great. Everyone talks about how wonderful Gregory Peck was as Atticus Finch, and he was, but they always forget that Mary Badham was phenomenal as Scout. She was nominated for an Academy Award. She didn’t win. Probably because of her age. She was only ten years old.
  4. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was famously reviled by Ken Kesey, who didn’t like it that you couldn’t tell the story through the eyes of the schizophrenic Chief Bromden, but the film turned in some stellar performances by some actors often known more for comedy. Great film.
  5. The Color Purple jiggled some things around, but they got the most important stuff right. I love this film all over again every time I see it.
  6. Sense and Sensibility is gorgeously shot and the acting is awesome. I like everyone in it.
  7. Pride and Prejudice, both the version with Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth and the one with Keira Knightley.
  8. The adaptation of Louis Sachar’s novel Holes was awesome. Pretty much just like the book.
  9. I don’t know if it’s cheating to include plays, but I’m gonna. Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet is pretty much the gold standard of Shakespeare in film.
  10. Clueless is a pretty awesome update of Emma. I love that movie.

My choices for worst adaptations:

  1. As much as I love the Harry Potter movies, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban hits all the wrong notes from the opening when Harry is practicing spells outside of school in a Muggle house, which everyone knows underage wizards can’t do, to the made up toad chorus and talking shrunken head, to the confusing deletion of the Marauders’ subplot that renders the movie incomprehensible unless you have read the book. And everyone looks scruffy the whole movie long. They don’t have to be as well scrubbed as when Chris Columbus directs, and I don’t mind them looking like normal teenagers, but having parts of your shirt untucked, your tie askew, and your hair mussed in every single scene? Nah. I’m blaming the director for this one because I like the others just fine (except for Michael Gambon’s performance, especially in Goblet of Fire—Dumbledore wouldn’t manhandle Harry like that). It’s a shame because it is easily one of the top books in the series.
  2. Just about every version of Wuthering Heights except this one, though to be fair, I haven’t seen the newest one with Kaya Scodelario. Why on earth people can’t get that book straightened out in film form, I do not get. Some versions cut the Hareton and Cathy part altogether. Others delete Lockwood.
  3. The Scarlet Letter with Demi Moore. What were they thinking? We were discussing the scene when Reverend Dimmesdale reveals the scarlet letter carved into his own chest and dies in one of my classes one day, and I re-read it to the class. One of my students said, “Wow, this would make a great movie.” Yeah, you’d think, but no.
  4. This version of Macbeth is pretty heinous, but I do use two scenes from it when I teach the play. They do some neat camera tilt tricks and use mirrors in a clever way in the scene when Banquo’s ghost shows up, and the opening with the three witches dressed like schoolgirls busting up a graveyard is good.
  5. The Rankin/Bass versions of The Hobbit and The Return of the King and Ralph Bakshi’s version of The Lord of the Rings. Ugh. I much prefer Peter Jackson’s adaptions despite the changes made. He takes the subject matter seriously.
  6. The Black Cauldron was ruined by Disney. I don’t blame you if you didn’t read Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles if you thought they were like that movie. I remember dragging my mom to see it and being so disappointed.
  7. And by that same token, The Seeker adapted from Susan Cooper’s novel The Dark is Rising is heinous. I keep using that word. But it’s so true in this case. Take this one together with The Black Cauldron and there’s a fair chance kids won’t give these wonderful books steeped in Welsh myth and legend a shot at all.
  8. Their Eyes Were Watching God was pretty bad. Oh, you mean you never even knew it it existed? There is a good reason for that. I love that book. I can’t believe the film is so bad.
  9. Beowulf. Oh. My. Gosh. What the heck was that?
  10. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil should have been good. Kevin Spacey is in it. Clint Eastwood directed it. The Lady Chablis played herself. Instead it’s terrible. Don’t watch it.

Related posts:

Jane Austen Soap Series

Jane Austen Soap Giveaway

I’m in the midst of re-reading Pride and Prejudice, and I had forgotten how quickly the story moves along. I just reached the part that contains perhaps my favorite lines:

“Come here, child,” cried her father as she appeared. “I have sent for you on an affair of importance. I understand that Mr. Collins has made you an offer of marriage. Is it true?” Elizabeth replied that it was. “Very well—and this offer of marriage you have refused?”

“I have, Sir.”

“Very well. We now come to the point. Your mother insists upon your accepting it. Is it not so, Mrs. Bennet?”

“Yes, or I will never see her again.”

“An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents.—Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.”

One of the best dad moments in literature, even if later we learn perhaps Mr. Bennet should be a little more watchful of his younger daughters.

In honor of my re-read, and just because they’re all ready to go (at last), I am giving away one bar of each soap in my Jane Austen soap series.

Jane Austen Soap Series
Jane Austen Soap Series

I have created five soaps based on heroines from three Jane Austen novels: Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma.

Bennet Sisters
Bennet Sisters

The Bennet sisters, featured in Pride and Prejudice are also available as a set in my Etsy store.

Mrs. Darcy
Mrs. Darcy

Mrs. Darcy is inspired by that delightful creature herself, Elizabeth Bennet. Created with her personality in mind, it contains goat milk (to represent her stubbornness) and rich vegetable oils, including olive oil, coconut oil, palm, oil, sweet almond oil, castor oil, and cocoa butter and is scented with fragrantly floral plumeria.

Sweet Jane
Sweet Jane

Sweet Jane is as nice as her namesake, Jane Bennet. Made with coconut milk, olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, cocoa butter, and castor oil, this soap has a clean, wholesome scent of lemon verbena.

Emma Woodhouse
Emma Woodhouse

Just like Emma herself, her namesake soap unites some of the best blessings of existence: beautiful calendula petals and luxurious silk with rich, moisturizing shea butter, olive oil, and sunflower seed oil and scented with citrusy tart yuzu and sweet orange.

Elinor
Elinor

Elinor’s soap has a fresh, mild, clean scent that evokes herbs and mint and is made with olive oil, sunflower oil, shea butter, and other rich, moisturizing oils.

Marianne's Passion
Marianne’s Passion

This wild swirl of black raspberry vanilla evokes Marianne Dashwood’s passionate nature. Made with olive oil, cocoa butter, silk and other rich, moisturizing oils, this soap is a treat for your skin.

What do you have to do to win this prize package? Simply leave a comment with your favorite quote from Pride and Prejudice and explain why it’s your favorite. A winner will be chosen at random on Friday, February 22, 2013. You can earn an extra entry if you like New England Handmade Artisan Soaps on Facebook and share the giveaway. Simply locate the giveaway on my Facebook page and share it on your Facebook timeline.

Good luck! And remember that if you don’t win, you can still order this fantastic collection from my Etsy store.

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Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Books I Want to Reread

Top Ten Tuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is a list of the top ten books I want to reread (in no particular order).

  1. [amazon_link id=”1936594528″ target=”_blank” ]Sense and Sensibility[/amazon_link] by Jane Austen. I always love visiting Aunt Jane, and this year is the bicentenary of the publication of Sense and Sensibility. I’m participating in Laurel Ann’s Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge, but I haven’t made any progress at all.
  2. The [amazon_link id=”0545162076″ target=”_blank” ]Harry Potter series[/amazon_link] by J.K. Rowling always stands up well on a reread, and I have read it many, many times. Maggie and I were reading together, but we have missed our daily readings over the last month or so, and she asked me just last night if we could get started again.
  3. [amazon_link id=”0141439580″ target=”_blank” ]Emma[/amazon_link] by Jane Austen. I didn’t like it as much as [amazon_link id=”0143105426″ target=”_blank” ]Pride and Prejudice[/amazon_link], Sense and Sensibility, or [amazon_link id=”0141439688″ target=”_blank” ]Persuasion[/amazon_link] when I read it some time ago, and I want to see if it improves on a reread.
  4. [amazon_link id=”0143105434″ target=”_blank” ]Wuthering Heights[/amazon_link] by Emily Brontë. Winter seems like a good time to curl up with those frosty characters.
  5. [amazon_link id=”0393320979″ target=”_blank” ]Beowulf[/amazon_link] translated by Seamus Heaney. I am thinking about writing an article for an upcoming issue of English Journal about Beowulf as a character, and I think I need to reread the whole thing in order to do it justice.
  6. [amazon_link id=”0679735909″ target=”_blank” ]Possession[/amazon_link] by A.S. Byatt. I loved it very much about ten years ago when I read it. I think I’d like to reread it.
  7. [amazon_link id=”0345409647″ target=”_blank” ]Interview with the Vampire[/amazon_link] and [amazon_link id=”0345419642″ target=”_blank” ]The Vampire Lestat[/amazon_link] by Anne Rice. I haven’t read these books in over 15 years, and I think I would like to reread them and see if they are as good as I remember. I recall them being absolutely wonderful then. I was such a huge fan of Rice until I found her books weren’t living up to my memories of the earlier books in the series. Lestat is such a great character.
  8. [amazon_link id=”0192803735″ target=”_blank” ]The Tain[/amazon_link] translated by Thomas Kinsella and [amazon_link id=”0140443975″ target=”_blank” ]Early Irish Myths and Sagas[/amazon_link] translated by Jeffrey Gantz. Research.
  9. [amazon_link id=”0618640150″ target=”_blank” ]The Lord of the Rings[/amazon_link] by J.R.R. Tolkien. It has been a long time since I read the whole series. I love Frodo and Sam.
  10. [amazon_link id=”0061990477″ target=”_blank” ]The Thorn Birds[/amazon_link] by Colleen McCullough. Man, I remember that being such an awesome book.

What do you think you want to reread?

Related posts:

Emma

This morning, DailyLit sent me my final 191st installment of Jane Austen’s Emma, which I read just a few moments ago. Upon finishing the book, I have to say that while I love DailyLit and the idea behind it, daily subscriptions were perhaps not the best way to read this particular novel (and perhaps Jane Austen in general — I am not sure). Austen has a subtlety and requires, I think, a great deal of concentration from her reader. Reading this novel over the course of about six months made it hard for me to remember some of the events. Of course, I could have had installments sent more quickly by requesting them (by default, the subscriptions will not be sent any more frequently than once a day). A second problem I had in receiving the book this way is that it was very poorly transcribed. On several occasions, my transcription cut off in the middle of someone’s speech or would even end as someone was about to say something (even cutting off at a comma instead of a period). I found this maddening and most of the time either requested the next installment or had to go back and re-read the end of the previous one. Another fault in the transcription were grammar errors — the possessive “hers” was rendered “her’s” on several occasions in the text.

As for the story, I have previously read Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and am currently reading Northanger Abbey (I have also attempted Persuasion twice). Of the novels with which I am familiar, I have to say Emma contains my least favorite storyline and characters. I never really managed to quite like Emma. She seemed to me to be quite shallow and snobby. I did like Mr. Knightley, but I fail to see what he saw in Emma. Mrs. Elton was hilarious, as Austen’s most annoying characters typically are. Still, even though I didn’t enjoy the novel as much as I typically enjoy Austen, it was an entertaining read. I had seen Clueless, and it was interesting to see how closely Amy Heckerling followed her source material.

Not one soul commented to tell me which Dickens novel I should read of the three: Great Expectations, David Copperfield, or A Tale of Two Cities. Therefore, I used the only means of divination I could think of and asked my seven-year-old daughter Maggie, who has no investment in my choice except that perhaps the title of the third sounds like a Garfield movie. And of course that’s the one she chose for me.

Meanwhile, I have discovered yet another use for my Goodreads account in addition to keeping a record of all the books I have read and am currently reading. Up until the last couple of days, my “to-read” bookshelf has held only the couple of books that were on my immediate list of books I wanted to read. I have begun cataloging the books I find interesting so I won’t forget about them later, and I am finding that to be really helpful for me. My mother has for years kept a notebook with a list of books she find interesting and checks them off as she acquires them, so consider my Goodreads account my notebook.

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Brunonia Barry’s The Lace Reader

I heard about Brunonia Barry’s novel The Lace Reader yesterday via Book Club Girl’s blog.  Book Club Girl has an interview with Barry that really intrigued me, and you ought to give it a listen if my description of the novel intrigues you.  I was lucky to be one of the first ten commenters, which means Book Club Girl will be sending me a free advance reader edition of The Lace Reader.

Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects of the novel is how it came to be published.  Trying to get a book published is hard, trying, and often disheartening work.  Rather than spend years trying to find a publisher, Barry published her book herself.  The book became popular with readers and book clubs, and it attracted the attention of publishers who then had to bid for her book.  I love that part of the story.  Barry was able to score a $2 million book deal; the novel will be published by William Morrow and has already generated film industry buzz.

The novel is the story of Towner Whitney, a native of Salem, MA who can read the future in patterns of Ipswich lace.  She returns to her hometown after the murder of two women.  Barry says that her inspiration for the story was Joseph Campbell’s theory of the monomyth, around which I built a senior English elective at my school.  Needless to say, a new book deliberately written with the Hero’s Journey in mind intrigued me.  Barry explains that “Most stories that follow this pattern have a decidedly male orientation: a lone individual acts heroically and saves the day. I wondered if there might be an alternate form, a feminine Hero’s Journey.”  Barry is right.  Of the books I chose, all of them had a male protagonist, and it wasn’t that I didn’t want to find a book that had a female protagonist — I couldn’t.  I chose books like The Iliad, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Le Morte D’Arthur, The Ramayana, The Hobbit, Star Wars, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (which was nixed by my principal), among a few other selected texts.  In part I am intrigued by this book for possible inclusion in my course.

I am about one-quarter into Northanger Abbey, and it’s been a delight.  I love the “heroine” Catherine, and I am looking forward to discovering what the Editrix of Austen Blog loves about Mr. Tilney (I’ve only seen him twice so far).  Austen, as always, has a pitch-perfect ear for conversation, and I was completely charmed by chapter six, in which she recounts a dialogue between Catherine and Isabella Thorpe (whom I also adore).  I should be finishing Emma this weekend, so please look for a review some time on Sunday.  I have decided I will read Charles Dickens next on DailyLit, but I am having trouble choosing a book.  I have narrowed down the list to three selections, and if you have thoughts about which one I should choose, please leave me a comment.

David Copperfield would take me more than a year in 447 daily installments, but A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations are broken into 170 and 231 parts respectively.  When selecting novels for DailyLit, I try to choose books that I think I would otherwise not read, and all three books fit that description, so if you don’t help me, I’m afraid I’ll have to rely on eenie, meenie, miney, and moe for assistance.  Here’s incentive for you: if you successfully convince me to read the book of your choice, I will send you a DailyLit subscription to the book of your choice (so long as it’s free), and you can enjoy a bit of DailyLit in your own inbox.  What do you say?

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