Most of what we see on screen is fiction. The creations of strategic marketing campaigns, press releases, and narrative fallacies which turn complex realities into soothing, but overly simplified stories. These creations are designed to shield us from the complications of the world around us.
After awhile, everything becomes a blur. That is why much of what’s on television does not fascinate me— it simplifies too much. But a good film is a work of art. Like a good book, it opens the mind, inspires creativity, and fascinates.
Movies based on literary classics top my list because when a timeless story gets told through film, the idea is not to create a book clone but to channel the story using a different medium. Each has its own merit. A movie complements a book— it never replaces it.
Here are ten literary adaptations that are worth seeing as much as they are worth reading:
The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)— Based on Alexander Dumas’ classic. The main character, Edmund Dumas takes us through a scarring adventure after being betrayed, leading to imprisonment by his best friend.
Anna Karenina (1997)— There are many adaptations of this Russian classic, but the 1997 version starring, Sophie Marcauex as Anna is elegant, beautiful, the best I’ve seen.
Onegin (2000)— Another Russian classic. This one is based on Alexander Pushkin’s novel set in verse, Eugene Onegin. The film will chill your body, and soul, starring Liv Tyler as Tatyana, and Ralph Fiennes as Eugene Onegin.
Жестокий романс (1984)— [RUSSIAN] Based on Alexander Ostrovsky’s classic play, Бесприданница (Without a Dowry). Very tragic, very Russian, and very beautiful.
Адмирал ( 2008)— [RUSSIAN] One of Russia’s highest budget films. It depicts the undoing of Russia’s golden age. The story is based on Admiral Kolchak’s battles and loves (plural).
Far from the Maddening Crowd (1967)— Based on Thomas Hardy’s classic. A remake of Far from the Maddening Crowd is scheduled for release May 2015 starring Carey Mulligan, but in the meantime, Julie Christie starring as Bathsheba is nostalgic, passionate, and very true to the book.
The House of Mirth (2000)— Set in America’s Belle Epoch and based on Edith Wharton’s novel of the same name. It is the tragic story of Lily Bart who finds herself trapped in the conventions and traditions of New York’s upper class. The acting and mise-en-scène are exquisite.
Jane Eyre (2011)— This passionate, chilling and charmingly British film is based on Charlotte Brontë’s autobiographical tale of woe. The film explores every emotion to the depth by spinning the story line on a wheel of anticipation.
The Princess of Montpensier (2010)— This film is based on a French short story published by Madame de La Fayette, who takes us into the world of the sixteenth-century French court and high aristocracy. A little bit of love, a little bit of war, and a lot of philosophical musings.
Anonimo Veneziano (1970)— [ITALIAN] Beautiful and cinematic. I watch it for Venice and for the best soundtrack of all time which weaves Alessandro Marcello’s Oboe Concerto in D minor, in-and-out of every scene. I certainly do not watch it for the dialogue because it is in Italian and the only word I understand is— ciao.